My Fitness Journey Part 3: Goals + Guilt

making nice in the midwest fitness journey

Whew! January is halfway over, and I still haven’t made any New Year’s resolutions! Have you? I tend to shy away from January resolutions because I figure if something is important enough to me, I wouldn’t have waited until the new year to make a change. But last January I was so inspired by friends’ journeys to becoming healthier (including losing weight for aesthetic purposes), that I decided to get a YMCA membership and work on my own fitness. One year later, and I’m still actually using that membership. Go me! But I have a little confession. I fell off the fitness wagon for a few months in the Summer and Fall. But I learned some things! I picked myself back up. And now I want to offer you some advice and encouragement in case you need it. (And don’t we all?)

I told myself that my fitness journey didn’t have an end date. This is a lifestyle. Blah, blah, blah… everybody says it. I shied away from setting goals and dates because I was worried I’d become so focused on the goals and dates that I would view the entire endeavor as a short-term project that should be completely full-steam ahead. I told myself it wasn’t a race, but I still burned myself out! I was working out too much and being too strict with my nutritional intentions that I made myself feel like I failure when I slipped up or took a week off. One week off turned into three, which turned into four, and then I sort of just quit working out at all, which in turn made me much less likely to make good choices at the grocery store.

From July-November I did pop into the gym once or twice a month out of guilt. But I also engaged in quite a bit of overindulging in junk food and sweets to deal with my YOLO feelings when I thought perhaps my cancer had returned with a vengeance. (I had received bad results from a follow-up scan, which ended up being nothing to worry about, but that’s a story for another day.) I became reacquainted with bad habits during this time, and in five months, I had gained back 10 of the 20 pounds I lost from January-June, and a decent amount of muscle mass. And, of course, I felt like a failure. Feeling like a failure isn’t very motivating, turns out. Feeling like a failure kept me reaching for the Double Stuffed Golden Oreos.

After a while of being disappointed in myself, and frustrated with how my clothes were fitting, I figured the best thing to do was to pick myself back up and start up again where I had left off! I actually felt weird going into the gym again, like the regulars would judge me for my time off, or like they would actually notice I had to decrease the weight I had been using before. Ha! What a thought. I had to shake off those weird insecurities and shame and get back into beast mode where I didn’t care about what anyone thought, and focus on my own goals.

Wait, goals? What goals? I thought unrealistic goals were what had knocked me down in the first place? It’s difficult to say what happened, really. Maybe it was that I had achieved success to a certain degree, found it easier to back off, and then felt like I had backed off so far, it would be too difficult to get back into it. Or maybe it was that I thought my goals were unrealistic. Feelings of self-doubt told me I’d always have a big belly, I’d never be able to run that fast, or I’d never be able to squat like that one girl… I think it was a combination of a lot of things. But it came down to just settling for who I was, instead of who I could be.

I have decided to quit focusing on what I could look like in a year, and start thinking about what I can DO in a month. I’ve decided goal setting IS for me after all, but only when it comes to what I can achieve. Achievements don’t define me, but they do empower me. The scale doesn’t empower me. Looser pants don’t empower me. Sure, those things can make me feel nice in the moment. But that doesn’t hold up over time. So for 2017, I have decided to set one goal for each month which will encourage me to challenge myself with my fitness in a way that is attainable, but also requires me to be consistent with my workouts and push myself a little (not a lot).

January’s goal is to run 80 miles. I decided this is achievable, because on good weeks, I’ve been able to run 20 miles. Multiply that by four, and I could get in 80 miles if I put in the work every week, even when I don’t feel like it. So far I have ran 56 miles and am easily on target to reach my goal by the end of the month! I’ve also decided what February’s goal will be. I’ll still be running, though not as much (and I won’t be tracking my mileage), because I’m aiming to do 2 leg days a week in addition to one day of biceps/triceps/shoulders and one day of back/chest. This is a big deal, because I work really hard on leg days in the weight room, and I usually have trouble walking and sitting down the next day. Two leg days a week would be a lot to stick to for a whole year, but I could do it for the shortest month of the year, right?!

Feeling successful by hitting smaller, achievable goals helps set me up to make good choices with my nutrition (allowing indulgences more than once a week), and in general gives me so much confidence! My body is continuing to change, which is wonderful to see, but more importantly I am proud of myself for what I can do, rather than how I look.

(P.S. The top photo is from last Summer. I’m finally back at that weight and feeling stronger than ever!)

WHAT I WORE | Raw Denim Statement Sleeves

raw denim statement sleeves

It seems like everyone’s reflecting on the year we’ve had, for better or for worse, and I’m over here like, “I made it! I’m still here! Whew!” In general I get super sappy, depressed, and morbidly nostalgic when I reflect heavily on the past… don’t ask me why I get the sads instead of treasuring all of the happiness. But it’s a bad habit that at least I’m aware of!

So while everyone else is making big plans for the new year, I did take a moment to think about the direction my wardrobe is taking. As a 30-something, I’m all about finding classics that I will love over time as well as creating a wardrobe that mixes and matches easily. In 2016 I felt a massive shift to purchasing mostly neutrals, and have definitely decided that the ’60s is my favorite decade and personal favorite style. So I’ll continue heading in that direction with any new purchases I make, having a little fun with modern trends along the way.

My favorite trend of 2016 has most definitely been the statement sleeve. They’re so cool, and make me feel dramatic in a good way (not in a super sad 2016 was so hard kind of way…). But now that it’s the holiday season, I’m having a little trouble with the bells and ruffles on my arm. How do I reach for the cranberry sauce without dipping my sleeve in the gravy? Heavens to Betsy, how on earth are my sleeves going to slip easily into my winter coat? Oh Lordy. It’s okay, statement sleeves. We’ll make it work. Because you’re worth it.

What was your favorite trend in 2016?

O U T F I T   D E T A I L S :

top: ASOS / jeans: ASOS / boots: Franco Sarto / hat: vintage

raw denim statement sleeves

raw denim statement sleeves

raw denim statement sleeves

Home for the Holidays

Vintage Modern Christmas Decorating

Welcome to my home during our favorite time of year— Christmastime! Turns out, decorating for Christmas this year was more challenging than in the past, because of all my houseplants! Ahhh! I have trees and greenery everywhere, so I had to relocate some babies in order to make space for things like our Christmas tree, as well as a vignette on our dining room cabinet. Things get a little more maximalist this time of year, and then come January, things will feel a little empty and sad. But let’s not talk about January! Let’s just pretend it’s never going to happen. And in the meantime, I’d love for you to come on in and take a look around at our home, slightly transformed for this special time of year.

Artificial Christmas Tree in a Pot

This year we purchased a white tree to replace the larger artificial pine my parents had given to us. We just needed the floor space. On that floor-space saving note, I decided to try potting our artificial tree rather than using a tree skirt or leaving the white metal stand exposed. I was excited about the prospect of a pot for the tree base, but a little worried it wouldn’t look right. Maybe I’m just a worry wart, because it turned out beautifully, and I’m so glad I took the time to do it!

All I did was use pour half of a bag of Quickcrete into a plastic pot with a 1.25″ PVC pip segment in the middle. I poured the concrete around the pipe rather than plunging the pipe into the concrete, because I needed the height to insert the metal rod of the tree base. I did end having to trim the PVC pipe down a bit after it was in the pot (which I did using a Dremel tool), but I figured it’s better to have it too long than too short, because cutting it wasn’t too difficult.

If you want to try potting your artificial tree, here are my two main tips of caution:

  1. Make sure you pipe is the proper diameter to fit snugly around your metal base before cementing the pipe.
  2. Drill a hole through the side of a pipe for a large eyelet screw to tightly screw into the pipe to secure the tree base once the base is in place inside the pipe.
  3. Make the potted base before assembling your tree. It’s just so much easier to make sure things fit and whatnot. :) I didn’t do this. In fact, my tree was decorated and I broke a couple of cherished ornaments moving the tree into the pot! Sad face!

Artificial Christmas Tree in a Pot

Vintage Modern Christmas Decorating

I also did more subtle decorations in the living room with greenery on the TV stand, a cute little sign, and white bottle brush trees. The former coffee table vase contents of eucalyptus was swapped out for white wintery looking branches. And I hung a star marquee light beside the sofa artwork as well. Not too much, but just enough, in my opinion.

Vintage Modern Christmas Decorating

Vintage Modern Christmas Decorating

Vintage Modern Christmas Decorating

The dining room is a bit more festive than the living room. Because I don’t have a fireplace mantel, I decorate the dining room cabinet as though it were one huge mantel. I got the silver tinsel trees here, the deer from Target, and the other elements I’ve had around for a while. Except for our little winter scene in the cloche jar! That was a fun, easy project I did with Lucy. The jar is from JoAnn.

winter cloche jar scene


We also got new stockings for the girls (from Target) and I made an advent calendar that our whole family is obsessed with! Check out the full DIY at A Beautiful Mess here.

We also added some decorations to the girls’ new bedroom, but I’ll share more about that room soon! What are your favorite Christmas decorations? Mine, hands down, has got to be the tree.

Vintage Modern Christmas Decorating