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28 Things I Learned By Age 28

This month, I turned the big 2-8. Every year I take some time to reflect on how my life has changed, how I’ve grown, and what I’ve learned. This year, I decided to document it! So, without further ado, 28 things I learned by age 28.

  1. Stop waiting until you’re “ready”. You’re never “ready”, and you won’t ever truly know what to do until you DO THE THING! You can read all the books you want and spend endless hours researching with little to no impact. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good, do what you want to do before you’re ready.
  2. You already know enough to impact someone else. Picture it like this: you’re only at step 2 of a 10-step journey, so you think what you’ve got to say isn’t worth sharing. But for someone at step 1, you have exactly the message they need to hear. What someone is saying at step 10 is too far ahead to resonate with that person–so by holding yourself back, you’re also doing someone else a disservice. Stop waiting–GO FOR IT!
  3. Take care of your skin. When I was in college, my skincare routine included going out then falling asleep with my makeup on, and never wearing sunscreen. You’re not invincible, wash your face, invest in a good daytime moisturizer and a night cream, and wear sunscreen!
  4. Do things with intention. If you don’t, you’ll find your life flying by you and have no idea where the time went. Think about what you want to do, and pursue it.
  5. Drink water. LOTS of water. It keeps away the brain fog, helps with gym performance, and I don’t suffer from debilitating hangovers.
  6. Find a routine that works for you. Get on a schedule of going to the gym and preparing/packing your food in advance. Your health will thank you. So will your wallet when you don’t have to order all of your food out.
  7. But also, break that routine to try new things. Don’t set foot in one gym and never leave it. Expand your community by trying new workouts. Sleep in sometimes when you need the rest.
  8. Manifestation is real. What you think about, you bring about. Remember that next time you start stressing and feel negatively about your life.
  9. Life is one big energy exchange. To make things happen in your life, you have to direct energy into them. Want to get fit? You have to put energy into working out and planning/preparing your meals. Want to get a new job? You have to put energy into applying places, or networking, or learning what you need to know. You can dream about it all you want: but you have to put time and energy into it to make it happen.
  10. Expressing gratitude can change your life. It can pull you out of a negative headspace, improve your interactions with those around you, and bring good energy your way. I spend less than 5 minutes a day gratitude journaling, but it adds so much power and value to my morning!
  11. More is not always better. We often think that if some is good, more is better. I fell into this trap with exercise. There is a point of diminishing returns, where you become susceptible to injury, or suffer hormonal damage, or your metabolism slows down. Don’t let the good things in your life try to pull you out of balance.
  12. Set boundaries. I’m big on workplace boundaries: you get me for 40 hours every week, don’t reach out to me on nights and weekends and expect me to answer. That is not your time. Without those boundaries, everything else in my life suffers. If I let work creep into my evenings on a regular basis, I don’t get to work on any of my own personal growth or spend time enjoying myself or connecting with my husband and friends.
  13. Get back to your roots and spend time doing things you enjoyed as a child. The quote “we don’t stop playing because we grow up, we grow up because we stop playing” really hit me. Think back to how you spent your time as a child. If you loved playing sports, join an adult league. If you loved to read, make time for it. Because of this quote, I now play more board games, ride my bike, and read simply for pleasure on a regular basis, and I’m happier for it!
  14. Your brain requires working out just like your body does. Meditation, reading, and brain games are all ways to work out your mind and keep it sharp!
  15. Do things that scare you. I used to hate doing things I wasn’t good at because I was scared of failing, and scared that I’d be embarrassed. Then I realized I was missing out on so many opportunities for growth and shutting myself out of things that I could fall in love with.
  16. Being defensive and taking everything personally gets you nowhere. To be fair, this is a lesson I’m still constantly learning–I struggle hard with this, but over time, I’ve recognized that I’m not actually helping my case by immediately becoming defensive.
  17. In order to be heard, you have to meet people where they’re at. Pushing your agenda on someone is not an effective communication strategy in the long term: you have to put yourself in their shoes and level with them. If you can master this, you’ll accomplish so much more than you ever could by trying to go it alone.
  18. Get to know yourself. Take personality tests, hang out by yourself, be introspective. Learn exactly who you are and what you want, or you’ll spend your life getting sucked into someone else’s current.
  19. Imposter Syndrome is real, and some days it’s hard to put it to rest. I am years into my career and I still find myself thinking: when is everyone going to figure out that I shouldn’t be here and I don’t know as much as they think I do? Even when there is no evidence to show that I am not doing as well as I should be, my mind interrupts me with thoughts like this. I’ve also learned that this happens to SO MANY PEOPLE. You’re not alone, the voice is lying, and you have to push through.
  20. When you are leading a meeting or a fitness class or anything, really, be confident in what you say. Don’t be deferential: take charge. When you’re in a position of leadership, people want you to take charge. So stop being scared and just do it.
  21. Social media is not reality. I’ve met some people in real life who have huge instagram followings and loads of beautiful pictures and they’re not at all what they portray on the internet. Stop comparing yourself to someone’s posed, filtered, and completely curated life. Enjoy and appreciate the messiness you bring to the table.
  22. Travel as much as you can. A few years ago, I made an agreement with myself that if I can get the time off of work and the trip is less than $1000, I’m going. Because of this, I’ve been on amazing trips that I would’ve talked myself out of otherwise to “save money” or some other lame excuse. I’m a better, more whole version of myself because of the places I’ve been and things I’ve seen and I wouldn’t take any of it back if you could offer me a refund of my time and money.
  23. Get outside in the sun as much as possible. It’ll energize you and bring you joy. You can afford a 10-minute break from your work to go for a walk and you’ll actually perform better when you come back from it.
  24. Certain habits make every day better. Eating vegetables, getting enough movement in, and taking time to meditate, read or journal are non-negotiables. Even on vacation, I find I enjoy myself more when I stick to these simple habits.
  25. Shake up your identity from time to time. For the past few years, I’ve considered “coffee drinker” and “crossfitter” parts of my identity (there’s even a sign on my desk that says crossfit and coffee). I thought I could not live without either of those things–that I wouldn’t be myself. Then I took a break from Crossfit and seriously reduced my caffeine consumption, and I learned a LOT about myself in that time. I’m now back to about 2 cups of cold brew per day and crossfitting 4x per week, but I wouldn’t take back the time I spent questioning myself and my beliefs and all that I learned in that process.
  26. You can’t impact everything, but you can impact something. There are so many causes out there it can feel overwhelming to give back. But you don’t have to pursue every cause: pick one or two that resonate with you and do what you can. I love to run charity races and do charity workouts to give back, but I’ve also found that anything environmental strongly resonates with me, so I’m now on a mission to get others involved keeping our planet thriving.
  27. The faster you consume content, the easier it is to retain. That sounds counterintuitive, but when you read fast or speed up your audiobooks/podcasts, it forces you to focus and you actually retain more. Added bonus: it also gives you more time to consume even more content. If you don’t believe me, listen to Jim Kwik.
  28. Love is everything. Love yourself, love your partner, love your friends, even show love to strangers. And most of all, live a life you love.

There you have it! What life lessons would you add to this list?

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How and Why I Cut My Caffeine Intake

I love coffee. I love the taste of it, the smell of it, the ritual of drinking it, and the feeling it brings. To me, coffee is energizing, euphoric, and a staple in my day. Over the course of about 10 years, it grew to be a 3-4 cups per day staple.

I saw no problem with this. I was treating myself to something I loved. It made me feel happier, more productive. What I didn’t see was how it was affecting my anxiety, my sleep, and my wallet.

So, why did I stop drinking coffee?

But let’s back up a bit. In November 2018, I started to have sleep issues. Before then, I’d been the type of person that passed out as soon as my head hit the pillow. I could sleep on command. I’ve fallen asleep in the car surrounded by loved ones all awake and talking because it was late at night and I value my sleep that much. So when these issues hit, I was shocked and confused and realized I needed to take a deeper look at my lifestyle.

I have healthy sleep hygiene. I relax at night with epsom salt baths, sleepytime tea, and occasionally yoga. I work out regularly, I eat pretty well, I try to manage my stress. I know exactly how important sleep is to a healthy lifestyle. So what could be causing this issue?

Besides overthinking it and not managing my stress as well as I thought I was, it was brought to my attention that my caffeine consumption should be looked at. I was not excited by the thought, but I’ll rise to a good challenge with a clear purpose. So in December 2018, I started my journey to cut my coffee consumption from 3-4 cups/day down to 1.

How did I cut my caffeine consumption?

I’m not a cold-turkey kind of person–I don’t believe that large, black and white changes all done at once create sustainable, lasting change (i.e. my healthy habits program that I created to completely combat this notion). So I started by cutting down to 2 cups/day for 2 weeks. I used to drink a cup of coffee right when I woke up (5:30/6 AM) then another when I got to work (8:30/9 AM) then another when I needed an afternoon pick-me-up (1-3 PM). The first cup I decided to cut was my mid-morning “when I get to work” coffee. This was pretty easy–I never really felt like I needed that cup since I was still buzzing from the first, it was more out of habit that I drank it.

Once I had comfortably shifted to 2 cups/day for 2 weeks, I cut down to 1 cup. This time, I decided to cut my very first cup of coffee and my afternoon cup, and go back to having a cup when I got to work. This change was much harder. Working out without caffeine was a big change for me at first, and when the afternoon slump hit, I struggled. I’ve found that caffeine-free herbal tea helps (especially this herbal elements blend) and so does decaf. But as the days have gone on, I’ve found that I’m even less reliant on those substitutes.

How do I feel now, 1 month into less caffeine?

I’m amazed that throughout this process I didn’t suffer from any headaches or true withdrawal symptoms. I did try to go totally caffeine-free one day and felt like my brain wouldn’t turn on, so I ordered a half-caff Pike’s Place from Starbucks (a girl’s still gotta get work done, right?!). I plan on sticking with half-caff for another few days and then trying to go coffee-free for awhile. I want to make coffee a treat again (and save some money in the process!).

I’ve also found that since January 2, 2019, I no longer have sleep issues. The first day I shifted to 1 cup/day was January 1. Now, I have made a lot of other adjustments (including meditation, gratitude journaling, and melatonin) but I can’t deny that I’ve felt less anxious and less “tired but wired” since I’ve embarked on this journey.

Do you drink a lot of coffee or a lot of caffeine? Have you embarked on a similar journey to reduce your consumption? I’d love to hear about it below!

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3 Reasons I Love To Work For My Beer

One of my favorite things about this city is the overwhelmingly popular beer fitness scene and all of the balanced living enthusiasts that come with it. That’s why when I heard about Work For Your Beer – Charlotte’s hub for all things beer fitness – I knew I had to get involved.  There are few (if any) things that I love more than a nice adult beverage after a workout! So what exactly is Work For Your Beer?

Work For Your Beer is the place to go if you’re looking for beer fitness classes. This site serves as a guide for pub run clubs, brewery yoga classes, bootcamps that end with beer, and more (there are even dance classes — Twerk For Your Beer, anyone?). Outside of the super-helpful calendar that provides details for more than 100 beer fitness events/week, they also post interesting content. The blog shares beer releases and reviews, Charlotte-specific events, and topics that balanced living enthusiasts would relate to (read one of my personal favorites here). PS – if this sounds like your thing, sign up for the weekly brewsletter–you won’t be disappointed!

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Like this shirt? Enter code: christine15 at checkout on the Work For Your Beer site for a discount!

So, why am I so obsessed with being a Work For Your Beer brand ambassador? Find my top 3 reasons below:

  1. The workout variety. So many workouts, so little time (and money!). I love that the beer fitness scene allows you to vary your workouts, commitment-free, for a small price tag. Many of the pub runs are free (you just buy your own beer afterward), and classes are around $5 (which sometimes includes a beer!). So, you get to experience lots of different trainers and exercise styles for much cheaper than a membership or drop-in fee at most boutique studios! The variety of options is great for someone who likes all different kinds of fitness.
  2. The craft beers. Beer fitness is a great excuse to try different craft beers! In Charlotte, there’s no shortage of brewery options. Within walking distance of my apartment, I can go to Legion Brewing, Resident Culture, Catawba, Pilot, and more. It would be easy to fall into a rut of going to the breweries closest to me – but the fitness events offered at other breweries get me out there, trying new things! I’ve since figured out that my fave Charlotte beers are Birdsong Jalapeno Pale Ale and Wooden Robot Good Morning Vietnam.
  3. The community of people. Beer fitness events provide a great way to get out and be social on weeknights. I love being able to connect with people who I already know share two of my biggest loves! And meeting new people is so important to me, being new in town. To all my fellow beer-and-fitness-loving Queen City residents: message me to meet up at a class together!

I’d love to hear your favorite beers, breweries, and beer fitness events (Charlotte or not) in the comments!

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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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Sweaty Sunday Workout

Sundays call for sweating! And due to the endless rain in Syracuse, I took my workout to the gym in my apartment complex.

This 45-minute circuit mixes cardio with total-body strength moves.  Each move listed has a tutorial below to help guide you. Give it a try and leave me your thoughts in the comments!

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Renegade Rows with Pushup

Bicep Curls

Shoulder Press

Single Leg Deadlifts

Alternating Front Rack Lunges

Suitcase-hold Squats

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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!