Happiness Boost: Curate Your Social Media Feeds

Facebook. Instagram. Twitter. SnapChat. Etc. Whatever platform(s) you use on a regular basis, you probably spend more time on them than you’d like to admit (I know I do). If you’re like me, your social media feeds probably have a big impact on your mood (especially if you follow any news sites. ugh.). It’s not just the news, though. The posts from your friends and family (or even complete strangers) can put you in a bad mood, too. We’re constantly viewing everyone else’s highlight reel and wondering why our lives can’t be like that.

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” –Theodore Roosevelt

We get stuck in a cycle of comparing our real lives to everyone else’s highlight reel, and that’s a surefire way to dampen your mood and make you feel like you don’t have enough, you’re not good enough, etc. The first step to a better experience on social media is understanding that few people show their real life on there. Some show their “behind-the-scenes” so people understand that the pretty Instagram photos don’t show everything, but many don’t. So you have to take everything you see and put it in perspective.

That food blogger who always takes pictures with perfect lighting on a marble countertop may have none of that. I’ve seen the behind the scenes of a few food bloggers who use a small piece of marble and set it up next to a window with lots of natural light to get the perfect shot.

Here’s the thing. You can’t let other people’s seemingly “perfect” photos keep you from sharing what you love. Who cares if you don’t have the perfect lighting or even a slab of marble or granite? Take your food pictures under your fluorescent lighting on your laminate countertop and be proud of your creation.

If what other people are posting affects your mood, however, it’s time to curate a social media feed that brings you joy instead of feelings of “not enough”. How do you curate your social media feeds? Here’s a few tips I’ve used myself to ensure when I log in to Instagram or Facebook, what I see generally makes me happier:

  1. Unfollow, unfollow, unfollow. Give yourself permission to unfollow any social media accounts that don’t bring you joy for whatever reason. On Facebook, you can unfollow people but still remain friends (so no one gets their feelings hurt). On Instagram, there’s not an option to stay “friends” when you unfollow, but sometimes unfollowing is the best thing you can do for yourself. If you’re real-life friends, great. Stay in touch–call, email, text, grab coffee, etc. But don’t follow them on social media if doing so makes you feel less than. For the people you don’t know in real life, well, don’t feel bad about unfollowing them.
  2. Connect with others who have similar goals. If your goal is to lose weight, connect with other people who want to lose weight. If you want to run a marathon, connect with other runners. If you want to save money, maybe unfollow those bloggers who are always posting about their new bags or shoes or whatever. Find bloggers who thrift or are always on the hunt for sales instead. For me, running, mental health, and eating healthy are all really important to me. So I’m friends with/follow other runners. I’m even in a couple runners’ groups on Facebook. I follow accounts on Instagram that regularly share self-care tips and ways to boost mental health. I follow a lot of accounts that are associated with the Whole30 in one way or another. My Instagram feed includes a lot of Whole30 recipes, kitchen and grocery shopping tips/hacks, and other healthy products. I don’t follow accounts like McDonald’s or bloggers who are constantly making choices that would not be healthy for me. I follow accounts that bring me joy and bring me closer to my goals.
  3. Set limits. For those accounts you just can’t unfollow for whatever reason, set limits. I still follow several news sites because I want to be informed. But I don’t let myself get lost in a sea of bad news. Instead I’ll read one or two news stories (and skim a few other headlines/snippets) before moving on to happier things, like posts about dogs or some new recipes to try. Unfortunately, there’s no easy “hack” for this. You have to have some self-control and know your own limits. I’m learning that when it comes to social media (at least for me), less is more. I’ve also implemented a social media “curfew” for myself recently. I stop checking/mindlessly scrolling through social media at 8pm every day. I’ve been doing this for over a month now and although there have been a few exceptions where I either forgot or lost track of time, I’ve stuck with it. Even better, it has helped. Quitting social media altogether or taking a hiatus (however long) just wasn’t realistic for me. But logging off by 8pm every night has been relatively easy. Plus, it gives me more time to wind down before bed.

Social media seems to be a blessing and a curse for most people. We’re more connected to others than ever, but it can also lead to feelings of isolation and “not enough”. Taking control of your social media feeds by changing who you follow and how you use it just might give you a happiness boost when you log in.

If you try any or all of these tips, let me know if they help! If you have any other tips to share, I’d love to hear them!

Missing Running

Things have been a little quiet on the blog lately, mostly because my personal life has been chaotic. I’ve been struggling both mentally and physically since I had to stop running over a month ago (chiropractor’s orders). I had plans to run a 10k at the end of May and that’s just not going to happen. Maybe if I got cleared to run in the next week I could pull off a 5k, but I think the 10k is out of reach at this point. So that’s frustrating.

On top of that, I really have had zero physical activity over the past month. I went to the gym once and did the elliptical and it was awful. Way worse than the “dreadmill”. So I’m not getting much exercise, I’ve been sore from my adjustments and muscle work at the chiropractor, and I feel like I’m not making much progress with it. My shoulder still hurts and although they tried to have me do exercises last week, I was so sore afterwards that they’ll probably delay those even longer.

I know it will eventually get better and I’ll be able to do more than I could do this time last year, but the waiting is hard. Especially since running was about so much more than staying in shape for me. First and foremost, it got me out of the house at least once every day (work from home problems). But it’s also an outlet for anger, frustration, sadness, writing blocks, and so much more. So now I have all these pent-up feelings and I don’t have a way to release them.

IMG_3169.jpgThe past month or so has been hard for lots of other reasons, too. My freelance work was slow for a while, which really stresses me out (and I couldn’t run to relieve that stress!). Then, my grandpa passed away, so I had to cut back on the little bit of work I did have so I could be with my family. It was all hard and exhausting, but the amount of people who came to the visitation and/or funeral was incredible and I’m so grateful to everyone who stood in line for almost an hour or more just to say hi and chat for a minute.

In spite of all the sadness and stress and exhaustion, good things are in the works. My freelance work is picking back up and I’ve got some promising full-time opportunities on the horizon as well. It’s been hard to stay positive lately, but I’m trying.

For now, I’m going to keep working hard, and maybe try to write a blog post more than once a month! I’ve got some other posts I’m working on so be on the lookout for those!

I Finished the January Whole30 But…

I’m not stopping at 30 days!

FFC47689-CEF1-4C6C-8E10-193496F631AC-19105-0000117502365E44.jpgAs of today, I’m on day 32, and I’m going to keep going for a while. The past 30 days have been pretty great (I’ll get to my non-scale victories shortly), but it’s just not enough this time. My primary motivation for this round was to see how it would affect my shoulder. And while it has eliminated that 24/7 chronic pain I was dealing with, I think it could be better.

So I’m going to keep on keepin’ on for another 10-15 days at least to see just how much better my shoulder can feel. I also didn’t see as much improvement in my sleep and energy as I’d hoped I would (I mostly blame this on stress), so I’d like to see if those get any better as well.

IMG_2863.jpgMy experience wasn’t all negative, though! Before I get to all my amazing NSVs, I want to talk about the two books that were total game changers for this round of my Whole30. First, The Whole30 Day by Day is the journal I wanted to keep during my first several rounds but was too lazy to do so. I was able to keep track of how I was doing and feeling, the NSVs I was seeing, and it offered tips and tricks to help get me through those “kill all the things” days.

For those 30 days, I read and journaled in that book every morning and night. It became a familiar ritual (which I’m now replacing with journaling and meditation) that gave me some perspective on the day ahead and allowed me to reflect on what I learned. I’m not saying I couldn’t do another round without this book, but man, it would be hard.

IMG_2858.jpgThe second book that made a huge difference for this round was The Whole30 Fast & Easy cookbook. This book was full of new and exciting recipes to try, most of which involved few ingredients and minimal prep/cook time. I tried a bunch of them and they were all delicious (although many did not turn out nearly as pretty as the photos in the book!). I even got creative when I realized I was missing a few ingredients and/or bought the wrong things. Improvisation is not something I would have been comfortable with prior to this round.

And with that non-scale victory, let’s get into the list: IMG_2942.jpg

  • Tried one or more new recipes per week
  • Got really good at meal prepping
  • Relied on my allergy medicine less (I was taking one every night, now I’m taking it as-needed)
  • No more belly bloat
  • Fit back into my favorite pair of jeans
  • Tried beets again (still don’t like them, but I gave them another shot)
  • Clear skin
  • Lightened under-eye circles
  • Tried new Lacroix flavors and discovered I love the grapefruit one
  • Ran almost 55 miles over the month and started training for a 10k (more on that in a separate post to follow)
  • I met my goal of exercising every day during my Whole30
  • Created healthy rituals and routines that aren’t focused around food, like journaling each morning and reading before bed each night
  • Gained more confidence in my appearance and my abilities
  • Had the energy and courage to tackle hard things
  • Stopped waking up every morning with a headache
  • Fewer stomach aches
  • No more brain fog

I didn’t weight myself before starting and I didn’t take any “before” photos. The weight wasn’t that important to me—I just wanted my clothes to fit better, and they do! There are probably more that I’m forgetting, but that’s a pretty impressive list of NSVs if I do say so myself. Hopefully in another week or two I can say my shoulder is almost pain free and I’m sleeping better. Time will tell!

In the meantime, I’m reading Food Freedom Forever, which I started about half-way through my Whole30. It’s another game changer and I highly recommend it!

Did you do the January Whole30? How did it go? If you haven’t done a Whole30, but you’re curious, let me know how I can help!

*Please note this post contains affiliate links.

Happier, Healthier, & More Successful In 2018

My plan for a happier, healthier, & more successful 2018.

The past couple years I’ve made a list of goals I wanted to achieve in the new year. Although I made progress on those goals, I rarely achieved them. This year, I want to try something different.

You may have heard a lot of people choose a word for the year, rather than making a list of resolutions. I’ve wanted to do that the last 2 years, but couldn’t decide on just one word, so I went with the long and overwhelming list instead.

For 2018, I have a word. It started out as adventure. But a few weeks after I had settled on that word, I couldn’t remember exactly why I picked that word. As December wore on, I realized what I really want in 2018 is health, happiness, and success.

Of course, that’s 3 words, so I needed to narrow it down, or come up with a word that embodies all of them. Essentially, I want to be my best self in 2018. I want to flourish. (Which means to grow, prosper, thrive, succeed.)

So that’s my word for 2018: FLOURISH

Ironically, I’m still making a list of how I plan to succeed, er, flourish, in the new year. But the list is much more fluid and flexible than goals would be. And there’s a lot more focus on self-love and self-care, because I know I need to take care of myself to be my best self.

I won’t make a long list like I have in the past, but here’s a few things I want to incorporate into my daily routine so I can flourish in 2018:

  • Eat nutritious foods. I really got careless with what I was putting in my body by the end of 2017, and I have paid for it with unhappy skin and upset stomach. I’m starting 2018 by doing the January Whole30 (which you can find more information about in a separate post here). After that round of Whole30, I hope to carry Whole30/paleo eating throughout most of the year.
  • Continue my run streak. I forgot how happy running makes me. And maintaining my run streak makes me feel accomplished and strong. Essentially, it makes me healthy and happy. I also want to run a 10k and a half marathon in 2018!
  • Keep journaling. In 2017, I started a new morning routine. After I let the dogs out and feed them breakfast, I sit on the couch and journal for about a half hour. I start off by writing down one thing I need to let go of (a grudge, anger, resentment, etc.), one thing I’m grateful for, and then 3 things I need to focus on that day. Then I simply journal about whatever’s on my mind. Some days I vent about something that pissed me off. Other days I come up with plans to achieve a goal. Some days I have more to write than others. I really enjoy starting my day this way, so I want to keep it up.
  • Start reading everyday. A former boss once asked me why I don’t read books that would be good for professional development. The honest answer is I should, but I also know that you can get a lot of benefits from reading fiction, too. While I do need to make professional development more of a priority this year, what I really want is to start reading for the sheer pleasure of it again. I’m trying to start reading at least a chapter in whatever book I’m currently reading each night before bed.
  • Meditate everyday. I’ve meditated on and off for a year or two now, but I’ve really struggled to make it a consistent habit. So for 2018, I want to start small. Just a few minutes a day, morning or night (or maybe in the middle of the day to take a break from work) to clear my mind.

There’s a few other things I’ll probably add to this eventually. But I think those are the essentials I need to flourish this year. I just want to focus on doing things that will make me happy, healthy, and successful.

Really, that simply means I need to do more to take care of myself this year. In 2018, I’m going to flourish. What will you do this year? Are you picking a word or theme for the year? Or did you make a list of goals or resolutions?

Happy New Year! I’m Doing the January Whole30…

Find out why I’m doing the January Whole30 and what all the excitement is about!

Except I’m starting on tomorrow instead of today. My reason? It’s my husband’s birthday, and every year we go to his favorite bar and have yummy food, cold beer, and then head over to the casino.

So although I’m eager to start my January Whole30, I love this tradition and so does he. We’re going to enjoy it and savor every french fry and every sip of beer. Then tomorrow I’ll do all my meal prepping so we’ve got healthy, delicious, Whole30-compliant food for the rest of the week.

january whole30If you’ve been following along for a while, you know this isn’t my first Whole30. Heck, it’s not even my third or fourth. It’s more like my eighth (although I’ve lost count). So why am I doing another round of Whole30?

Well, a lot of my healthy habits got derailed last year. Between my shoulder injury and a few bouts of depression, I lacked the energy and motivation I needed to cook nutritious meals for myself.

By the end of the year, it was painfully obvious I wasn’t giving my body the fuel it needed. My skin was dry and cracked, and I kept getting pimples because I was eating too much dairy. My clothes were fitting tight and I felt bloated constantly despite the fact that I’ve been running a mile or more every day since August.

In general, I just had low energy levels, again, despite exercising every day. So it’s well past time for a reset. Plus, I got The Whole30 Fast & Easy Cookbook and The Whole30 Day by Day, which I am so excited to use during my January Whole30.

The cookbook has tons of quick meals ranging from slow cooker to one-pot/pan/skillet meals, and I’m excited to give those a try. I think they’ll be perfect for a January Whole30 since it will be a busy month for me. Plus, those quick meals will ease me back into cooking regularly without making it a long, drawn-out ordeal every night.

I’m particularly excited to use the Day by Day book, though. It’s part journal, part timeline, part coaching and cheering from Whole30 headmistress herself, Melissa Hartwig. It will make tracking what I eat and how it makes me feel (especially during reintroduction) so much easier. It will also make it easier to pinpoint and track any non-scale victories I experience, like more energy and better sleep.

After I finish my Whole30, I also intend to read Food Freedom Forever, which I finally got as an ebook, but still haven’t read yet! I figure post-January Whole30 will be the perfect time to read it and make a plan for my own food freedom in 2018.

I am so excited to start my year off with the Whole30. It’s definitely going to help with my goal of being healthier and happier this year.

Have you ever done a Whole30? Are you planning to do one this year? Why or why not? Is there something holding you back?

*Please note the links to the Whole30 books are affiliate links.

 

2017 Reflections

2017 didn’t exactly go as planned…find out how I did on my goals for this year.

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas! Now that the holiday stress is behind me, I can focus on reflecting on the past year and preparing for the next.

To say this year did not go as planned would be a gross understatement. I didn’t achieve many of my goals. I went from freelancer to full-time copywriter, and back to freelancer. I started running again and did it for 100+ days in a row. I gave up yoga (for now). I’ve struggled with physical pain and depression off and on for much of the year. I had great intentions on getting healthy but ended up eating a lot of pizza and drinking too much beer.

I set 12 goals for myself for 2017. Here’s how I did with each:

  1. Strength Training: This goal was at the top of my list. January was off to a good start, but after I hurt my shoulder, I eventually gave it up altogether. I am attempting to slowly rehab my shoulder, so maybe I’ll make some gains in the strength department in 2018.
  2. Yoga: Similarly, I had lofty goals of making yoga part of my daily routine. That didn’t last long after I injured my shoulder. I’m hoping once it heals, I can work yoga back in, as it will be great cross-training for my running.
  3. Travel: I did pretty well with this one. I went on my first vacation alone to visit my best friend in Savannah in October. We also went to Kansas City a couple times, twice to Carmel, IN, and way back in April we went to Pensacola. We’ve got some big travel plans for next year, too! So I’d say this one was a total success!
  4. Write: As a professional writer, I don’t do nearly enough writing for myself. Finally, I made journaling part of my morning routine. It’s not the next great poem or novel or anything. It’s mostly just to clear my head. But it helps. I also added two publications to my portfolio this month! The first was an article I wrote about the benefits of massage, which you can read here (and my husband adorably framed it for me and hung it in my office as part of my Christmas gift). The second was a feature I did about a line-dancing teacher in Cape who’s keeping seniors active, which you can read here.
  5. Read: I set a goal to read just one book a month and I totally and utterly failed. There’s always next year, though. I’m trying to incorporate reading at least a chapter before bed each night, so hopefully by starting now, it will be easier to continue with next year.
  6. Business Plan: I wanted to create a business plan this year, but this is basically impossible when you have no idea what you really want to do. Maybe next year.
  7. Volunteer: I don’t think I volunteered at all this year. I do, however, have some volunteering opportunities already lined up for next year, so that’s something.
  8. Sustainability: With this one,  I’ve made progress, then I back-tracked. Then I make progress again. I think this will always just be a work in progress.
  9. Minimalism: This one was harder than I thought it would be. And it’s nearly impossible to accomplish when you and your husband are not on the same page.
  10. Marriage: I really wanted to focus on investing more time in our marriage and really focus on us, but that’s really hard since my husband travels a lot for work. I think, fortunately, all marriages are a constant work in progress,  so we aren’t necessarily failing.
  11. Social Media: I wanted to spend less time on social media and I have done miserably awful with this goal. I just can’t seem to do it. Any time I’m bored, I start scrolling through Facebook (which is also pretty boring, to be honest). I need to come up with a solution that will get me to put down my phone and do a meaningful activity instead when I’m “bored” (or have writer’s block).
  12. Outside: I wanted to simply spend more time outside this year. And while I didn’t do so hot with this one for the first half of the year, my running streak certainly made up for it! Thanks to my streak, I’ve spent a minimum of 10 to 15 minutes outside every day for 100+ days. Not a terribly long time, but it’s a start.

Stay tuned for my post about my goals for 2018!

What were your goals for 2017?  Which ones did you achieve? Are there any you’re carrying over into the new year? Or are you giving up on some altogether?

100 Days of Running

Reflections on 100 days of running.

My run streak reached 100 days last Wednesday (and is still going strong—day 108 today)! If you had told me 100+ days ago that I’d run 100 days in a row, I’m not sure I would have believed you.

I’ve accomplished so much over the past 100 days. I’ve run two 5ks (and PR’d in the second!). My pace has improved. I’ve pushed my limits on speed and distance. I’ve learned when it’s time to take it easy.

Most importantly, I’ve learned my body is capable of far more than I give it credit for. This run streak started because of my shoulder injury, which was keeping me from doing yoga and lifting weights. In fact, I had stopped exercising regularly altogether after my shoulder injury.

My run streak added much-needed regular exercise back into my life. It reminded me to be grateful for what I am capable of rather than dwelling on all the things I can’t do.

IMG_2596.jpg
The face of someone who spent the last 100 days running!

I have no idea if I’ve lost weight. (My clothes aren’t fitting much looser, so probably not.) But the weight loss (or lack of) doesn’t matter. I feel better. My mind is clearer. My body hurts the way it should after exercise.

Running every day has made me want to improve other aspects of my life, too. I’m trying to make my way back to eating mostly paleo (and I’m planning to do the January Whole30!). I’m trying to make my sleep a priority so I’m rested enough to run every day. And I’m making more time in my days for quiet reflection and journaling.

These 100 days haven’t been easy (I’ve been harassed twice now), but they’ve been 100% worth it. I don’t have any specific run streak goals. I just want to keep the streak alive for as long as possible. I do have plans to run a 10k and half marathon in 2018, though. Stay tuned for my posts reflecting on 2017 and all my goals for 2018!

Have you ever tried a running streak? (Or any other type of streak?) How did it go and how long did it last? Let me know in the comments!