My Desire to Get Physically and Mentally in Shape in 2018

I would like to preface this post by saying that my goal is not at all to lose weight–– I am 110% happy with how much I weigh and have no desire to change that. I just want to start eating better and get stronger physically and mentally. I would also like to become more toned and lower my body fat percentage. I realize that all of these goals are within reach as long as I get into a good routine, which is my goal for 2018!



BEFORE COLLEGE 

Growing up, I could eat whatever I wanted and I was skinny as a rail. I was pretty athletic–– I played varsity tennis throughout high school, and although I would legitimately eat cheeseburgers before practice, I was still a size 00 until I was 16–– totally 100% genetics. I could probably eat 3,000 calories a day and get away with it, even during the tennis offseason when I was not really practicing. People on the tennis team used to make fun of me and tell me to eat a sandwich because I was that skinny. I also didn't go through puberty until 16 years old, which didn't help. Although I was small, I ate like garbage. I would have a diet coke and cake for breakfast, skip lunch at school, have a terribly unhealthy snack before tennis, and then eat dinner. I appeared to be physically okay, but I now understand why I had terrible acne all throughout my teen years!

AT ROLLINS COLLEGE

When I went to college, I gained a little weight as I stopped working out every day. I maintained my weight freshman year, but when I transferred to Rollins sophomore year, made friends, and started going out more, my body started changing. It wasn't necessarily a bad change, but I definitely felt different. I was tired more often, didn't exercise as often, and when I did fall into cycles of exercising, they only lasted a few months and then I would miss one workout which would lead to me stopping completely. I'm the type of person that gets derailed pretty easily, so if I want to commit to something, I have to be ALL IN.

I have tried a ton of workouts in the past 5 years and although I'm getting close to a schedule that works for me, I am still not there yet. I tried OrangeTheory when I was at Rollins and liked it, but I am now realizing that the reason I got burned out on it so quickly is that I went from not working out at all to doing serious HIIT training 4x a week. I could barely run half a mile and they had me booking it on the treadmill at 7.5mph. Not what I needed at all. I also tried barre when I was in college, but I missed one class and then never went back. I am the worst. Oddly enough, the point in my life when I was the healthiest and feeling the best was this past spring–– I wasn't pushing myself like crazy when working out, but simply going on a 5-mile walk/jog every day after I was done with class. I lost about 5 lbs in a month! I felt and slept better at night, but I still wasn't eating right and still had days where I felt like total shit.

WHERE I'M AT NOW

I've now graduated, moved to NYC, and started a job at a natural food company, and while it is a company with a much healthier culture, it's hard to resist snacking in the office because food is ALWAYS around–– catered lunches every Wednesday (including pizza and Chinese food), photoshoots with delicious food props, every potato chip flavor imaginable in the cabinet, barkTHINS, an entire ice cream freezer filled with Ben & Jerry's–– you guys, it's tough because temptation is lurking everywhere. I'm also in charge of ordering the snacks and setting up catering, which does not help at all because I have total control of what is coming through the office doors (the pressure–– epecially since everyone has requests and opinions on what I should get). I stopped packing my own healthy lunches and started eating popcorn and chips and peanut butter and pretzels for lunch because it was convenient and I was lazy. For a while, I was skipping breakfast to attempt intermittent fasting and by 10:00am, I would be so hangry that I would devour everything in sight just to stave off being a total bitch.

On top of that, moving to the city puts a food spell on you–– there are amazing restaurants on every corner, and you have this innate feeling that you have to try everything at the menu all at once, so you end up majorly binging and feeling like crap the next day.

Since moving to NYC, I have tried Barry's Bootcamp (OrangeTheory on steroids; thankfully I was way more in shape when giving it a go), countless spin classes, and barre classes. At first, I kind of just tried everything and didn't know what I was looking for and I would struggle to get through classes because they were not for me and I would not be mentally checked in. It takes awhile to find a class that you really click with, and thankfully I have found two–– Swerve Cycling and Physique 57 barre classes. I found Swerve on ClassPass and the first class I took there was instructed by Todd. I legitimately fell in love with his teaching style/energy and will only go to him now (unless it's a spin emergency and his classes don't fit in my schedule; then I will go to Flywheel), and he recently started teaching barre classes at Physique 57 too. I've only taken one of his barre classes and I am already hooked! I really trust him and always feel my best after leaving a class taught by him. He honestly motivates me so much, and I always want to give 120% when I am in one of his classes. 

WHERE I WANT TO BE

I definitely feel stronger since I have started taking Todd's classes, but I am still desiring more. I want to have a cleaner diet, practice mindfulness, get toned, and just get myself in check this year. I'm turning 23 years old, and while that seems super young, how I treat my body in the present is a foundation for how healthy and fit I will be in the future. I owe it to myself to make these changes now. Right now, focusing on working out and lifestyle changes makes me happy, and because of that, I will probably decrease how much I post about outfits and clothing–– it's easy to get wrapped up in this stuff, especially when you have been a fashion blogger for over 3 years. It's hard to know when to slow down with it and redefine what you want your priorities to be, especially when you're making good money posting about the latest trends, even when you don't honestly give a shit about them anymore. I will still post outfits from time to time, I promise, but there will definitely be new posts in the mix. 

In the past, I have refused to make New Year's goals because I didn't believe in them and I believed the specificity of them would lead me to abandon them altogether. Now, I am realizing that I need specificity so the goals I am aiming for are defined and not ambiguous. My goals are as follows:
  • Start every month by coming up with goals for the month–– goals that I have in January may be well completed by March, and I might need to readjust my path as needed! For example, if I decide one month that I want to do 10 pull ups, I might knock that goal out and then want to up it to 20 the next month. We as humans change a ton, so our goals should change too!
  • For January, I want to work out 4-5 times a week, try a new workout class, and delve into the world of meal prep! 
  • I also want to be more mindful of how I feel and check in with myself at the end of each week to see how I am doing overall. How is my happiness? Am I feeling physically/mentally stronger? Is something getting in the way of me completing a goal? How can I fix this and get rid of the obstacle?

THE CHALLENGE OF GETTING THERE

I have it all planned out in my head–– I'm 90% sure I know how I want to achieve these things, but the one thing bumming me out about it is the freezing cold weather I'm going back to in NYC (I'm currently in Savannah for the holidays writing this). It is going to be freakishly hard to walk to Swerve Cycling to do a spin class in below freezing temps when it is a mile away from my apartment (it takes longer by Subway). I will probably have to literally drag myself out of spin class to get home because walking in the cold is the worst when you're sweaty. I want to get up in the mornings and crush workouts in my apartment gym, but it's hard to be motivated when it's pitch black out. Grocery shopping in NYC is painful as it is–– checkout lines after work are usually 30 minutes long, but trudging to the store and back in the snow is even worse. I have to learn how to knock out these obstacles and overcome them so I can be the best I can be!

HOW I PLAN ON GETTING THERE

I am the type of person that needs constant motivation and accountability in some form, so for Christmas, I asked for an Apple watch. I wanted to use it to track workouts, and so far, I have worked out every single day since my mom and dad got it for me (even on Christmas)! I love how the watch allows you to share your activity levels with your friends, as this adds a friendly yet competitive element to it–– I love seeing my friends crush their workouts, and it inspires me to do the same. If they can get off the couch, so can I! It might sound silly that buying a watch could lead to me reaching my goals, but it makes the whole process more fun to me and that's what matters. Getting fit should not feel like a chore, it should be desirable!

Another thing that is majorly helping me out so far is knowing that I am going on a trip with my friend Ashley to the Bahamas in May–– vacations are always major motivation to me because it's always nice to not only look your best but also feel your best when on vacation. It's much easier to relax and have fun when you feel like a million bucks. I haven't been on a beach vacation in awhile, and Ashley has actually never been to an island (her family is a huge "ski-trip" family). We keep sending each other BFF workouts we want to try when we get there, and cute workout gear/swimsuits we want to wear in the island sun. I am also planning to visit Rollins for Alumni week in March the weekend before my birthday, and I would love to feel my best for that too!

GET FIT WITH ME

A ton of you have reached out to me since I announced on Instagram that I wanted to shift to lifestyle posting in 2018, and many of you want to join me in making positive health changes–– a surprising amount of followers suggested that I come up with my own challenge for us to all do together so we can hold each other accountable. I am not sure what that would look like, but if anyone has any suggestions, let me know! Maybe we can come up with our own hashtag to post Instagram inspiration under or something–– is that silly? 

Also, a ton of you guys wanted me to do an Apple watch review specifically for its health/fitness features, so if that's something you are interested in seeing, let me know! I've never really focused on lifestyle posting before, so if you have any topics or post ideas you'd like me to attempt to write about, suggestions are welcome! 

2018 is our year!

2017 Holiday Gift Guide: For the After-Party Host



This gift guide was highly requested–– a ton of you guys asked me via Instagram messages to create an alcohol-themed gift guide. I don't drink that much anymore (I don't drink during the week at all unless it's a special occasion and I rarely drink on the weekends), but I still love a good bar cart and the accessories that come with it!

The one thing I actually really want from this list is the Clean Cocktails book. My friend's aunt is one of the authors, and I am always looking for new drink recipes–– especially healthier ones! I think it would make for a pretty unique gift. It could even be used as a coffee table book.

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3 Healther Versions of Your Fave Breakfasts

I want to start writing more about health and lifestyle on the blog, and I thought this would be a fun way to kick it off. I love eating breakfast, and I love sweets (chocolate chip pancakes are my weakness, as are fried breakfast potatoes). I am also trying to stay healthy and eat cleaner, which means that I'm trying to limit how much I eat these things. Lately, I've been having a banana for breakfast or skipping it entirely. I was making these recipes a ton before I started my job, and I should still be making them, even if I lose 10 minutes of sleep in the morning. Breakfast is so important! All take under ten minutes and would be perfect for before work or school, and all of them can be made with ingredients you most likely already have in your pantry! I have made all of the recipes below single serving, so if you want to make for a friend as well, double everything.

Note: This post has been sitting in my drafts waiting to be published for three months, and the one thing holding me back from publishing was the lack of images I had to put in the post. I really hate using images I found online instead of my own, but it's now dark when I wake up so breakfast photography isn't an option. It was either google images or waiting until spring to post this, so I chose the former over the latter. I will say that when I make these recipes, they don't look as good as the photos, but they still look pretty good and taste phenomenal!

HEALTHY FRENCH TOAST
Ingredients:
  • 2 pieces of Ezekiel bread (I recommend the 4:9 kind, but the cinnamon raisin makes a fun version too)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 small splash of vanilla
  • coconut oil cooking spray
  • agave, honey, or maple syrup (optional)

Directions: Beat egg, almond milk, vanilla, and cinnamon together. Dip both pieces of bread in the egg mixture to coat each side thoroughly and evenly. Heat a small spray of the coconut oil cooking spray in a non-stick pan over medium heat. Cook the bread until it's golden on each side and serve hot. I prefer eating mine with low-sugar syrup, but you could also eat it with agave or honey! 

HEALTHY PB&B TOAST

I wasn't lazy and actually took this photo! I ate the other slice I made before taking the photo because I was severely hangry.

Ingredients:
  • 2 Pieces of Ezekiel 4:9 bread or one Ezekiel English muffin 
  • 1 banana
  • 2 tablespoons of natural, no sugar added peanut butter 
  • cinnamon (optional)

Directions: This recipe is ideal for dorm rooms because you only need a toaster (if they allow you to have one). It's also pretty self-explanatory! Toast both pieces of bread to your liking, spread a tablespoon of peanut butter on each piece, and cut the banana into small circular slices. Place the banana slices on the bread and garnish with a dash of cinnamon if you'd like. Sometimes when I have a major sweet tooth, I will drizzle a very small amount of honey over the bananas.

HEALTHY PANCAKES
image via

Ingredients:
  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 4 tablespoons almond milk
  • coconut oil spray
  • cinnamon or chocolate chips (optional)
  • agave, honey, or maple syrup (optional)

Directions: Blend banana, oats, and almond milk in a blender (I use a Nutribullet) until smooth. Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat and spray some coconut oil spray in it to prevent sticking. Pour the batter into the pan, making the size pancakes you desire. Cook until the pancakes start bubbling and are ready to flip, and then flip and cook for an additional minute on the other side. Serve with either cinnamon or a small sprinkle of chocolate chips, and drizzle your choice of sweetener over the top. If you want to double the batch, you can freeze the leftover pancakes to reheat in the future!

Ten Facts You Don't Know About Me

I feel like I am constantly uploading outfit photos and advice on here, but I'm never really sharing things about myself, such as my passions and goals. It's nice to show readers my favorite monthly clothing items and holiday gift guides, but I thought I would take a break from those and share more about myself. If you've been reading my blog since I started it three (almost four) years ago, you might know a lot about me already, but I have compiled a list of things you might not know!

  1. I used to hate reading, but I have forced myself to get back into it and now I love it. I don't have much time to read during the week so I have to remind myself to make time, but I read a ton when I am home and when I am traveling. It usually takes me less than a week to read a book cover to cover, and most of the time, I'll finish a book in two days because I get so drawn in. I am keeping a running list of what I have read the past few months and what I am currently reading here.
  2. Although I love NYC, I don't plan on living here more than three years total. I love living in different places and learning as much about a city as possible, so I am mentally giving myself a limit on how long I'll be here. Some places would love to live in the future are Boston (even though I have never been), Miami, somewhere in Texas, San Francisco/Bay Area, or honestly abroad. I've thought about teaching English in a foreign country or joining the Peace Corps. Of course, it seems to be a trend that nothing in my life happens the way I will envision it so I might be here until the day I die. I guess not knowing what will happen is the fun of it all!
  3. The one food I cannot resist is french fries. Put an entire basket of them in front of me and I will finish them. French fries are my biggest weakness, and I would eat them every single meal if I could. My second favorite food is a really good cheeseburger. I know, I am the image of perfect health.
  4. One of my goals for next year is to first run a 5k, then a 10k, and then a half-marathon. I feel like putting this in writing on the blog might actually hold me accountable because damn, I hate running. It's such a mental thing to me and my thoughts wander and it's just plain torture. I am physically capable of running 3 miles without stopping right now and that's about it. I need to train myself to be mentally capable of doing even longer distance because that's what is ultimately holding me back. Another hard thing about training towards this goal is that I hate running inside, but there's no way I am going to run along the East River during a New York winter. Running outside is just so much better because you're not constantly staring at the distance and time on the treadmill!
  5. Although I rarely watch sports because of how busy I am and how little cable I have, I absolutely love to. In high school, I would watch every single televised tennis tournament obsessively–– I lived and breathed tennis. I still love it but don't have as much time to watch it and play it anymore as I used to–– I did go to the US Open this year though. I also love watching college football (You'll find me rooting for UGA and Miami) and golf (the Masters gets me going).  Also, my favorite thing ever is the Summer Olympics–– I'm literally plastered in front of the TV for the entire duration of it. Olympic gymnastics gives me the chills.
  6. I don't consider myself to be super fashionable. I think I dress pretty average, actually. In fact, I am constantly looking at people around me and I obsess over what they wear and I wish I were as fashionable as them. I am constantly feeling underdressed and I sometimes am insecure about what I am wearing. Five years ago, I would have never guessed that I would be able to make a profit off of fashion blogging. To this day, it's still so weird to me that it's such a big part of my life.
  7. This kind of maybe goes with #6, but I rarely tell people I meet that I have a blog. They either weirdly find it through their Instagram explore page or it comes up months after I know them. Now that I have changed my Instagram handle to be my full name with the introduction of my rebrand, it's come up more often. Even though it's a huge part of my life, I like to keep a divide between it and my personal life. Things seem more controlled and make more sense to me when it's that way.
  8. I have never in my entire life been able to touch my toes, but I can put both feet behind my head. I would gladly give up that useless party trick to be able to touch my toes and feel the satisfying stretch. I have the tightest hips and hamstrings in the world and even did yoga lessons for years in high school to help that and my back. Nothing can correct it, and I have come to accept that these toes were not made for touching.
  9. I have absolutely no clue what my dream job would be. Is that weird? I have so many things I would want to potentially do–– I'd love to have my own non-profit charity, be a professional photographer, be a travel blogger that gets paid to go on vacation (to be honest this sounds like the winner right now), or even be a criminal defense attorney like my father. I've never been able to pinpoint one thing that I would want to do for the rest of my life because I like variety and constant change.
  10. If you ask me if I have seen [insert literally any movie title here], chances are I probably haven't. It seems like I am always the person in my friend group that hasn't seen a movie that literally the entire world has seen. Titanic? Never seen it. Superbad? Never seen it. Anchorman? Never seen it. 

So, did you guys like this type of post? I like getting feedback when I do new things. Also, feel free to tell me more about yourselves in the comments below. I love getting to know my readers!

November Favorites

Wow, I have managed to keep a blog series going for 2 months! At the end of last month, I posted my October favorites, and today, I want to share the things I have fallen in love with this month. There are so many interesting/lovely things I have come across, whether it be a new book or an insightful article. I also have a few new clothing favorites, and I want to share my long-time beauty favorites with you that I re-fell in love with this month.

Favorite book this month: The Woman in Cabin 10
I read this on the flight home for Thanksgiving and I really liked it because it was a thrilling, easy read and it was one of those novels you don't put down start to finish because you're so drawn in.

Favorite blog post this month: "First Job Advice," Carly the Prepster
Well, this post was not published this month, but it is one that I really wanted to share with you guys because all of Carly's points are so true. A ton of you guys have been asking me for first job advice, especially since I started my job at the beginning of October, and every time someone emails me to ask, I point them in the direction of this post. Carly has always given great advice on her blog, which is why it will always be one of my favorites that I check weekly. She is like a big sister! One of the biggest things from her post that I want to reiterate is that in your first job, nothing is beneath you. Do everything you can to show that you're there to work hard and prove yourself–– it shows you really appreciate the job you have. Also, find a work buddy. I found mine, and she's as obsessed with chocolate chip cookies and the TV show Riverdale as I am. It'll make your day that much better!

My current Spotify playlist: Fall 2017 (best when shuffled)

Favorite shoes/clothing purchases:




Favorite hair/beauty products:




2017 Holiday Gift Guide: Gifts Under $10

This specific gift guide was highly requested, and I can understand why–– there are many reasons one might not want to shell out an exorbitant amount of money on a gift, whether it be for a white elephant exchange, a co-worker you feel obligated to get something for, or you're just a #broke college kid who still wants to buy something cute for her friends. All of those reasons totally make sense, but affordable items have been underrepresented in blogger gift guides I have seen so far. I had fun picking these out, and they are all gifts I would not mind receiving. I like them because they don't look like they are all under $10, but they totally are!

Also, all of these gifts would make amazing stocking stuffers. I love receiving small yet thoughtful gifts in my stocking and travel sized products definitely do the trick. Burt's Bees? Yes please!

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2017 Holiday Gift Guide: For Mom

Getting the perfect gift for your mom does not have to be hard. My mom always loves luxurious makeups and lotions, a new tote, or comfy sneakers. All of these gift ideas are great because they are thoughtful and will make your mother think that you put a lot of effort into getting her the perfect thing! My wildcard pick was the cheese board because I would probably never get my own mother that, but I kind of want one for myself (mom at heart, here) and this one is perfect–– marble and gold... what else could ya want? Also, how cute are those stackable rings? They are delicate but still make a statement.

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2017 Holiday Gift Guide: For the BFF

I was gonna hold off on posting this gift guide until the end of the week, but I had to post it early because most of this stuff is on sale since it's Cyber Monday! To me, all of the gifts above would be perfect to give to your best friend (or even your sister). All of these items are super affordable (the DryBar set is a splurge, but really on sale right now) and most are pretty practical and can be worn or used for years!

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2017 Holiday Gift Guide: Cozy Gifts

I have gotten a great response from the gift guides I have posted so far, so I thought I would continue to put them out! Today's is dedicated to cozy items for days when being by the fireplace is necessary. I have a few of these items (the red striped sleep leggings, both candles, the OnePiece onesie, the Barefoot Dreams throw, and a Nespresso machine where I work) so I can definitely say these are 100% Isabella Darden approved! Most of these items are also on sale today since it's Cyber Monday, so pull out those credit cards and get them while you can!

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All Black Almost Everything

My "power outfit" (the outfit that makes me feel badass) lately is all black. It's super slimming, easy to throw together, and dressing in a monochromatic manner is super in right now. This exact outfit is one of my favorites because it looks like a lot of effort was put into it, but it could not be more effortless and comfortable. It's like chic pajamas!

Let's talk about these faux leather Spanx leggings–– they are on sale right now via the Anthropologie website, and they are unreal. I had heard so many good things about them and didn't want to buy into the hype because they are kind of expensive, but I got them last week and I am totally in love with them. They are worth the $100 (but seriously they are 30% off right now so get them while you can).

Also, if you haven't noticed, one of my favorite ways to dress up an outfit is a neck scarf. I picked this one up over the summer, and then my mom got me the same one accidentally a few months later. Rather than return it, we have decided to give it away to one of you guys! Keep your eyes peeled for my Instagram to see how you can score this same one–– I'll be posting a mini giveaway later!

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New York City Room Update

One of my favorite things about living in this city is being able to come home after a long day of work to my cozy room. In my last apartment, I had bright gallery walls and chaoticness in a way that made me never feel truly relaxed and calm in my own space. This time around, I decided to stick to a muted color palette and cozy materials (my favorite cotton sheets, a linen duvet cover, and velvet pillow). Having a linen duvet means it's always wrinkled, but it's seriously so comfortable that I don't care. I also love that most apartments in NYC come with hardwood or laminate floors–– I hate carpet, and I love having the choice of putting down whatever rug I want. Since my room is super rectangular and rather small, it was hard to take wide-angle photos of the space.


I tried to link to the products that I thought would be the most popular, but if you want to know where anything else is from let me know. I also explained where certain things are from and provided more detail in the video so I would recommend watching that before asking questions! My storage bed is from Ikea but for some reason, it won't link. I managed to decorate this room while spending as little money as possible. I think the most expensive thing was my mattress, which I got from here. My full mattress was only $625 and for being one of those mattresses that comes in a box, it's so so comfortable. I think it's better than the Casper mattresses!! My actual storage bed frame cost less, and my nightstand was under $200!

I am not done with decorating my room, so this probably won't be my final post–– I still want to find a colorful art piece to hang behind my TV, and I think some details could be added here and there. I wanted to go ahead and share photos of it anyway because I am not sure what the timeline of me being fully done is–– working 10 hours almost every day leaves little time to design!

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