February Challenges

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Sorry, it has taken me a couple of weeks to post this but it’s been a very busy month. I have enjoyed doing little mini-challenges vs a big full-year project. Here is what I’m working on this month:

1. Workout Schedule: Find a fitness routine that works for my lifestyle which can be tricky. I don’t have a typical routine from week to week as far as my schedule goals so finding the right plan for me can be a challenge.

2. Update Wardrobe: I need new clothes that I feel good in and that reflects my personality and lifestyle.

3. Read 4 Books by Black Authors: Since it is Black History Month I wanted to work on my reading challenge for the year by focusing on books by Black writers.

4. Create a Budget for the Year: I wanted to create a budget and savings goals for this year.

5. Self Care Routine: I wanted to find a way to give myself a little more love and care and make that part of each week.

I’ll be sharing more specifics on these goals in future posts.

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Bullet Journal: Daily Tasks

If you follow my Instagram you probably know that I love my Passion Planner. I started using one last year and it has helped me stay more organized in my life. I do use the calendar section for all my appointments both professional and personal, but I use the blank pages the focus on my life outside of work, mostly because I use an online task management program for my projects at the office. I love tracking my home life offline though.

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One thing I’ve started is a “Today” section. Before I go to bed I go through the day, check off what I’ve accomplished, and write out my desks for tomorrow. I’ve kept it simple. I focus on my meals, a to-do list, workouts, and writing. I have a few rules to keep it manageable and productive.

  1. I don’t assign myself more than three tasks in any section and sometimes I only assign one or two. This helps me from overwhelming myself like I tend to do when I’m overly ambitious.
  2. If I don’t complete something I don’t sweat it. I save it for the next day.
  3. I make sure to include something I really want to do and treat it with the same level of priority as something I “have” to do. Trust me I’m a lot more motivated to do laundry if I know that working on an article is something that is just as important.

I’ll be sharing more of my bullet journal hacks throughout the year.

January Challenges

IMG_5989Last year I did a 365 project around cooking. It was fun, but I wanted to do something different this year. I wanted to focus on a number of things I want to achieve but do it in baby steps. These aren’t really goals they’re challenges. I plan on tackling five challenges each month. Sometimes I may repeat challenges if I don’t feel I did the challenge justice. Sometimes I may do something related to a previous month’s challenge even if I want to push myself further.  I may do challenges that are unrelated to other ones. We’ll see. I have ideas, but I’m allowing myself to be flexible. I’ll go into these specific challenges in more depth in other posts this month but they are:

1. Duolingo: Practice my French every day this month.

2. Read 4 Books: I have a challenge to read 50 books by the end of the year so I want to get into a good rhythm.

3. Eat Whole Food: The holidays are horrible for me. It’s sugar central! I want to get back to basics and detox in a healthy way.

4. Write Every Day: I used to write every day whether it was a blog post, working on an essay to submit for publications, or just journal/brainstorm.  I want to get back to that place.

5. Plan for 2018: I want to plan out what I want to work on and towards this year.

 

Goodreads Challenge

 

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Goodreads 

 

I’m not doing a 365 challenge like I did in 2017. Instead, I’m doing several mini challenges which I’ll roll out on the blog and Instagram throughout 2018. One challenge that I’ve done the past few years is the Goodreads reading challenge. In 2017 I had a goal of reading 40 books in a year. I ended up reading 46. This year I’ve upped that goal to 50. If you are looking for something new to read here are the books I picked up in 2017 along with my Goodreads ratings on a scale of 1-5 stars, five stars being I loved it.

Fiction:

Cold Comfort Farm 🌟🌟🌟

Cybele’s Secret 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

The Handmaid’s Tale 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Jamaica Inn 🌟🌟🌟

The Secret History of Twin Peaks 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

The Signature of All Things 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Something Wicked This Way Comes 🌟🌟🌟🌟

State of Wonder 🌟🌟🌟

Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Wildwood Dancing 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Non Fiction: 

All The Single Ladies 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

American Heiress  🌟🌟

The Art of Memoir 🌟🌟🌟

Celebrate Everything 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Food for the Soul 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

The Heroine’s Bookshelf 🌟🌟🌟

Just Enough Research 🌟🌟🌟

Reflections 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Steering by Starlight 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Cookbooks: 

21 Day Sugar Detox 🌟🌟🌟🌟

21 Day Sugar Detox Cookbook 🌟🌟🌟

Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Autoimmune Wellness Handbook 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Cooking Price-Wise 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Gone with the Gin 🌟🌟🌟

Juice 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Simple French Paleo 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Thinner in 30🌟🌟🌟🌟

The Virgin Diet  🌟🌟🌟

Memoirs/Biographies: 

How to Be a Woman 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Hunger 🌟🌟🌟

My Lucky Life In and Out of Showbusiness 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

My Kitchen Year 🌟🌟🌟

The Princess Diarist 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Negroland 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating

Graphic Novel: 

Adulthood is a Myth 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Spirituality:

Chakras 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Crystals, Colors, and Chakras 🌟🌟🌟🌟

For This We Left Egypt 🌟🌟🌟

The Little Book of Hindu Deities 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Myths of the Asanas 🌟🌟🌟

A Religion of One’s Own 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Sadhana of the Heart 🌟🌟🌟

What’s Your Dosha Baby 🌟🌟🌟

 

365 Project: Recipes 301-315

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Sorry I haven’t been posting as frequently. I have some exciting announcements coming in the near future which will explain that. In the meantime, though we’re getting to towards the end of 365 project. Here are 15 more recipes. Some of them may prove to be good for some last minute Thanksgiving inspiration.

301. Cherry Carob Shake

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Source: Original

Notes: While on AIP I couldn’t do chocolate so I did a shake with carob powder, cherries, and coconut milk. If you are doing AIP you can also add collagen protein.

Rating: Liked

302. Rosemary Roasted Radishes

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Source: Eat the Gains 

Notes: These were an amazing substitute for roasted potatoes.

Rating: LOVED

303. Tarragon Steak

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Source: Original

Notes: I made a dry rub with tarragon, salt, and thyme and pan seared a steak in coconut oil for four minutes per side.

Rating: Liked

304. Cranberry Fig Ice Cream

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Source: Autoimmune Wellness

Notes: This was more tart than sweet.

Rating: Okay

305. Pumpkin Sausage Soup

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Source: Beyond the Bite

Notes: I made this in the crockpot for 8 hours on low heat.

Rating: LOVED

306. Saffron Shake

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Source: Unicorn Kitchen 

Notes: I adapted to this to make it AIP compliant. I used coconut milk products and omitted the cardamom.

Rating: Liked

307. Crispy Orange Pork

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Source: Real Everything

Notes: I have been finding that I am really sensitive to soy which is in almost every Chinese dish. This AIP recipe satisfies that craving.

Rating: Liked

308. Butternut Squash Fries

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Source: Cute Fetti 

Notes: I also sprinkled a little nutritional yeast on these.

Rating: LOVED

309. Turmeric Shake

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Source: Lifeway Keifer 

Notes: I did coconut milk instead of Keifer.

Rating: Okay

310. Fall Egg Bake

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Source: 40 Aprons

Notes: This would be amazing for Thanksgiving or Christmas morning breakfast.

Rating: LOVED

311. Sunchoke and Asparagus Salad

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Source: Well and Good

Notes: More of a spring recipe but still tasty.

Rating: Liked

312. Sole Almondine

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Source: Closet Cooking 

Notes: I used sole instead of trout.

Rating: Liked

313. Lamb Meatballs with Garlic and Spinach

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Source: AutoImmune Cookbook

Notes: I would try this with beef or turkey in the future.

Rating: Liked

314. Broccoli Leek Soup

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Source: Sweetpeas and Saffron 

Notes: I made this in the slow cooker on low for 7 hours.

Rating: Liked

315. Carob Coconut Ice Cream

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Source: Original

Notes: I mixed carob powder, coconut milk, and carob chips in an ice cream maker. This would work better with chocolate or if I had added sugar or natural sweetener. Carob is too bitter.

Rating: Pass

 

 

 

Mindful Monday: Habits vs Resolutions

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In January we tend to start the year of with lofty resolutions that if you’re like me and most people you tend to abandon by February. This year I’m saying adios to resolutions and instead focusing on habits that I want to improve on this and every year. So here are my goals for 2017:

Be healthier: I think the most common resolution around the new year revolves around weight loss and health. I don’t want to focus on a number on the scale, how many gym visits I fit into a week, or how much I can bench press. Instead, I think better goals are to be active and know when my body needs a rest day, eat good and nutritious food that I enjoy, and most importantly feel good about my body and how I look. To get to that place it’s not about being “perfect” it’s about being hydrated, wearing clothes that make me feel great, and getting the proper amount of sleep.

Cook more: I’m a foodie and I love going to restaurants and trying new dishes and cuisines. Even more satisfying is expanding my own repertoire in the kitchen. I have a lofty goal of making 365 new (to me) dishes this year. I’ve made six so far so we’ll see how this goes.

Save more and spend smarter: The past few years I’ve had some things come up where I’ve had to dip into savings. I want to have a cushier net and I want to be more mindful about spending.

Be better organized I keep busy with lots of different things in my life and when everything is full steam I get a bit scattered. I also can loose site of the big picture and that’s when things get out of balance. I am trying a Passion Planner this year to keep everything in one place and to make sure I’m spending my time well.

Write more: I don’t just mean blogging, I used to do more freelance writing and last year felt very blocked. I want to work on more pieces that mean something to me and send them out into the world.

Those are my larger focuses for the year which are playing out in some smaller projects, but more on that in the future. What are you concentrating on this year?

 

Rewarding Yourself

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Yesterday’s post was really hard for me to write and I want to thank the outpour of support I’ve received from friends, relatives, and kind people I don’t know but who read this blog. No matter what the outcome this is going to be a lifelong journey, but honestly I knew that was the case when I made the decision to get a lap band. The lap band was a tool, an amazing tool, but remember even the most expensive wrench will do you no good if the plumber isn’t using it correctly. It was me not my lap band that took up running, yoga, and dragged myself to the gym. It’s true that the band helps you feel fuller faster but it was me not the band who choose to choose a small portion of salmon over a small portion of chocolate ice cream as I was losing weight.

During that weight loss process, I made sure to reward myself for milestones. I’m planning on doing the same with this journey to lose the few extra pounds I put on during the slip and to maintain that weight. I think rewarding yourself is important when you’re striving towards any goal. If you’re not looking to loose weight you may be embarking on an academic or career challenge, perhaps you’re trying to increase your distance as a runner, or maybe you’re just trying to watch less TV. Whatever your goal is you can break it down into smaller goals because you will hit those faster. You should have small rewards in place for when you hit those marks. I like to break things out into quarters as well and give myself a midsize reward when I hit those and I give myself a big reward when I hit my final achievement.

You don’t need to spend a lot of money on these rewards if your budget is tight. You just need to make sure the treat is something you really want and something that will keep you motivated towards your end goal. When I was going through this weight loss challenge I never used food as a reward because that seemed counter intuitive. I set myself up with small milestones like losing 4 pounds a month since that averaged to about a pound a week if I hit that goal I’d treat myself to a pass for a new fitness class I was dying to try, a ticket for a movie I’d passed on earlier because I didn’t want to miss a scheduled workout, or a new tube of lipstick.

My quarterly goals were when I hit certain weight loss milestones. By that point I would have dropped a size or two and rather than taking my pants in again, I would treat myself to a new mini wardrobe. When I hit my final weight loss goal I bought myself a fabulous dress that may not be what most people consider expensive but for me, at that time it was an investment.

So to kickstart this new challenge I took myself out for a haircut. I know that seems silly and maybe not like a reward, but I have to say whenever I get my hair done I feel amazing. Amazing is a great way to feel when you embark on a new challenge. What rewards do you give yourself for a job well done?