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2020 Holiday Gift Guides

‘Tis the season! I’ve pulled together some of my favorite products around themes: hair care and skincare. What other gift guides would you like to see?

Dry Shampoo
Leave In Conditioner
Un-frizz Cream
Healing Oil

Face Mask (great for mascne)
Under Eye Cream
Night Cream
Tinted Moisturizer

code STODDS gets you a discount at checkout!

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How To Get Out Of A Rut

Is it just me or has 2020 felt like a rut? Nothing like a global pandemic during an election year to force you to take a hard look at the way you live your life! Being in a “rut” can feel pretty icky – when I’m in one, I feel completely stagnant. But it also provides an opportunity. Coming out of that rut is a new trajectory. So what’re you waiting for? Here are a few of my tips to get out of a rut.

  1. Create a routine and/or to do list and stick to it. This one is especially helpful if you’re struggling to find purpose in your days or stick to healthy habits. I find it helpful to put pen to paper in my planner. I outline my intentions and everything I want to accomplish in a day. Identifying what I want to do and actually doing it helps me believe in myself and builds momentum to help me out of the rut. If you don’t know where to start, I recommend something as simple as a guided meditation or a morning walk/run/bike ride. I find that these activities allow ideas to pop into my head and give me clarity on the path forward.
  2. .. Or don’t! Shake it up. This is helpful if the monotony of your routine is getting to you. Sometimes routine is freeing, sometimes it feels like a prison. If you’re feeling the latter: shake things up. When’s the last time you did something new for the first time? Get out there and do it! In a pandemic there might not seem like many opportunities to “get out there” but you could hike somewhere new, or sign up for a virtual class. It could even be as simple as picking up a different book genre and finding that you love it. While routine tends to bring me comfort and purpose, adding novelty to my days helps me feel like I’m “living life to the fullest”.
  3. Connect with loved ones. Sometimes all it takes it talking it out. Tell someone how you feel. I recommend specifically choosing someone you relate to, whose advice you value or who makes a good hype man! If we’re still in the pandemic when you need this, ask a friend to have a socially distanced or virtual coffee date or happy hour. We’re meant to communicate and connect with others – a little bit can go a long way when you’re in a tough spot.
  4. Treat yoself! Make today special. Pick up a nice bottle of wine, takeout from your favorite restaurant, whatever is a “treat” to you. Find a little reason to celebrate each week (maybe you checked off your to do list every day this week?). In my daily journaling I have a prompt: what am I doing to make today special? Often it’s little things like “a great workout” or “walking to get a Starbucks pumpkin cream cold brew”. Identifying those little opportunities in everyday life helps me have something to look forward to.

How do you get out of a rut?

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How (And Why) to Put Yourself First

ICYMI, I recently read Untamed and since then, have had near constant reminders of the importance of honoring yourself and your needs.

I don’t want to speak on behalf of all women in saying this, but I was raised to believe that the “right way” to be a woman is to put others’ needs in front of my own. That through sacrifice and suffering, I am doing my part to make the world a better place. A “good girl” doesn’t complain or speak up or cause conflict. I spent years of my life succumbing to this school of thought, but now, I couldn’t disagree more. I’m no longer interested in competing for a “she-who-suffers-most” award or pleasing everyone around me at the expense of myself.

Why It’s Important to Put Yourself First

I now believe that the best thing I can do is bring my best self into the world. No one can be me but me. By putting my thoughts and needs to the side in order to please others, I’m not only sacrificing myself, but I’m sacrificing the gifts that I could potentially be giving to the world. People pleasing is draining–it takes away my energy, emotionally and physically. You can’t pour from an empty cup. By giving away your energy to “people please” you end up not bringing your best self to the relationships that matter most to you, so who is actually benefiting?

If the idea of pursuing your desires sounds foreign or selfish to you, you may be thinking: but what about all of the things I want to do that I actually shouldn’t? What about my desire to have a bottle of wine at home by myself instead of attending a family event? To which I ask: is that really putting yourself first? In those situations, you may need to dig a little deeper to uncover where that desire comes from and have a different course of action in mind. Putting yourself first does not mean to self-sabotoge.

It’s also worth noting that if you choose to take this path, it is not the easy path. It requires work to get to know yourself. Standing up for yourself, especially at first, can also take energy you don’t want to spend (even though this is energy you’re spending for yourself–it leads to a payoff). Putting yourself first also causes conflict. You may lose relationships (in favor of strengthening the ones that matter). It takes work to change like this, but I have decided it’s worth it.

So, who’s with me on this journey? Here are some examples and action items I’m using.

Recognizing When You’re Abandoning Yourself

Do you notice when you are putting your own wants and needs aside to please others? Here are some of the signs that clue me in.

  • General agitation. Do you feel like your energy is drained and you’re quick to snap? Something may not be in alignment. Instead of trying to distract yourself from those feelings, examine them.
  • Rumination. When I ruminate on a situation after it passes, it is a sure sign that I did not act in alignment with how I felt. I will keep replaying the situation in my head and trying to rewrite the outcome. Why put myself through that mental torture? I did this recently when the doctor suggested an induction date earlier than I was comfortable with. I agreed in the moment because who am I to tell a Doctor what should be done? Then when I left the office, I cried. I knew I hadn’t honored myself and I wouldn’t feel better until I spoke my piece. So I called the office and asked to push the date back–they agreed and I can breathe easy again.
  • Defensiveness. If you find yourself explaining and defending your actions, you’re giving your power to the person you are trying to convince. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for doing what’s best for you. You do not need external approval. I find myself doing this often–I’ve asked my husband to call me out when it happens, and I know I need to examine the situation a little further.

Getting Back to Yourself and Your Needs

Once I’ve identified that I’m abandoning myself or people-pleasing, I find the following to be helpful.

  • Meditation. Sometimes quiet and stillness gives my brain room to let ideas come forward. You can go into meditation with a question in mind, or nothing in mind, or even look for a guided meditation to help you visualize what you’re seeking. I find use in each of these approaches depending on where my head’s at.
  • Journaling. This can have similar effects to meditation, though sometimes my thoughts flow more freely when I am putting pen to paper. You can approach journaling similarly to meditation by coming in with a question, or nothing at all in mind, or look up prompts to give you a place to start.
  • Movement. While stillness has its perks, I find that some of my clearest thoughts come when I am out for a walk or run. When my body is occupied by putting one foot in front of the other, my brain has a little space to wander and my truths float to the surface.
  • Embrace conflict. When you start putting yourself first, you may surprise and upset people who have gotten used to you putting their needs first. But why are others’ wants more valuable than yours? Are these really the kind of relationships you want to fight to keep? This is a huge challenge for me, but conflict over something that’s important to me is conflict worth having.
  • Set boundaries. Once you have an idea of yourself and your needs, set boundaries around them. Know the ways you won’t accept being treated and make them clear as people approach or try to break those boundaries.

How do you put yourself first?

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6 Free Ways to Support Your Friend’s Business

Small businesses are often started out of passion and worked on well outside of the traditional work schedule. My husband and I both work on our businesses as “side hustles” – scrounging together time before and after logging into our full time jobs for the day. The time and monetary investments can really add up, but when you’re passionate about something, you find a way to make it work. And the good news is, as the friend of a small business owner, you can help support without spending any money at all!

Before we dive in on how to help, let me start by sharing a few of my favorite small businesses:
Talent 409 Leadership Academy – my husband’s business, inspiring women in sports through leadership and talent development. This is also accompanied by a podcast and a book.
Lumos Infrared Sauna Studio – located in Victor, NY. Sweating it out this beautiful studio is a great way to improve your health. Also, stop and talk to Rachel, the owner, if she’s there. She is one of my best friends and will make your day!
Work For Your Beer – this community of beer and fitness lovers started in CLT but is branching out to more and more cities. Their site is the hub for beer fitness events (think yoga at a brewery – aka, the recipe for a magical day)
Crossfit Dilworth – I tried a lot of gyms when I moved to Charlotte, and I landed here because I love the owners, the workouts, and the members. This gym is inclusive and the energy pushes you to perform without being in your face. Bonus: I coach here, so you can come work out with me!
Give them a follow on social to see more about why I love these businesses! Now, how else can you help support?

Free Ways To Support Small Businesses

  1. Engage with their content. Like, comment and share. I especially love seeing comments from friends on my Instagram posts – I know how much commenting helps with engagement and helps others see my posts. And a quick share to stories can go a long way. Last week, my friend shared a post of mine in her stories and SO many of her followers started following me that day. All of you who have shared my posts, THANK YOU and know that I appreciate you so much!
  2. Share kind words. Getting texts and DMs from friends who felt the content resonated with them or inspired them is so energizing. When you’ve been grinding, it means a lot to hear someone out there is listening.
  3. Suggest ideas for content or products. I love to hear what my audience finds helpful. While I may not execute on every idea, they are always welcome.
  4. Tell your friends about it. Sometimes we forget about traditional word of mouth sharing in the age of social media sharing. Telling your friends about a small business that may resonate with them helps build a fan base just as easily as social shares.
  5. Volunteer to help them. Are you a great graphic designer or a website wizard seeing your friend struggle through these aspects of their business? Volunteer a little time to create something for them, teach them, or provide them with quick tips.
  6. Leave a review. Share some positive impacts the business has had on you, even if you just follow along on social and haven’t purchased any products. It helps legitimize a business that is just getting its start!

Of course, monetary support is always welcome as well. In my case, you can support in the form of program purchases or clicking my affiliate links to shop.

How else have you helped a friend’s small business? Share your ideas below!

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Inspiration and Favorite Quotes from Untamed by Glennon Doyle

I love to read. My go-to genres are fantasy and thrillers, but I’ve also been known to peruse the bestsellers list at Barnes and Noble then put each of those ebooks on hold at my local library. This is how I came across Untamed by Glennon Doyle.

I wasn’t expecting to love it, as an autobiography about someone I’ve never heard of didn’t exactly fit into my typical genres. (PS – turns out I was living under a rock not having heard of her previously, as this is not her first bestseller and she’s married to Abby Wambach, but I digress.) The format of the book is told in short stories, and I was hooked after reading the very first one.

The premise of the book is that women have been “tamed” into behaving in a way that pleases others, instead of believing in themselves and acting in the way that they feel is correct. Glennon’s stories opened my eyes to the may ways I’ve allowed this to happen in my own life. She’s an excellent writer and articulates thoughts so clearly it’s like they’re being screamed in my face for only me to here. I have never highlighted so much of a book. I highly recommend that all women I know read this book, but if reading’s not your thing, I’ve outlined my biggest takeaways and favorite quotes below.

Biggest Takeaways from Untamed:

  1. Stop defending myself and explaining everything that I do. This is a huge part of my character, and it really struck me to read that you only defend things when you think the other person has the power to take said thing away from you. I have always looked outward for approval and had a very hard time hearing that people don’t approve of my decisions. After reading this book, I told my husband to hold me accountable and call me out when I am being defensive (fun job for him, right?). I am a grown ass woman, I don’t owe anyone an explanation for living life my way–and I’ll no longer offer any.
  2. As a mother, it is more beneficial for me to model the life I want my children to have than to sacrifice everything and become a martyr for my children. Of course, motherhood requires a certain level of sacrifice, but we’re taught that mothers should give up everything for their children. In reality, your children are always looking at you for cues on how to live their lives. By accepting less than what you want out of life, your children will see that and can learn to accept less than what they want out of life. If we sacrifice ourselves for our children, and they sacrifice themselves for their children, who actually benefits? What is all this sacrifice and martyrdom for? As I write this, I’m expecting my first daughter (who’s 3 days overdue). I want to raise a strong woman who goes after what she wants and lives a full life. So this is what I will show her.
  3. The answers are inside me, and I can find them through quiet and stillness. This is why I love journaling and meditation – they help me get my thoughts in order. But I still often find myself Googling for solutions when I could make a decision myself if I take the time to sit in my thoughts and feelings.

Favorite Quotes from Untamed:

This is the most revolutionary thing a woman can do: the next precise thing, one thing at a time, without asking permission or offering explanation. This way of life is thrilling.

Glennon Doyle, Untamed

On no longer pleasing others and finding your wild:

  • All of the things that make a woman human are a good girl’s dirty secret.
  • I’d finally asked myself what I wanted instead of what the world wanted from me.
  • The boys looked inside themselves. The girls looked outside themselves. We forgot how to know when we learned how to please. This is why we live hungry.
  • Sometimes I wondered if I wasn’t the only one using her skin to contain herself. Maybe we are all fire wrapped in skin, trying to look cool.
  • I was wild until I was tamed by shame. Until I started hiding and numbing my feelings for fear of being too much.
  • When a woman finally learns that pleasing the world is impossible, she becomes free to learn how to please herself.
  • Rebellion is as much of a cage as obedience is. They both mean living in reaction to someone else’s way instead of forging your own. Freedom is not being for or against an ideal, but creating your own existence from scratch.
  • Why do women find it honorable to dismiss ourselves? Why do we decide that denying our longing is the responsible thing to do? Why do we believe that what will thrill and fulfill us will hurt our people? Why do we mistrust ourselves so completely? Here’s why: Because our culture was built upon and benefits from the control of women. The way power justifies controlling a group is by conditioning the masses to believe that the group cannot be trusted.
  • Every time you’re given a choice between disappointing someone else and disappointing yourself, your duty is to disappoint that someone else. Your job, throughout your entire life, is to disappoint as many people as it takes to avoid disappointing yourself.
  • I have been conditioned to mistrust and dislike strong, confident, happy girls and women. We all have. Studies prove that the more powerful, successful, and happy a man becomes, the more people trust and like him. But the more powerful and happy a woman becomes, the less people like and trust her. So we proclaim: Women are entitled to take their rightful place! Then, when a woman does take her rightful place, our first reaction is: She’s so…entitled. We become people who say of confident women, “I don’t know, I can’t explain it—it’s just something about her. I just don’t like her. I can’t put my finger on why.”
  • I think we are only bitter about other people’s joy in direct proportion to our commitment to keep joy from ourselves.
  • I’m happier now. I’m not doubting myself as much, and that is making me confident and stronger, so I’m suffering less. I have noticed that it seems easier for the world to love a suffering woman than it is for the world to love a joyful, confident woman.

On motherhood and family:

  • A whole family is one in which each member can bring her full self to the table knowing that she will always be both held and free.
  • It’s not hard decisions that mess up kids, it’s indecision. Your kids need to know which way this is going to go.
  • Mothers have martyred themselves in their children’s names since the beginning of time. We have lived as if she who disappears the most, loves the most. We have been conditioned to prove our love by slowly ceasing to exist. What a terrible burden for children to bear—to know that they are the reason their mother stopped living.
  • I would never again settle for a relationship or life less beautiful than the one I’d want for my child.
  • For the first time in my life, I decided to trust myself—even though that meant moving in direct opposition to my parents. I decided to please myself instead of my parents. I decided to become responsible for my own life, my own joy, my own family. And I decided to do it with love. That is when I became an adult.
  • When you are ready to come to our island with nothing but wild acceptance and joy and celebration for our true, beautiful family, we’ll lower the drawbridge for you. But not one second sooner.
  • A woman becomes a responsible parent when she stops being an obedient daughter. When she finally understands that she is creating something different from what her parents created. When she begins to build her island not to their specifications but to hers. When she finally understands that it is not her duty to convince everyone on her island to accept and respect her and her children. It is her duty to allow onto her island only those who already do and who will walk across the drawbridge as the beloved, respectful guests they are.

On change and feeling it all:

  • To be alive is to be in a perpetual state of revolution. Whether I like it or not, pain is the fuel of revolution.
  • What scares me more than feeling it all is missing it all.
  • The truest, most beautiful life never promises to be an easy one. We need to let go of the lie that it’s supposed to be.
  • Being human is not hard because you’re doing it wrong, it’s hard because you’re doing it right. You will never change the fact that being human is hard, so you must change your idea that it was ever supposed to be easy.
  • The moment after we don’t know what to do with ourselves is the moment we find ourselves. Right after itchy boredom is self-discovery. But we have to hang in there long enough without bailing.
  • Hard work is important. So are play and nonproductivity. My worth is tied not to my productivity but to my existence. I am worthy of rest.
  • Anger delivers our boundaries to us. Our boundaries deliver our beliefs to us. Our beliefs determine how we experience the world. So even though it can be scary, we’d be wise to answer the door.

On bravery and truth:

  • The opposite of sensitive is not brave. It’s not brave to refuse to pay attention, to refuse to notice, to refuse to feel and know and imagine. The opposite of sensitive is insensitive, and that’s no badge of honor.
  • Then I built a life of my own. I did it by resurrecting the very parts of myself I was trained to mistrust, hide, and abandon in order to keep others comfortable: My emotions My intuition My imagination My courage Those are the keys to freedom. Those are who we are. Will we be brave enough to unlock ourselves? Will we be brave enough to set ourselves free?
  • What is better: uncomfortable truth or comfortable lies? Every truth is a kindness, even if it makes others uncomfortable. Every untruth is an unkindness, even if it makes others comfortable.
  • Anything or anyone I could lose by telling the truth was never mine anyway. I’m willing to lose anything that requires me to hide any part of myself.

I’d also feel remiss not to touch on how moved I was by her short story on race and all that she does in the name of social justice with Together Rising. But my words could not do hers justice, I would recommend reading the book or giving her a follow on social to learn more!

Have you read Untamed? I’d love to hear your thoughts. And if not, get your copy here!

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Moving to Charlotte: my struggles and how I got through them

When I moved from Syracuse to Charlotte, I went through a period of time where I questioned my decision. Now, less than a year later, I’ve purchased my first home (in Charlotte!) and am here to stay. My first-ever “vlog” documents my journey: how I felt and what I went through! I’d love to hear what you thought about this in the comments, via email, or DMs!
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Travel Diaries: Atlanta Recap

One of my husband’s goals is to see all of the MLB stadiums in America. Being the great wife that I am, for his 30th birthday I gifted him tickets to see the Braves and Brewers play at SunTrust stadium in Atlanta. It didn’t hurt that now that we’re in the south, Atlanta is only a 4-hour drive and the closest stadium to our home city of Charlotte. Perfect for a weekend trip!

We kicked the weekend off by taking a half day on Friday to drive to our AirBnb in Atlanta. I chose a reasonably-priced one-bedroom apartment in midtown Atlanta with free parking and gym access. It was also conveniently located with lots of great places to walk to nearby! When we travel, we typically only use the AirBnb’s for showering and sleeping, so amenities aren’t that important to me, but the gym on site was great!

Once we dropped off our bags, we walked about a block away to get dinner at Papi’s Cuban Grill. I’d never had authentic Cuban food and this did not disappoint! Their skinny marg and Pollo Vaca Frita (pictured below) was exactly what I needed after that drive. Tequila, vegetables, and chicken: what more could I ask for?

After dinner, we decided to check out the Georgia Aquarium (it was a nice little break before we started drinking more, okay?). Once I knew we were going to Atlanta, this is one of the first “must-do” activities I put on the list. I’d never been to an aquarium before and this set the bar pretty high. The range of sea life was amazing! I particularly loved the jellyfish, penguins, and the area where you could walk through a glass hallway underneath/among a huge pool of different fish. I highly recommend making the trip if you’re in Atlanta. It’s a kid-friendly activity, but as adults, we definitely enjoyed it too. As an added bonus: all of the tourist attractions of Atlanta are located right next to each other, so if you plan on touring Coca-Cola or CNN (neither of which we did) or walking through Centennial Park (this we did do!) then you can knock them all out in a few hours without transportation.

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I asked around for advice on what we should do while in Atlanta, and multiple people suggested Ponce City Market, which is where we headed next! It’s super cool and full of different shops and restaurants. We got edible cookie dough from Batter Cookie Dough Counter and walked around. I enjoyed it, but if I did this trip over again, I would’ve saved Ponce City Market for a brunch trip. It’s nice because since there’s a food hall, you can get food and (alcoholic) drinks from multiple restaurants and consume it anywhere. So, if you’re with friends and you all want different things, no problem. Order from the restaurant of your choice and meet up in the middle to eat together! We also had a hard time figuring out how to get onto the rooftop, and by the time we figured it out, we were over it and skipped out. That’s one other thing I’d do if I go back to Atlanta: get on that rooftop!

By this point we were starting to wind down and walked to a brewery near our AirBnb called Torched Hop. They had great beers and we loved the vibe! I prefer breweries during the day and have a hard time drinking craft beer at night, but they had great cocktails so I was saved. My husband loved the beers though! We were really happy to find a good brewery because the craft beer scene is so big in Charlotte that we’re used to spending more time at breweries than bars these days.

That was our last stop of the night before heading back to our AirBnb to rest up for the long Saturday ahead!

Saturday kicked off at the gym in our AirBnb. My husband and I did a partner workout (in the caption here). We like to work for our beer, so a quick HIIT session did the trick!

Post-workout, we walked to brunch at Babs Midtown, where we had Blood Orange Mimosas with our breakfast food. I don’t remember what we got to eat, but I remember it being good, and I definitely remember those mimosas!

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Once we’d kicked off the day with drinks, we decided to embark on a drinking tour of Atlanta. First stop (at my husband’s request): an Irish bar called Meehan’s Public House. I usually love Irish bars, but it was a dark bar with only indoor seating and it was so beautiful outside I couldn’t stay too long. It would be a great spot to watch a game or spend some time in the rainy weather, though.

We headed out down the block to the Atlanta Braves bar in anticipation of the game later on! I didn’t have high expectations of a sports bar in the city, but my god, the service at this place blew me away! Our bartenders were extremely friendly and carried on interesting conversations with us while slinging amazing drinks. When we decided to leave, they handwrote a list of cool places for us to check out. It was so nice! If I go back to Atlanta, I will 100% go back to this bar for the service.

Based on the list given to us by these friendly bartenders, we headed to Little Five Points (not to be mistaken with Five Points–apparently if it’s not “Little” Five Points, you’ll have big problems!). This artsy neighborhood is full of vintage shops and dive bars and reminded us of our neighborhood in Charlotte, Plaza Midwood. We went to Little 5 Corner Tavern, a fun little dive bar. This is definitely an area I would explore more if I ever go back to Atlanta! It feels less touristy than the downtown area and I’m a sucker for neighborhoods with character, which Little Five Points had in abundance!

By this point in the day, we were ready for some lunch and headed to SweetWater Brewing at the recommendation of a friend. This was one of my favorite things we did in Atlanta. The brewery is a good size and has a lot of outdoor seating (perfect for day drinking in the beautiful Southern weather). The food and beer selection was also great! Apparently, they’re pretty new to serving food, but we were not disappointed. We each had a salad and beers (mine sours, Colin’s IPA’s). It’s not my favorite brewery of all-time (currently that’s Sierra Nevada in Asheville) but I’d put it in my top 10!

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Last but not least, we decided it was time to head to SunTrust Park for the Braves game. I had not been looking forward to it (my husband loves baseball enough for the both of us–I personally find it pretty boring) but it was the surprise of the trip. It ended up being my favorite thing we did! The park is brand new and beautiful. Working in marketing, I can fully appreciate the effort that went into creating the ultimate fan experience. It’s not just a baseball stadium: there are bars surrounding it and carnival games and a zipline within it. The food and drinks were super cheap (which I did NOT expect since Yankee Stadium was my only prior MLB experience). If you plan on visiting any MLB stadiums, move this one up on your list. And if you don’t, but you find yourself in Atlanta, I highly recommend catching a game here!

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After a long Saturday, we Ubered back to our AirBnb. We woke up Sunday and went to breakfast at Flying Biscuit (YUM – biscuits are the king of breakfast in the South and I judge people who don’t order them). They’re actually a franchise with locations in Charlotte but we had never been and it was highly rated so we checked it out. It was good and the service was quick, but my favorite thing about eating here was actually that the restaurant was located right near a big, beautiful park that we walked around as our breakfast digested. This also gave us time to wait for our last stop of the trip to open up: the College Football Hall of Fame.

Again, this was not something I was particularly interested in (sensing a theme here? not a big sports fan!). And again, I was surprised. Where I was expecting a traditional museum, this was instead a digitally personalized experience. Upon entering you get a “pass” that identifies you and your team of choice. The exhibits then change to display facts about your school. I wasn’t expecting to see much as a Syracuse University alum, but I ended up learning a lot about my school’s history with football. Colin, of course, had plenty to do as a Penn State fan. We also enjoyed the indoor playing field where I threw a pretty solid spiral directly into the target! Overall, it was a pretty good experience.

I enjoyed Atlanta, and while I mentioned there were things I’d do if I go back, it’s not someplace I’m dying to go back to (unlike Asheville, where I would go 100 more times). Have you been? I’d love to know what you think of the city and what you did while you were there!

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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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2018 Holiday Gift Guide for Fitness Lovers

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! I’m a sucker for the holidays (hence my December 16 wedding). I love the cheer, the decor, and showing the people in my life how much I love and appreciate them with gifts!

Now that December’s here, gifts are top of mind for me. Through my own search, I’ve highlighted my top suggestions for the fitness lovers in your life below!

  1. Fre skincare. Fre is the first line of skincare created specifically for skin that sweats. The ingredients are high-quality and smell amazing–I feel like I’m at a bougie spa when I’m using them. The products really help keep skin moisturized and feeling smooth. I’ve been using Fre for months now and am so pleased with how my skin looks and feels! And to top it all off, this company has amazing values. They plant an argan tree for every 123FRÉ set sold. Out of all the options they have, I would recommend the 123FRÉ set + Glow Me. The 123FRÉ set includes the core, daily-use products, and Glow Me is a tinted moisturizer that truly makes my skin glow while lightly masking any red spots on my skin. When I use Glow Me, I leave the house feeling confident without any makeup on. Check it out–code STODDS gets you a discount at checkout!
  2. HIIT at Home. Fitness is the gift that keeps on giving! This program is perfect for someone looking to get in shape without spending hours at the gym. It requires 30 minutes a day, 5 days/week, and NO EQUIPMENT. Help someone in your life get stronger, leaner, and more confident in 2019 with HIIT at Home!
  3. Work For Your Beer Shirt. How fun are these? If you know someone who loves burpees as much as they love beer, these shirts make a great gift. There’s also a “Work For Your Wine” shirt for the wine-os out there. I get stopped and complimented on these tanks every single time I wear them. Check them out, and code CHRISTINE15 gets you a discount at checkout!
  4. Apple Watch. I live and die by my Apple Watch. I actually tried to wear it on my wedding day until my friends pried it off me, and I haven’t gone a day without it besides that. I have super aggressive tan lines to it because it’s always on. I can’t say enough about how much I love it! Anyway, it’s on this list because fitness enthusiasts like to chase goals and quantify their efforts, and the Apple Watch delivers on both. You can see how many calories you burn in a variety of workouts, see accurate mileage for runs/bike rides/swims, and set workout-specific and daily calorie-specific goals for yourself. I also love that I can go for a run without my phone, and just use my watch and Air Pods to listen to music or podcasts. Which brings me to my next suggestion..
  5. Air Pods. I do admittedly LOVE apple products (I’m obsessed with my iPhone XS max, apple watch, air pods, etc) but Air Pods are my all-time favorite. They stay in really well, there’s no cord hitting me during my workouts (I hate the sound of that), and when you pull one out of your ear, it automatically pauses what you’re listening to. The sound quality is great. Anyone who works out by themselves NEEDS these.
  6. Speed Ladder. Speed ladders are inexpensive, easy to transport and add so much variety to your training. It’s great for anyone who likes to train like an athlete or wants to add something new to their home workouts. I use my speed ladder as a finisher at the end of most of my workouts. It’s challenging and fun.
  7. Jump Rope. Similar to speed ladders, jump ropes are also inexpensive, easy to transport, and allow you to add a challenge and variety to your workouts. My rope is from double under wonder – I liked customizing it and I like having a little bag to keep it in when I take it to and from the gym.

So, there you have it! What would you add to this list?