Hiking Essentials

As many of you are aware, I enjoy living a healthy life. My fitness journey has not been perfect and I have gotten pretty far off track, but I have been doing a lot better lately. I know that exercising is not often described as fun, but I believe that there is something out there for everyone, whether that’s dancing, boxing, weight lifting, or running. I quickly fell in love with weight lifting as well as hiking, and after doing this combination for quite some time now, I have learned quite a bit about what to wear and what to bring for both occasions. Today I am sharing some of my hiking essentials (some of these may not be seen as a necessity to some of you. These are just some things I like to have with me. I like  to be prepared for anything). Hopefully, if you’re hiking with a friend, they can carry a few of these items as well. These are some items that I believe everyone should carry in their hiking bags.

  • Hand Sanitizer

Some people may not feel that this is necessary, but I definitely do! You never know what you may end up touching, and the bathrooms at public parks are not always incredibly clean. If you are anything like me, I suggest keeping a small hand sanitizer in your bag.

  • WATER

Never ever forget to bring water on your hikes! It doesn’t matter if it is cold or hot out; I always bring a couple water bottles with me. Not only should you be drinking 8 cups (or more) of water a day, but you should especially drink water when exercising; this includes hiking.

  • Snacks

Unless you plan on camping overnight or having a picnic, you do not need to bring a ton of food. A few simple snacks such as nuts, granola bars, or fruit should suffice. I always bring a couple snacks just in case. The hikes that I go on are not always very strenuous or too long, so it is not always an essential but you never know what may happen! Also, if you’re bringing a furry friend on your hike, make sure to have some food and water for them!

  • A portable charger

If you are going hiking, especially on a longer hike, I recommend taking a portable charger. I never really use my phone on hikes unless I am taking photos, but if your phone were to die, or if you were to get lost, it is important to have a charged phone. I like to let other family members know where I am just in case, but you should make sure to start your hikes with a fully charged phone and a portable charger.

  • Headphones

As I mentioned, I really do not use my phone when I am hiking, but if you do, and if you’re alone, you can always bring headphones to hear some of your favorite music to get you through those difficult hikes.

  • Hair ties

I always like to have my hair up and out of my face when exercising, whether that’s in the gym or on a mountain. You will rarely see me without a hair tie on my wrist! I always bring one with me anywhere I go in case mine breaks or it gets lost somewhere!

  • First aid

When you’re out hiking, there is always a chance of injury. Even if you just got a cut on your leg or finger, you should make sure to take care of it quickly in order to avoid infections and for it to heal sooner. I would recommend at least carrying a few band aids with you. It is better to be prepared, plus, band aids won’t take up any space and they won’t weigh you down.

  • Personal hygiene products

I really do not bring many personal hygiene products with me when hiking, but if you are the type of person to sweat a lot, bringing a small deodorant may be useful to you. Also, for all my ladies out there, bringing a couple feminine hygiene products with you is always a smart move.

  • Sunscreen

I think we often forget just how important it is to wear sunscreen daily, I know I do! To be completely honest, I really only wear sunscreen when I am going to be outside for a long period of time in the summer. I am trying to wear it more often all year round, but even moreso when it is sunny out. When I am hiking, I could be outdoors for anything from an hour and a half to three hours, and I want to protect my skin as much as I can. You do not need to carry this in your bag, but you should make sure to put some on before you leave the house!

Thank you so much for reading! Leave me a comment below and tell me what your hiking essentials are!

My 2020 Goals and Resolutions

Happy New Year everyone! 2020 is already looking good, and I am so excited to share some new content with you all! Now, I know that people tend to laugh at the idea of “New Year’s resolutions” because sadly, a lot of the time people do not stick to them.  Well, I have always been very determined to reach my goals, and I am very easily motivated, so I am going to do my best.

First, I plan on continuing my once a month hikes but I want to do things just a little different this year. If you read my “2019 Year in Review” post, you would know that my uncle and I went hiking once a month for twelve months in 2019. This is something I plan on continuing, however I want to make it a bit more challenging. I am hoping to incorporate a few more intense hikes throughout the year. Last year, our hikes were not always incredibly challenging, but we did find new places every time we wanted to hike! If we are unable to find new places to do these intense hikes, that’s ok, as long as we get one hike in every month!

This next one may seem so simple, but it will be a bit of a challenge for me personally. I want to try to get more organized; this includes things such as my room and school work. I love to plan out my days and I like having a set schedule. I’ve already written down a schedule for this coming semester of college, and although I am going to have a lot on my plate, I think that I will be able to handle it. Making time for the things I need to get done is important, but I also want to make time to do things that I enjoy such as writing, relaxing, and going to the gym. When it comes to my room, I tend to get a bit lazy when it is time to clean. I am going to try to keep my clothes in order, and if I do not use or wear something, I want to give it away. I think many of you will be able to relate when I say that putting away clean clothes is NOT fun. I’ll usually leave it next to my closet until it piles up. I am going to make sure to keep my room neat because it makes me feel much happier when everything is where it should be. Plus, it’s aesthetically pleasing to walk into a clean room every day.

As many of you know, I am a total gym rat and I have been weight training for almost 4 years! I love everything about weight lifting and living a healthy life has made me incredibly happy and confident. In 2019, I did struggle with a loss of motivation when it came to the gym and with healthy eating, so this year things are going to change big time. I am still in college and managing my time has always been difficult for me, so I am going to come up with a schedule for myself that includes my college classes, the gym, work, and spending time with family, friends, and myself. I plan to try to get to the gym at least 3 times a week, but I will work out for a total of 5 (meaning that I will do 2 at-home workouts a week plus the 3 days in the gym). As for food, I am creating a list of healthy foods that I enjoy and I will try to incorporate them into my daily meals. This includes a lot of fruits, vegetables, protein, and water!

Toward the end of 2019, I woke up every morning and I would compliment myself and tell myself that it was going to be a great day. Doing this absolutely changed my mood and set good intentions for the day ahead. It made me feel happy and a bit more confident as well. I am going to continue doing this daily, because you get to choose how your days go. Yes, we all have bad days, but you can always start over the next day, and you can start it on a more positive note. I also noticed that I sometimes talk down about myself and lately when I notice myself doing this, I stop talking. Starting now, if I want to say something I don’t like about myself, I won’t say it. We all have flaws, but it is so important to accept them and love ourselves anyway. I have talked about the power of your mind on my blog before, and it is something that I truly believe in. Your mind is a very powerful thing. Feed it love and good thoughts, and it can change your life. Ever since I made the decision to be happy and to love myself, things started to change in the most amazing way.

I’ve always enjoyed staying in my comfort zone. The problem with this is that you won’t ever grow by staying comfortable. I am going to share some very exciting news with you all soon and it is about an opportunity that I said yes to. I am nervous about it because it is a big step for me, but I am proud of the decision I’ve made and I am so excited for the opportunity! In 2020, I am going to try to step out of my comfort zone a bit and do things that scare me (only if they are going to help me grow).

Lastly, in 2020, I am going to continue writing as much as I can because the only way to get better at something is to actually do it. Writing has been a passion of mine since I was a little girl. Little did I know then that it would turn into my dream. I love being able to write about my passions and share it with the world. I want to be able to write and help others, so I am going to continue doing that this year and for all of the years ahead.

I am very focused on my own personal growth right now, and I am going to continue to love myself unconditionally, and I am going to do my best to gain as much confidence in myself as I can. Thank you again for coming on this journey with me. You don’t know what it means to me. I’ve said it before, and I will always say it: the purpose of my blog is to share my passions, to inspire others, and to help me as well as my readers  gain confidence in ourselves. So, if you’re new here, welcome to Compass to Confidence! 2020 is here and I want to continue to show myself and the world around me nothing but love. Leave me a comment below telling me some of your New Year’s resolutions!

Indulging Over The Holidays

Today I wanted to share an important message with you all. I think that this is something people should hear more often, especially around the holidays. Living a healthy life is not always easy. Luckily for me, I enjoy working out most of the time, so this is not much of a problem for me. What has been difficult however, is healthy eating. I made the decision to start eating healthier in January of 2018, and while I would say that I have done pretty well and stuck to that decision, I have definitely gotten off track this year, and I have mentioned it on my blog before. I have never struggled with any kind of eating disorder and for the most part I would say that my relationship with food is pretty healthy, however it is not perfect.

Even when I first started to change my diet and eat healthier, I always allowed myself to indulge once in a while. I would eat mostly healthy during the week and then on the weekends I would allow myself to go out and enjoy lunch with my family and when I got home I would try to snack on healthier foods for the rest of the day. This is a plan that I decided to stick with and I am still trying to go by it today (I found that this is what works for me, but it may not work for you, so find what works for you and stick to it)! Even though I feel that I got off track with food and even the gym at times this year, I deserve to enjoy the holidays, and so do you.

Whether you have been working extremely hard in the gym and the kitchen this year, or you got off track like me, it is 100% OK to let yourself enjoy those holiday treats. Obviously, you should still try to eat healthy and workout during this time of year, but having some Christmas cookies or missing a few workouts will not derail your progress. For me personally, I don’t workout on holidays and around Christmas time especially, I want to spend time with my family so this means skipping my workouts  a few times. Even if you feel like you didn’t make a ton of progress this year, you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself. This is something that I am still trying to learn, so if you are feeling the same way, you are not alone.

You do not necessarily have to avoid foods that may be described as “unhealthy” or “fattening”. Yes, you should remember to eat these foods in moderation, but avoiding them completely is somewhat unrealistic, and you shouldn’t feel guilty for enjoying them from time to time. If you are trying to eat healthier, remember that changing your diet is a process and it is one that takes time, so allow yourself that time.  

This isn’t just a message that I am sharing with athletes, this is for EVERYONE: let yourself indulge every once in a while. If you know that you are going to want to enjoy the sweet and delicious foods around this time of year, leading up to the celebrations, just do your best to eat healthy and when the time comes, enjoy yourself. I personally feel that the food is one of the things that makes the holidays complete. Don’t feel guilty for wanting to eat what you want to eat. Living a healthy life is important and I am working hard to get back on track, but trust me when I say that this holiday season I am going to enjoy all of the hot chocolate and cookies with no shame because I deserve it, and so do you!

I hope that this message sticks with you today and every day, and I hope you are all having a great December! Christmas is coming so quickly and although I am excited, I also don’t want it to end! I have some exciting blog posts coming up before the New Year, so stay tuned for those! Thank you so much for reading… now I am going to go find some chocolate!

Workout Essentials: What’s in My Gym Bag

Hey everyone! I am so excited to share this post with you today! If you are an avid gym goer like myself, you may or may not be aware that there are certain things that you can add to your workouts that will help you reach your goals, big or small. These items can also help you feel more comfortable in the gym. Today I am going to share what is in my gym bag, and why each of these items are essential for me to have!

  • Headphones

This one is pretty obvious, but there have been times where I have forgotten my headphones at home, and it was AWFUL. (If you are an iphone user like me, and you are using headphones that aren’t from Apple, make sure to bring the headphone jack with you!) Even though the gym is always playing music, I prefer to have my own playlist going while I work out!

  • Cell phone armband

While I am working out, I do not want to have to worry about where to put my phone. I always keep an armband in my gym bag so that I can place it on my arm, and if I need to change a song or text someone back, I can still use my phone while wearing the armband.

  • Resistance bands

If you are weight training, resistance bands are game changers (particularly for lower body days)! Resistance bands are used to add resistance to your exercises. Your muscles will work against the resistance, which in turn makes exercises more challenging, but more effective as well. Using these will also help target your glutes, so I use resistance bands during glute activation and for various exercises on lower body days such as hip thrusts, squats, and fire hydrants. If these sound like they would be useful to you, I highly recommend looking into buying them. They can get expensive, but I would not recommend buying the ones made of rubber latex, because they can roll/slip, and I have had one break on me before. Try buying ones that are labeled “non-slip” and made of a stronger material. Make sure to buy a pack that includes bands at different levels (light-heavy).

  • Velcro ankle straps

The cable machines add constant tension to your exercises and they help you control your movements. Ankle straps can be very helpful for cable machine exercises such as glute kickbacks, lunges, hip abductors, and hamstring curls. I do not use these every lower body day, but trust me when I say that you will FEEL it in your muscles when you use the cable machine!

  • Personal hygiene items such as:
    • Deodorant/perfume
    • Lotion or hand sanitizer
    • Razor
    • Hair ties
    • Feminine products

It is so very important to make sure that you are heading to the gym with personal hygiene products. Before I go to the gym, I always put deodorant on, and I spritz on a tiny bit of perfume/body spray. I like to keep a mini deodorant in my gym bag just in case I ever forget to put some on, or if I need to reapply while at the gym (if you are the kind of person who sweats a lot, using a bit of baby powder on your armpits can keep you dry longer)! You DON’T want to be the person who smells like body odor, but you also don’t want to be the person who reeks of cologne (we all know these people). A little can go a long way, but just remember to be aware of and take care of your personal hygiene.

I keep lotion and a razor in my bag just in case. My legs tend to get very dry, so if I am wearing shorts or cropped leggings, I like to put on a bit of lotion. I also wash my hands after every workout since I am constantly touching dumbbells or machines that other people have touched. If you want to carry hand sanitizer instead, you can definitely do that!

There have been times when I have walked through the doors of the gym and I realized that I didn’t have a hair tie on me. I had to ask at the front desk if they had hair ties, but all they could offer was rubber bands (if you have ever put a rubber band in your hair, you know it is not fun to take out).

Don’t ever forget feminine products. I always have something on me just in case.

  • Water

I always try to drink 8 cups of water a day. It is extremely important to drink water, especially during a workout. I always bring 2 bottles to the gym with me (I usually drink at least one of them during my actual workout). In total, I drink 4 water bottles a day.

  • A quick post-workout snack

If you aren’t going to eat a full meal after a workout, you should still try to eat something. Eating after a workout is very important, so try to get something in your stomach and eat a full meal as soon as you can. If you are going to grab a snack, make sure it is healthy and that there is a decent amount of protein in it.

  • Towel

I always bring a clean hand towel to the gym with me because you never know who was using the bench or machine before you. You should always make sure to clean the equipment after you use it, and if you feel the need to, you can clean it beforehand as well. I place a towel wherever I am going to lay my head down, and I make sure that the side that is facing the equipment does not ever touch my face or my head.

  • Lifting gloves

If you don’t want calluses or rough hands from lifting, you could always wear gloves. I used to wear them when I first started working out, but I don’t really care to wear them anymore. The lifting gloves can also help with your grip. If you are a beginner, or you just want to try them out, I recommend it.

  • Barbell pad

I actually do not have a barbell pad at the moment. My gym does have a few, but I would prefer to use my own. Barbell pads are great for protecting your neck and shoulders when doing any exercise where a long bar or barbell is going to be over your shoulders. They can also help when doing hip thrusts and they can make performing exercises much more comfortable. I am asking for one for Christmas so hopefully I will have my own soon!

Thank you so much for reading! Leave me a comment and let me know what your gym bag essentials are! If you feel that I missed something and want to recommend it to me, I would love to know in a comment below!

Fitness Update: October 2019

Today I wanted to share a fitness update with you! I plan on sharing these every once in a while just to give you a bit of insight on where I currently am on my fitness journey and to keep myself on track!

I hate to say it, but this year I let myself lose my motivation and I have seriously been struggling to get it back. I won’t blame it all on school and being tired, but those have been a small part of why I haven’t been feeling my best when it comes to fitness and health. In 2018, I was in the gym four times a week, doing new exercises and feeling great about all of it. I worked really hard, but then all of a sudden after months of hard work, I started to crash. It was around September-October last year when I started to fall into a fitness rut. To go from lifting four times a week (and working out for a total of six) to not wanting to do it anymore was devastating and confusing. This has happened to me before as well. After my two year anniversary of weight training I noticed that I was losing my motivation a bit so I changed my workouts and started to eat healthier, leading to amazing progress in 2018.

I thought that I could do what I did in the past and it would work again. If I changed my workouts and focused, I’d get back into it. Well, that didn’t really happen. I think that there have been multiple factors that have led me to this point this year. School and school work have always been one of my top priorities, so this sometimes takes precedence over the gym. During the school year, I do not always get enough sleep (depending on my schedule) so there are days when I just do not feel like I can get through a workout. I also share a car with a couple of my siblings, so a car is not always available for me to take. I won’t make excuses though. I need to make the choice to get my workouts in. I need to change my attitude again. I hate that I let myself fall for so long because it just got easier to make excuses as to why I couldn’t get to the gym. I can’t believe that I’ve been feeling this way for about a year now.

Even though I haven’t been feeling up to it for quite a while now, there were days when I would tell myself “you’re going to kill this workout”, and I would. I had great days. Great weeks even. But none of it seemed to last. I feel like I wasn’t making much progress this past year. I would say that during the school year, I was getting to the gym 2-3 times a week, if that. I would try to workout at home at times but it’s a bit harder to get through it when you’re not at the gym. Eating healthier was also starting to feel more difficult. Although I’ve stuck with it pretty well, I seemed to be more tempted to eat too many sweets and I would let myself eat some things that aren’t too good for me.

I think it is important to be honest and to be real with people because although I love weight training, there are still times when I don’t feel like doing it. There are still times where I make excuses and lose my motivation. After looking back at this past year, I want to do better. I want to be excited to be back in the gym again. My health is important to me, and I am happy to say that I feel like my motivation is coming back. I don’t really know what brought it on, but I have been enjoying my workouts a bit more lately. I am starting to make new goals for myself, and I am going to try to change things up a bit. I am not too sure where to start, but I think that maybe I should start with my attitude. Right now, my goals are to get stronger, eat healthier than I ever have before, and get to the gym whenever I can because there IS always time, even with my schedule. I’ve talked about it in a blog post before, and I will likely say it again and again, but your attitude affects everything. I am always trying to better myself, and I don’t want to get so far off track again. I can’t take it back, so instead of focusing on my failures, I am just going to move forward and do better. I am proud to say that my 4 year anniversary of weight training is coming up in the next few months and I can’t wait! If my 16 year old self could see me today (even with the setbacks), I know she’d be proud. Even though I got a bit off track, it didn’t take away all of the progress that I’ve made for the past 4 years. A couple things that have been helping me get back into it are my dad, because he is the one who got me into this healthy lifestyle, my attitude, making the right choices, making new goals, changing things up, and showing up, even when I don’t want to.

Thank you so much for reading. Sharing personal things like this always makes me a bit anxious, but I know there are people out there who can relate. I want to tell you that no matter what setbacks you go through, know that you can always push past it. You WILL get through it. Living a healthy life is not always easy, and you are going to have difficult moments, just don’t stay stuck. Find new ways to feel excited about working out and eating healthy again. Try something new, and don’t give up. Remember that you started for a reason, and as you continue on your fitness journey, you’re going to look back and be so proud of what you’ve accomplished. I know I am.

(If you want to know more about my fitness journey, check out the “Fitness and Self-Care” section of my website, and read the blog post titled “My Fitness Journey”.)

The Importance of Nutrition + My Experience with Healthy Eating

Disclaimer: Please keep in mind that I am not a dietician, nutritionist, or qualified in any way to discuss nutrition, however I wanted to share my journey with food because it is a big part of my love for fitness and health. This is just MY experience so far, and I do not believe that anyone should copy it exactly. Take my story with a grain of salt, and if you do decide to make changes to your diet, start slowly and talk to your doctor. Take care of yourself!

You know that saying, “You are what you eat”? Well, I didn’t realize just how true it was until I started to change my diet. When my two year anniversary of weight training came around, I felt so strongly about trying something new. I was doing the same exact exercises every week, and I continued to eat whatever I wanted, and although I saw results in my first two years in the gym, it got to a point where I felt like my body started to plateau. I felt like I needed something to boost my motivation again. So, in January of 2018, I decided it was time for a change. I slowly started to change my diet (SLOWLY being the key word here).

I never really had any body image issues, but I wouldn’t say that I completely loved my body. I think that everyone goes through periods where we don’t necessarily like our bodies, and that’s ok, but we should work toward loving them daily. I’ve never had any eating disorders but if I am being honest, when I changed my diet, I realized just how dangerous diet culture can be. (I didn’t make any drastic changes, and I didn’t do anything unhealthy or anything that could hurt me in any way. But I could definitely see how people could get to that point when it comes to food.) When you’re trying to reach a certain goal when it comes to food and eating right, you CAN NOT be hard on yourself. I am always hard on myself, but I am learning to relax a little and just do the best that I can (in all aspects of life). I also wanted to mention that you do not need to focus on a number on the scale. As long as you know you are healthy and doing your best, THAT IS ALL THAT MATTERS. If weighing yourself gives you anxiety or it makes you feel insecure, don’t do it unless your doctor asks you to, and if you are concerned about your health, speak to them.

When I first changed my diet, I would say that my goals were to eat less sugar, to eat to build muscle (this meant eating a bit more than I was before), to cut out processed foods, and to incorporate more fruits, vegetables, and protein in my diet. Before I made any changes, my diet was not terrible, but definitely not very healthy. In the mornings before school I would eat cereal or toast with butter, for lunch I’d have a turkey sandwich with chips and a chocolate covered granola bar or cookies, and for dinner I would usually eat some kind of meat like chicken or beef, and a side like mashed potatoes or rice. I definitely snacked between these meals as well. I absolutely LOVED ramen noodles and those frozen pizzas which are processed foods. In the beginning, I was so determined to turn things around, and I did. I didn’t reach my goals right away, and honestly I haven’t completely reached a couple of these goals; there are still a couple processed foods that I eat. Did I mention I have a MASSIVE sweet tooth? This is going to sound absolutely ridiculous, but I am so addicted to chocolate that I truly feel like I need a little bit EVERY DAY or I’ll go insane. Ice cream is also a problem for me. It is very hard for me to avoid sugary and sweet temptations, but I try. What I have done that seems to help me is I will take a few pieces of chocolate rather than eating an entire bar. I don’t always have to eat the entire chocolate bar in one day (but there are still times when I do). Some of the foods that are always on our grocery list now that I’ve changed my diet are broccoli, carrots, salmon, chicken breast, oatmeal, and quinoa to name a few. My meals are almost the exact same everyday now, particularly my breakfast, lunch, and snacks. Dinner is usually different depending on what my family makes and if I like it. One of the biggest differences I noticed when I changed my diet is that I was feeling SO much better. I feel like I have so much more energy when I am eating right, and it makes me feel a bit more confident knowing that I am taking care of my body even more now than I used to.

Even now, I am still learning to love my body for exactly what it is today. Not for what it will be in a few months or a few years. It isn’t easy but we need to try to love our bodies. Think about what our bodies do for us every day. It is truly incredible. Your body is working so hard to keep you alive, so you should love and appreciate it. So many older people tell me that I’ll look back at my body when I was 20 and wish I looked like that again. Realistically throughout life, our bodies are going to change. When I am 40, I won’t necessarily look the way I did when I was 20, but that is ok. I want to learn to love my body at any stage in my life, and as I get older, I think I will be better at eating healthier. As a full time college student, it isn’t always easy to eat healthy. I don’t have much money, but I do still live at home, which helps! Lately I’ve been lacking motivation and I haven’t been feeling as great, so for now I am trying to focus on getting back on track with my gym schedule and with food!

Some quick tips to start eating healthier:

  • I’ll say it again, start SLOW. You do not want to rush into changing your diet. What you eat can really affect you in both negative and positive ways. If something is going to negatively affect you and your health, such as a trendy diet, do some research and speak to your doctor.
  • Understand that cutting out something like carbs is not exactly good for you. Eating carbs is NOT going to make you gain a ton of weight. As long as you are exercising frequently and eating things such as pasta and bread in moderation, you’ll be fine! A balanced diet is important.
  • Try to snack on things such as fruits or nuts instead of chips or candy. Because of the natural sugars in fruits, this can actually satisfy that sweet craving often!
  • Don’t copy anyone else’s diet. Just because you see someone who looks very fit and healthy, that does not mean that their diet is what is going to make you healthy. You need to look at your own personal goals and go from there.
  • I wouldn’t recommend following any of those “90 Day Fat Loss” challenges or anything like that. I personally feel like when you make short term goals for yourself, once you reach that 90th day, you kind of feel like you don’t have to try anymore. Make long term goals. Eat healthy because you want to live a long and healthy life, not because you want to be “skinny for summer” or “beach body ready”.
  • Give in to your cravings sometimes, and don’t be too hard on yourself.

Remember to make goals for yourself that are attainable. Try to be realistic about what you can and can’t do. Look at where you are in your life, and see if you should even be making any drastic changes. If you are an avid gym goer like me and you want to see results, they WILL come! It takes patience and hard work in the gym and in the kitchen.

I hope that you learned a little bit more about me through this post, and I hope that I was able to help you in some way! Thank you so much for reading!

The Power of Your Mind

What you tell yourself, you will start to believe. This is something that I have come to realize in recent years. When you start pointing out your flaws and bringing up every little mistake that you make, you’re constantly bringing yourself down. As I have gotten older, I have realized the importance of self-love and self-care. I may not know everything, but one thing I know for sure is that speaking negatively about yourself is absolutely going to lower your self confidence. I know this because I have done it to myself too many times to count, and if I am being honest, I still do it from time to time. While I do think that it is important to recognize our faults (because NO ONE is perfect), we have to work on telling ourselves why we are great, too. It is so much easier to point out our flaws than to recognize the things we love about ourselves, but we have to try.

Our mental health is just as important as our physical health. We see many people talking about fitness and how they take care of their bodies, which is important, but what we don’t often see is people talking about how they take care of their minds. I recently told a friend of mine that I believe we have two voices in our heads. We have a friend, and we have an enemy. The enemy is loud, rude, and self deprecating. The friend is kind, loving, and caring. You are both of these people, and you get to decide who to listen to every day. It’s sort of like when you’re watching a cartoon, and there’s an angel and a devil on the characters shoulders. I promise you, if you listen close enough, the friend is whispering to you. Block out the negative, and focus on the positive.

I wanted to share some of the ways that I have been keeping my mind a comforting and kind place to be, and working toward confidence and self-love. (I don’t do these things EVERY DAY, but I definitely should, and so should you! Some of them you could even do throughout the day.) I like to start my days off with positivity. I am a morning person, and I am often in a pretty good mood when I wake up, so I keep the positivity going by telling myself that it is going to be a great day, and that “I’ve got this!” I also like to compliment myself on whatever I am feeling good about on that particular day. It may feel a bit silly to look in the mirror and compliment yourself, but it is worth it! On days when I planned to get to the gym but I am just not feeling it, I tell myself, “you’re going to kill this workout,” and when I walk out of the gym I realize how powerful our thoughts really are. This is not always an easy thing to do though, because I am not ALWAYS in a great mood or feeling my best. Sometimes you’re running late, or you forgot your wallet at home, or you’re going through some kind of internal dilemma. Whatever it is, this can negatively affect your mood and your entire day. It is 100% OK to have bad days. Let yourself feel whatever it is that you’re feeling, but once that day is over, work on doing better tomorrow.

Recently I started school again, and I have to say that I am feeling a bit stressed and tired, and this negatively affects my mood. Obviously getting enough sleep is something that you should prioritize, but it is something I am still working on. One way I like to stay positive and happy during the stressful school year is something I decided to do recently. Every morning, my best friend and I started to tell each other the positives about our days. For example, one day my positive may be that I am wearing a new outfit that I feel great in, or it’s a sunny and gorgeous day out, or my class was canceled (no one knows the joy of getting that email like college students do). By doing this, you are stating the things are already great about your day before it really even begins. Another small thing that I wanted to mention is that sometimes in the mornings I will get out of bed and as I get ready for the day, I will play some of my current favorite songs to boost my mood. (On days when I have to wake up a little too early or I am running late, I will most likely not do this, but I have noticed that I feel much happier and more awake when I do!)

Something that I have been trying to do every morning is stretching. Stretching in the morning will wake up and calm your body and your mind. If you just take a few minutes to do this every day, it can benefit you in more ways than you think! I also love to eat right when I wake up, so making a delicious and healthy breakfast is important to me. If you are not a breakfast person, try to eat something small but still healthy and filling.

You have the power to choose how your day goes. You get to decide what you say and sometimes how you feel. You don’t always have control over the things that happen to you, but choosing how you react to it is important. If you choose to be bitter and angry at the world every day, you may not get to experience the joy that you could feel if you simply decided to be happy or positive. I want to challenge those of you reading this to start your days with kindness to yourself. There is always something good in every single day, so look for the positive and give yourself one compliment. Putting yourself in this mindset can really make your day so much better. I know the power of my mind, and I know what to do to let myself have a good day. The hard part is sticking to it, but once you do, you’ll want to do it every day.  One small, positive thought can completely turn your day around and there are so many simple ways to take care of yourself that don’t cost a thing. I have been working on doing these things daily, and I have noticed great changes in my mood and my overall mindset.

I just wanted to share this quick message to remind you to love yourself and to always be kind to yourself. Just do the best that you can! Thank you for reading, and I would appreciate it if you shared this post with your friends and remind those that you love to take care of themselves as well! Until next time!

I am not sure who originally said this quote, but it is something that I think about often, and I wanted to share it with you:

“You live most of your life inside of your head. Make sure it’s a nice place to be.”

Gym Tips for Beginners

I remember how I felt when I first started going to the gym. I felt like everyone was watching and judging me, and I was a little nervous that I was doing something wrong. Luckily, I had my Dad right by my side to teach me everything I needed to know. I know that not everyone has someone to head over to the gym with and I can imagine that going by yourself would be a little nerve wracking at first, so I am here to give you some tips to get over that fear today!

  • Go with a friend

As I just mentioned, going to the gym alone can be a little scary at first, so if you can, grab a friend, parent, sibling, or whoever you feel comfortable with and work out together! This way, you will be more focused on you and your friend and not on everyone that is “watching you”. Most of the time people are at the gym to better themselves, not to watch others and laugh at them. I have to say, I have met many more kind and supportive people at my gym than judgmental and rude people.

  • Plan your workouts ahead of time

YouTube has so many helpful videos that demonstrate the proper way to perform any exercise. (I would try to find videos of someone reputable and trustworthy. You don’t want to hurt yourself or perform any of the exercises incorrectly.) Watching videos and practicing the exercises at home will help you feel more confident when you’re in the gym!

  • Find the form of exercise that you love the most (or one that you can at least somewhat deal with)

There are so many different forms of exercise, and just because weight lifting is my favorite way, it does not mean that it will be yours too. You do not have to have a gym membership to get a good workout in, or to be healthy. Running, lifting, hiking, dancing, yoga, and participating in sports are all great ways to work out! Find what works for you and don’t be afraid to try new things!

  • Create a playlist

Another way to combat nerves is to have a fun workout playlist! Pick your favorite upbeat songs to play while you kill it! Not only will hearing your favorite songs make you less nervous, it can also help you focus and get you through difficult exercises!

  • BREATHE

This one may seem obvious, but I cannot tell you how many times I will forget to breathe properly during my workouts.  As you exert energy, exhale. Breathe in through your nose, and out through your mouth.

  • Start slow and start light

There is absolutely NO reason to lift 50 pounds on your first day at the gym unless you want to injure yourself. There is nothing wrong with taking the 5 pound dumbbells and using them for your entire upper body day. If you feel like 5’s are way too easy, try the next number up. Don’t forget to go slow and control your movements.  (Remember that although the 5’s may seem easy on your first set, as you get to your second or third, it may get more difficult. Don’t get ahead of yourself.)

  • It’s not a competition or a race (unless it actually is)

If you are heading to the gym with a partner, whether they are more experienced in the gym or not, you do NOT have to use the same weights they are using, or go as fast as they are on the treadmill. Unless it is actually a competition that you are participating in, there’s no need to focus so much on the other person. Don’t compare yourself to someone else. Although healthy competition is good for us at times, in many cases it is better to simply focus on yourself and do what is best for you. (Use these people as motivation; you will get to where they are one day!)

  • Designate a small corner of the gym for your workout

I have been going to the gym for almost 4 years now and this is something I still do to this day. If you are uncomfortable working out in front of a bunch of people or you just like a more private workout, try to find a corner of your gym where no one really goes too often and do your exercises over there (preferably near a mirror so you can see what you are doing).

  • Wear what makes you comfortable (but follow your gym’s dress code)

If you are most comfortable in leggings and a tank top, wear it! If you are more comfortable in an oversized t-shirt and shorts, wear it! If you are constantly tugging at your clothes and walking around uncomfortably, you are not going to get a good workout in.

I hope that you found some of these tips helpful and before you know it you’ll be walking around the gym like you own it! I am planning on posting a fitness update sometime in the near future so be on the lookout for that! Thank you for reading! Now go kill it!

My Fitness Journey

At a young age, my Mom signed me up for dance and ice skating lessons. After doing this for a few years, we ended up moving to a completely different state in 2011 and I was too nervous to sign up for lessons again (although I loved to dance and ice skate).  I never really considered myself an athlete, and throughout my late childhood and early teenage years I was not a part of any sports teams nor did I care to be. It was never a goal of mine to be the best female soccer player, or the best gymnast in the world. From that point on, I was not a very active person. In February of 2016 all of that changed. My Dad decided to start going to our local gym after taking quite a few years off due to a shoulder injury. He had done weight training almost all his life. I am not really sure what made me want to, but one day I asked him if I could go with him and he said yes. I started to go to the gym every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. My Dad would pick me up from school on those days and we would go straight to the gym. He taught me everything I needed to know, and he always stressed the importance of having proper form when lifting. I started off using very light weight and spent a lot of time practicing the exercises he taught me. Many women are terrified to even go near the weights section in the gym for the fear of looking too “manly”, and many will often opt for cardio instead.  I am not going to lie, I was a little nervous about that when I first started too. I now understand that that is very unlikely and that you have a lot of control over what your body looks like. I stuck to the same routine for almost two years and my body reacted to weight lifting (and cardio) very quickly. I first noticed that my legs were looking different, and eventually I noticed the changes in my upper body as well, and I think this is partly why I fell in love with weight lifting. It wasn’t just because of the way my body was changing, but also because of the way that it made me feel. I would walk out of the gym feeling so much better than when I walked in. Not everyone is the same, and results may come sooner or later depending on the person and what they do in the gym. I got lucky, but I also worked really hard. Around my two year anniversary, I discovered the Gymshark athletes on Instagram and YouTube and watched their videos religiously. I learned a lot about changing up your workout routines from time to time, and about eating healthy to see more results. I was never someone who ate a TON of unhealthy food, but I definitely could have been eating better. Up until that point I really didn’t change the way I ate even though I was working out and seeing some results. I didn’t realize that changing my diet would help me see even more results. My three year anniversary in the gym came around and I decided that it was time to change my usual gym routine and to start eating healthier. The change was not very easy (especially for someone with a GIANT sweet tooth like me), however it made a really big difference. I was pushing myself harder in the gym and taking it more seriously than I ever did before. I saw more changes in my body and I slowly added more protein, fruits, and vegetables to my diet. I was making sure to eat enough food to grow muscle, and I was drinking eight cups of water every day. Since then, I have been changing up my workouts around every six months to keep myself motivated, however eating right is still the most difficult part of living a healthy life. As time goes on, I am learning more and more and I have definitely made mistakes but that is OK! I let myself eat something sweet every single day, and I am still learning to not be so hard on myself. I have also realized that motivation comes and goes and NO ONE is motivated 100% of the time. Living a healthy life is a little bit more difficult as a full-time college student but I am doing the best that I can, and that is enough. February 23, 2020 will be my four year anniversary of weight lifting and I cannot believe that so much time has passed since I first started. I always like to thank my Dad for getting me into a lifestyle I never saw myself in. I never considered myself an athlete, not until now. And for someone as girly as me, I did not ever picture myself being the kind of person to head over to the gym and lift weights. Change is possible, and self-love is possible. This is just one step that I took that led me in the right direction. It  has brought me so much joy and confidence. My fitness journey may not be the most inspiring or incredible story to ever be told, but it is mine, and I am very proud of it.

Thank you so much for reading this post. As my fitness journey continues, I will be sure to update often! I would truly appreciate it if you shared with your friends and subscribed to my blog!