Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Who better than you?

There are so many people out in the world and so many influences on who you are but wouldn't you much rather just be you? One of my favorite quotes comes from Dr. Seuss:

Yes, Blake Lively is gorgeous and has the seemingly perfect life, but why focus on why you aren't her and focus on who you are and how you can be the best you. 
When I was obtaining my undergraduate degree I interned with Distinguished Young Women. They are an organization that is a scholarship competition for high school senior girls. Working there I learned so much about how important it is to appreciate who you are and one of their philosophies they focused on was 'being your best self.' 

It took me another two years to really understand the potential I had in changing my life to become someone who I could love for being me. I used to be over 300 pounds and I loathed myself from the outside in. It was a very toxic relationship with myself where I would find comfort in food. When something upset me instead of trying to figure out where the source was coming from and trying to fix the problem I would make myself feel better by eating an entire package of double stuffed Oreos. Trust me when I say that is NOT the way to make yourself happy. I would feel better for a little bit but would then go into more self loathing for just eating an entire package of Oreos! Not good. 

This is what I looked like before I began my journey

So, how do you stop getting in your way? People ask me all of the time what made me take the jump and honestly I got tired of watching others around me enjoy their lives while I was sitting in the background embarrassed by the way I looked and I wanted to be the person at the center of the stage of my own life. There is no amount of others telling you to do it or encouraging you that can make you will yourself to begin changing until you are ready. I had hit that point very clearly and was determined. 

Now, I had very MANY people who in the beginning thought it was nice that I was trying to get healthy but really didn't think I would be able to make it past a week (maybe less). This, honestly, pushed me even harder (being the competitive person that I am) to prove them and myself wrong. Of course I had many doubts about if I could do it and if my will power would win out over the craving for ice cream. 

Unlike some, I was not the person who could just ease into a healthy lifestyle slowly, it was go hard or go home. I knew myself too well. I knew that if I gave myself 'cheat days' or only cut out certain things it would do nothing but make me want to quit. So I went cold turkey and decided to begin clean eating. If you are unfamiliar with this it is really simple. Cut out the crap. No gluten, no dairy, no processed food. Just whole, natural ingredients with no additives. You may not believe me but honestly it was not as difficult as I first though it might be. My determination outweighed my want to have junk. The first week I lost 7 pounds and by the fourth month I had lost 35 pounds without having to workout once. Now I have lost a total of 90 pounds.
These were taken Sunday (Jan 25, 2015)

I never believed people who told me that being healthy is 80% what you eat and 20% exercising but it honestly is the truth. After I began losing more and more weight I thought "hey I need to tone all of this loose fat" so my best friend Amber suggested I start going to Pure Barre. Well, if you have seen my previous post about all the things I LOVE about Pure Barre, it really was history after that! (here is the link to that post) 

I have slacked a little over the last few months but I am determined as ever to break to 100 pounds lost mark and to get to a place where I am fully happy with the way I look. I am happy now with the progress I have made and trust me that was a big struggle emotionally for me (which I am sure will come up again in another post). 

I have lost 90 pounds and my whole perspective on life has changed. I don't wish I were someone else anymore, I don't wish I were a better version of me. I stopped wishing and started to make it happen. After all, who else is going to put in the hard work to get you where you are other than yourself?

Have you done something that has made you find yourself and realize how much potential you have? I would love to hear your personal stories of self discovery! Leave a comment below!

xoxo Jess

Friday, January 23, 2015

My first Disney World experience

At the beginning of January my best friend and I decided to take a trip to the magical world of Disney. The first thing you should know about me is that I LOVE Disney. The princesses, the movies... when I was little I would always have on a Disney shirt, or shoes, I had every Disney character in a stuffed form (yes of course they all slept in my bed), my first bike was Lion King... you get the point. For some reason my parents never took me there when I was younger and as I got older I just never really thought about it so this trip was something I was very much looking forward to.

We only spent two days in Disney parks but two days was enough to seal the deal. I was hooked and my life would never be the same. Today, I wanted to share my top 3 experiences while in Disney!

1 The characters. This was probably my favorite part honestly. Getting to meet various Disney characters and having them interact with me made my inner 6 year old squeal with glee. Growing up my favorite princess was Aurora (or Sleeping Beauty) so getting to meet her was so much fun. We also met various other characters as well. Every time we would be close to the front of the line I would get SO nervous and it made my best friend giggle because she thought I was being silly but I was so overwhelmed by everything it just made me want to pass out from excitement! Getting to interact with characters for the first time that had become a part of your life is a BIG DEAL!
Below are some pictures of us meeting various characters!



2 The shows. By this I mean the night time light and fireworks shows. They were so emotional for me. I literally cried watching Celebrate the Magic and Wishes for the first time (both times lets be honest). They were truly something to see. You can watch tons of videos of them on YouTube but nothing beats being there in person and watching Tinkerbell fly from the castle and having the music surrounding you and just being in the moment. It was truly amazing. This again made me feel like I was 6 again and I honestly could have watched it a million times over and still not have gotten sick of it. 
I took a few shots during Wishes and goodness Cinderella's castle is gorgeous! 

Celebrate the magic video (Here is a little link  to a video someone made if you want to watch the Celebrate the Magic shows that we watched while there)

We also got to see Fantasmic, which was honestly SO cool. This show followed the plot line of Mickey having a dream and showing you how your dreams can come to life. Watching it just gave me chills because of how they bring everything to life in such an amazing way. They had lights displayed on water shooting out of the ground and fire works and it was just something to experience. Seeing so many of my favorite characters in one show just added to the emotions I had (Yes okay I cried during this one too).

3 The atmosphere. This is definitely a big part of the Disney magic and the experience that you get when you are there. The people who work in the parks are all so friendly and wonderful and it makes the trip so nice when you have workers who actually look like they love their jobs. They were all so happy and would greet you with warm smiles and a cheery hello and it just added to the enjoyment. 

The parks themselves also added to the atmosphere. Everything you see such as the artistry that goes into even the smallest things makes it so magical as well. I remember we were walking through Cinderella's castle and the walls on the inside had little marble murals of the story of Cinderella and other princesses. It just made that such a memorable moment, just walking through somewhere. 

Having settings and places come to life that you have only seen in Disney movies is such an amazing thing to experience! You see things like Rapunzel's tower, Ariel's grotto, the Beast's castle... it is all just so amazing how they bring all of those magical places to life! 
These are a few pictures I took of various areas in the park. The first is when you are walking through Cinderella's castle, the second is inside the Beast's castle, and the last one is Rapunzel's tower.

There were so many things to see and do and we obviously only got to do a few of them but I will forever remember this trip because it made me fall in love with Disney even more than I already did and okay yes I watch videos of the shows almost weekly because I get a little sad that I'm not there at that moment. We spent most of our time in Magic Kingdom (because why wouldn't you) but we also ventured into Epcot and Hollywood Studios as well! 

This experience has made me only want to continue to go back again and again and create even more memories in the most magical place on earth!

If you have ever been to Disney what was one of your favorite parts? Who was your favorite character to meet? Do you have any funny stories? I would love to hear about your experiences!

xoxo Jess

Sunday, January 18, 2015

How to de-stress after a long week

Okay so lately I have been super stressed with all of the things I have been juggling in this thing we call life and I think a lot of people tend to do this around this time of year because you are trying new things because of the new year, you want to do everything that comes your way, and life just sometimes gets overwhelming.

So today I am going to go through what I do to de-stress!

First things first, I take a second to sit down and just breathe. This is such an important thing to do because as you go along doing everything you need to get done you sometimes forget to give yourself a good five minutes to sit down and just breathe. Taking time for yourself is sometimes hard because of situations and time but trust me if you are ever feeling overwhelmed the first thing to do to get yourself relaxed is to just breathe. While taking those few precious minutes also remember to count your blessings. This helps me tremendously because I then am focusing on all of the good energy and things I have going on in my life and can focus less on the bad/daunting things that are the cause of my stresses.

The next thing I do is decide where the stress is coming from. For me, when I have a lot of stuff on my plate but don't have it written down anywhere or on a to-do check list it makes me anxious because I can't see in front of me the list of what I need to accomplish. So, I will normally take a second and sort out my priorities based on a few factors such as  the amount of time I have, the effort each will take, the date on which it needs to be done by, and generally just prioritize. After this I like to look at the size of each project I have. I think it really helps me to take big projects that will take significant effort and break them up into smaller chunks. This helps to alleviate stress because when you have small bits to do at a time it makes the task seem less daunting. After that I then like to jot it all down on my to-do list and give myself a rough timeline for each thing and when I want it done by.

The third thing I do is plan in a few hours to just relax and take some time for myself. Whether this is at 10 in the morning or 5 in the afternoon I try and build in a few hours each week to refind my center and spend some time with good ole me. 

3A The next few things go along with the third thing. Once I have found time when that time arrives there are a variety of things I enjoy doing that help me de-stress so it just depends on my mood. Normally I will go for a nice hot bath with a relaxing bath bomb. This gives me time to let my body relax as well as my mind. When I get a bath I usually like to take along whatever recreational book I am reading and enjoy an hour or so of diving into someone else's world and it generally helps to calm me down. 

3B Another thing I like to do if I am not at home to take a bath is get a coffee. Whether it be in the work room or at Starbucks I like to take some time to sit down with a nice big cup of coffee and just relax that way. Normally when I am enjoying my coffee I like to also spend that time away from my phone and social media. Those things tend to remind me of everything I need to do or put me in a place where I am not relaxed and calm. I again normally like to dive into a good book or even just sit and enjoy the hustle and bustle around me in the coffee shop or wherever I might be.

Yet another thing that I like to do to help relax is do a beauty cleaning regime. This means give myself a proper pampering. This includes taking time to exfoliate my body and moisturize it properly and get into some comfy pajamas and then cleanse my face. I like to start by gently holding a warm cloth over my face for a few minutes to wake up my pores and then I usually put on a face mask first. It depends on what I might want at the time but any face mask will do! After that I like to use an undereye de-puffing solution. I have pads that you place and leave for 10 minutes and they are pretty great but again it is personal preference. After that I like to then moisturize my face and neck and apply any sort of special face creams that I don't include in my normal makeup routine. 

After I have had my time of relaxation to re-focus my mind I like to take some time to meditate on everything coming up that I need to get done and feed myself positive energy by thinking about how I am going to accomplish everything and how I have everything set up in a list so I won't forget anything and just generally gear myself up to complete the tasks at hand. 

Then of course I hit the ground running and go! 

Everyone needs time to re-center themselves when there is a lot going on and I hope this advice helps you if you are feeling overwhelmed at the moment!

Leave some comments about what you do to de-stress yourself!

xoxo Jess

Friday, January 16, 2015

2015- The best year yet

A new planner and a new fresh start to another year. This can mean so many things to many different people but to me it means a new year to set goals and dream big. I have never been one to hate January or the beginning of any new year because to me it hold so much promise of the next 364 days ahead of you. So what will you do with that time?

I will tell you a few of the goals and dreams I am planning on accomplishing this year.

The first one is the graduate with my masters degree in May. This is something I never would have dreamed I would be doing at this time in my life. If you had asked me three years ago if I was planning on going to graduate school my answer would have been no. However, I am so glad that God has led me down this path because I have learned so much about who I am and how to handle various life situations through this almost two years within this program. I have met people I never would have and have been able to feed off of their positive working energy and have been able to push myself to become more of the person I ultimately wanted to be.

The second goal I have is to audition for a Broadway show. Whether it be a traveling tour or in some other part of the world it has been a dream of mine for years to be able to say I gave my biggest dream a shot. I love to perform and sing and be on the stage so it comes as no surprise to the people who know me best. I just feel like if I don't give this a shot then I will never be able to be truly happy with myself by saying I gave it my best.

The last big goal I have for this year is to put myself first. This may seem like something easy and something that many people probably already do, but for me I never put my needs first. I always try and give everything I can to those around me whether it be friends, family, or co-workers so I know that in 2015 I will focus more on giving to myself. This includes overcoming my laziness with my weight loss goals. After losing 90 pounds you get a little complacent and I have done that over the last month with the holidays and birthdays and everything in between. I promise to myself to focus on me and become the best me I can be and that includes being happy with my physical self as well as my mental.

What are some goals you are hoping to achieve this year? What plans have you set into motion for 2015?

I believe that 2015 can and will be my best year yet and I know you can do that too!

xoxo Jess