Adventures in the Emerald City: Things to Do in Seattle

For those of you who follow my social media accounts, you may have noticed an influx of photos from the Pacific Northwest over the last week! Yes, it’s possible I went a little Instagram-crazy during my time in Washington, but for good reason: the trip was a blastAs a fun way to celebrate graduation from my MBA program, I decided to visit one of my best friends who now lives in Seattle. For four days, we covered a lot of ground (topping 30,000 steps more than once during the trip), and I absolutely loved my time in the Emerald City.

While Seattle is known for its rainy days, we experienced perfect weather (70s and 80s during the day) and barely a cloud in the sky. Visiting Seattle in July was the perfect break from our 90-plus degree Florida summers, and I highly recommend this time of year for your next trip out there.

If you’re planning a trip out to Seattle, check out my sightseeing tips and restaurant suggestions. Oh, and bring comfortable shoes. 🙂

Things to Do in Seattle | Wellness & Wanderlust

What We Did: The Highlights

  • Pike Place Market
    Pike Place Market was the perfect place to kick off my trip to Seattle! This market features a variety of local vendors, merchants, and farm tables, and is a great spot to begin exploring. After checking in at the hotel, I wandered around Pike Place (and yes, I did see a fish get tossed through the air!), picked up a grab-and-go fruit cup from Growing Washington, ate lunch overlooking Puget Sound, and bought a bouquet of dry flowers for my room. I also visited the Gum Wall, a wall covered in chewing gum in Post Alley. As gross as the concept is, I still had to contribute my own piece of gum to the wall. I’ll never look at Orbit Sweet Mint the same way again.
  • Space Needle
    No trip to Seattle is complete without a visit to the Space Needle. Built for the 1962 World’s Fair, this tower provides breathtaking views of the city (as well as Mount Rainier in the distance). The Space Needle is currently undergoing renovations on its observation deck, which will give visitors an even better view of the city. Tickets to the Space Needle can be bundled with other local attractions, so I highly suggest this option if you plan on sticking around.

Things to Do in Seattle | Wellness & Wanderlust

  • Chihuly Garden and Glass
    I wasn’t all that familiar with the work of Dale Chihuly before my trip to Seattle, but after visiting Chihuly Garden and Glass, I’m officially a fan. Located in Seattle Center next to the Space Needle, Chihuly features colorful glassworks, both inside the glass house and integrated outside in the gardens. The art is beautiful and can be enjoyed by all ages. I will definitely plan a visit to Chihuly’s exhibit in St. Petersburg sometime soon!
  • Museum of Flight
    The Museum of Flight is an aviation museum located at Boeing Field, south of Downtown Seattle, and is absolutely worth a visit. With more than 150 aircraft on display and a NASA-focused exhibit, the Museum of Flight also features flight simulators and a children’s area as well.
  • Volunteer Park
    My friend and I visited Volunteer Park early in the trip, in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. Climbing the water tower allowed us to take in the beautiful city views at sunset. The park is also home to the Black Sun sculpture, which supposedly inspired Soundgarden’s song Black Hole Sun.

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  • Fremont Troll
    The neighborhood of Fremont is home to some spectacular food and beverage spots, but it also houses the famous Fremont Troll under the bridge. Naturally, I had to snap a photo! The spot is worth a visit, and once you’ve finished your photo op, there are a lot of great places to grab dinner or drinks nearby.
  • Gas Works Park
    Gas Works Park, also located in Fremont, is a former gas plant that offers some of the best views of the Seattle skyline. A DJ played nearby while we enjoyed the beautiful weather and scenery. I highly recommend Gas Works Park to take in the views!
  • Snoqualmie Falls
    We ventured out to Snoqualmie Falls, about 30 minutes outside of Downtown Seattle, where we hiked a steep half mile down to see the waterfalls up close. The view was worth every step. You can park for free in the hotel parking lot and catch some great photos from the top as well.
  • Clipper Ferry to Victoria, BC
    Stay tuned for my recap on our Canadian adventure in an upcoming post!

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Where We Ate

  • Starbucks Reserve Roastery
    Seattle is — of course — known for Starbucks, but have you ever been to one of their Roastery locations? With a full bakery and craft coffee drinks, this is no ordinary Starbucks. For an energy boost, I ordered a coffee flight with chocolate truffle pairings. My favorite? The Peru Chontali with red apple, lemon, and cocoa.
  • Veggie Grill
    After the fact, I learned that Veggie Grill is actually a chain of restaurants, mainly on the West Coast. However, this healthy lunch spot was still a welcome discovery for me! They offer vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options for those who have food sensitivities, and I absolutely loved their Summer Celebration Salad. If you’ve never tried purple potatoes, this is the place for you!
  • Pike Brewing Company
    Located near Pike Place, Pike Brewing Company offers beer flights, chowder, salads, sandwiches and more pub fare. They were especially accommodating with food allergies and provided fantastic service. I loved my sandwich, but the Wooden Hills Brewery Pear Cider was my all-time favorite.
  • Le Panier
    I’m a sucker for French bakeries, so I couldn’t pass this one up! I tried a vanilla macaron at the Le Panier in Pike Place — absolutely worth a visit.
  • Steepologie
    Steepologie offers teas on tap, so of course I had to sample their iced Crimson Fruits tea, with cranberry, safflower, strawberry, and raspberry. Bring your cup back into the store and get 50% off for your refill! Steepologie also sells loose teas online.
  • The Red Door
    The Red Door, a restaurant in Fremont, offers craft beers and rooftop dining. Their Sesame Chicken Salad was delicious, but the restaurant also features seafood, burgers, sandwiches, and delicious tots.
  • Capitol Cider
    This cider bar in Capitol Hill is actually the largest independent bar of its kind in the country! As someone who prefers cider over beer, I loved their Bad Granny Cherry Cider. For all of you cider lovers, this cider bar has a wide selection you’ll have to try!
  • The Matador
    After Snoqualmie Falls, we headed over to Redmond, where several of our friends from college moved to work for Microsoft. We grabbed dinner at The Matador, a Mexican restaurant with other locations in Washington, Portland, and in the North and Southwest. If you’re near a Matador location, check it out for delicious Mexican food!

What are your suggestions for a trip to Seattle? Share in the comments below!

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Things I’m Loving Lately: Healthy Restaurants in Central Florida

Happy 3rd of July! I’m excited to celebrate tomorrow in the best way I know how: poolside with a burger. 🙂 How are you guys celebrating your 4th?

Now that I’m done with grad school, I’ve been working hard to get my health back on track, and I’m proud to say that I’ve made some great strides. From hitting the gym to eating cleaner (less inflammatory) foods, I feel stronger and healthier than I have in a long time. I completed a round of Whole30 shortly after graduation, and am now working toward a higher goal of balance and eating intuitively. Knowing what works well for me (protein, veggies) versus what doesn’t (gluten, sweeteners, legumes) has changed the way I fill my plate or look at a menu, and I’m excited to continue down this path.

Of course, in keeping up with the theme of balance, I have been especially excited to discover healthier restaurants in the Orlando area that cater to different dietary needs and restrictions. In today’s post, I’ll share some of my favorite finds for all of you local foodies (and visitors, too!). 🙂

Things I'm Loving Lately: Healthy Restaurants in Central Florida
Fresh Kitchen
I discovered Fresh Kitchen in Waterford Lakes after a UCF event last year, and was so impressed with their bowls that I kept coming back for more! Fresh Kitchen’s concept is similar to that of Chipotle: You walk up to the counter, choose your bases, pick your vegetables and proteins, and add sauces as needed. The difference? Their entire menu is gluten free, most of their food is free from dairy and processed sugars, and their meats are antibiotic free. (They also sell paleo cookies and zucchini brownies if you’re looking to splurge!) My favorite menu items are the coconut rice, the pesto chicken, and the broccoli, but they have fresh seasonal veggies and other proteins worth a taste as well. They recently opened a location in Downtown Orlando, and are also located in South Florida and in the Tampa/St. Pete area.

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BOCA
Located on Park Avenue across from the Morse Museum (check out my recap here), BOCA is a farm-to-table restaurant that sources its food locally and offers seasonal menus. I loved their Smoked Cachaca Chicken, but they offer a variety of market specials, including many menu items that are gluten-free or vegetarian. I’m excited to go back for brunch!

Things I'm Loving Lately: Healthy Restaurants in Central Florida

Olea Mediterranean Grill
I’m a big fan of Greek food, so I was especially excited when Olea Mediterranean Grill opened up in Sanford. Much like Fresh Kitchen, Olea offers a variety of options — customers can go up to the counter and choose a pita, lettuce, or grains, and add in their favorite spreads, toppings, and proteins. I’ve had to cut back from hummus, but their lemon herb tahini and their tzatziki are absolutely addictive. Each food item is labeled for those who have food restrictions, and if you’re gluten-free or vegan, there are tons of delicious options for you. Olea has locations in Sanford, Maitland, and Orlando.

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Farm & Haus
In the back corner of the East End Market in Orlando is Farm & Haus, which doubles as a café and meal delivery service. Farm & Haus has a menu that changes regularly, but offers healthy meals created from scratch. Farm & Haus delivers meals near its Audubon Park location in the East End Market, so when I took classes downtown, I often ordered dinner from there! Their café, which serves breakfast and lunch, is also home to Orlando’s best avocado toast (I swear–you can Google it).

Things I'm Loving Lately: Healthy Restaurants in Central Florida

Infusion Tea
Although not exclusively vegetarian, Infusion Tea offers some amazing meatless options, and is known as Orlando’s “organic tea café.” I am absolutely in love with their roasted pear salad, and the space is also great for parties and events. The restaurant also has its own Arts Co-Op inside, where you can pick up some fun gifts, and when you visit on a Saturday, you can also enjoy the College Park Farmers Market outside. If you love tea, try the pineapple bliss tea — I promise you will not be sorry!

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Orlando foodies, what are your favorite healthy options in the area? Sound off in the comments below!

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Advocate Fiercely: 4 Ways to Take Inventory and Showcase Yourself

Last week, I hosted a luncheon at the office on the topic of advocating fiercely for oneself. The presentation was inspired by the ATHENA Next Gen program, an eight-month series for emerging women leaders, which I was honored to join last year. Based around the principles in Martha Mayhood Mertz’s book Becoming Athena, the program not only introduced me to a lot of new friends, but it also really drove my personal development in 2017.

A lot of the program’s leadership principles, like building relationships and giving back, come naturally to me. However, when it comes to advocating for myself, I (and many others out there!) really struggle. I knew this was a common problem in the workplace, so I brought in one of the co-founders of our local ATHENA program to present to our staff over lunch.

After the presentation, I began to think more generally about the ways we can advocate for ourselves, and I realized how important it is for us to take inventory of our own achievements. If we don’t actively keep track of our successes, how can we effectively ask for that raise or promotion? It’s easy to forget just how much we’ve accomplished, and without clear examples in mind, it’s no wonder that many of us clam up when it’s time to negotiate.

So how are you taking inventory of what you’re contributing to the workplace? Check out my list below for four easy ways to track your achievements in time for your next review.

Ways To Advocate For Yourself in the Workplace1. Make a list of your accomplishments each year.
This one seems like a no-brainer, but it’s amazing how much of a difference one little list can make. A friend suggested this to me at a time when I was truly struggling to balance grad school and full-time work, when I felt I wasn’t really excelling in either area. As I began to list my work accomplishments from the year, I was able to view myself from an outsider’s perspective, and the process actually gave me an attitude adjustment. Seeing everything I had done on paper took away a lot of the self-doubt I’d been experiencing, and whenever that doubt creeps back in (as it inevitably does), I can look back at that list and remind myself how much of a badass I can be. Having this list in mind can help you craft specific examples in a job interview or when advocating for a raise at work. It can also be a valuable tool when revising your resumé!

2. Create a portfolio of your work.
If you’re in a creative field, having a portfolio can be especially impactful on the job hunt and beyond. Because of my love for writing, I always keep copies of any published articles, press releases, and other written work. This was important for me to share when I was interviewing for my job, as I was coming in right out of college with limited entry-level work experience. Once you’ve landed the position, it’s still important to keep a portfolio of projects you’ve done in order to effectively showcase your work.

3. Keep a project spreadsheet.
Am I the only nerd out there who will make a spreadsheet for just about anything? In this case, I like to keep a spreadsheet to track the projects I’m currently working on, along with deadlines and progress. At the bottom, I have my list of completed projects and what went into each. This helps me stay on track at work, but that “completed” list is always an ego boost and an easy way to see what you’ve accomplished most recently.

4. Start a success journal.
This was a suggestion we received in our luncheon last week, and I absolutely loved it! Our speaker suggested we keep a journal that not only highlights our successes, but also reflects on what worked, what didn’t work, and what we did to create positive outcomes. This can be an especially important tool for evaluating one’s own efforts and finding ways to improve in the future. It also allows us to advocate for ourselves by providing detailed examples of our accomplishments, along with insights into how we created that success.

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What do you do to advocate for yourself? Share in the comments section below!

What’s Your Wellness Personality?

What's Your Wellness Personality?Now that I’ve officially graduated, I’ve been investing a lot more time into myself and my overall health and wellness. From cutting processed “emergency” foods out of my diet to actually using my gym membership, I am finally at a point where my health is no longer on the back burner. As much as I loved grad school, those last few semesters wore me down, and I’m so happy to get my life back!

This time has also allowed for some self reflection. As I mentioned a few posts back, I’ve been taking Gretchen Rubin’s online course on The Four Tendencies, a framework for how people deal with inner and outer expectations. (Those of you who are familiar with the tendencies and know me well won’t be surprised to hear that I’m an Obliger who tips to Upholder!) I think these assessments and frameworks are a great way for us to learn more about ourselves, what motivates us, and how we can better serve ourselves.

Another personality quiz that has really stood out to me comes from Robyn Conley Downs, whose podcast The Feel Good Effect is one of my absolute favorites. Robyn is also the blogger behind Real Food Whole Lifewhich focuses on how to “ditch should and dive into good.” As a researcher, Robyn has created a Wellness Personality Quiz, which breaks down our patterns in how we create healthy lives. According to Robyn, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to wellness, and it’s important to know ourselves when working to shift our lifestyles and mindsets.

The quiz breaks us down into three types: the Dynamo, the Seeker, and the Cultivator. The Dynamo is a Type A perfectionist who is also self-critical and can stand in his or her own way. The Seeker tends to look outside himself or herself and compare to others, while the Cultivator is starting from ground zero and doesn’t know where to begin on the wellness journey. Taking the quiz taught me that I’m a Dynamo, and provided some helpful podcast episodes, blog entries, and recipes tailored to my type. It was also a gentle reminder that no two journeys are the same, and that it’s important for me to keep that in mind when writing future wellness blogs.

Interested? I highly suggest taking the free quiz and taking advantage of the resources offered. Knowing yourself better will help you achieve your goals in the way that works best for you. 🙂

What’s your wellness personality? Have you used similar frameworks? Share in the comments below! 

Let the Good Times Roll: Things to Do in New Orleans

Things To Do in New OrleansIf you’re wondering why New Orleans keeps popping up on your newsfeed, I promise you’re not alone. It turns out NOLA is the number one travel destination of 2018, and has topped all the major lists for where to visit this year. I was unaware of this when I ventured out to New Orleans this January (an unlikely place for a mother/daughter vacation that turned out to be one of the best yet).

We covered a lot of the French Quarter on this trip, sampling some great food and learning about the diverse New Orleans culture along the way. We visited during Carnival Season, so it was an especially exciting time to see the city as it prepared for Mardi Gras.

If you’re among the many planning to visit New Orleans in the near future, check out my suggested itinerary items below! Please note: This was a mother/daughter trip, so even though we stayed in the French Quarter, we did not spend much time on Bourbon Street (especially after watching the streets get cleaned in the mornings!).

Things to Do in New Orleans

What We Did: The Highlights

  • City Sightseeing Hop On/Hop Off Tour
    Longtime readers of my blog are probably aware that these tours are my favorite way to begin exploring a new city! We hopped on and off the trolley at different popular stops throughout New Orleans, and because the weather was unseasonably cold, we ended up extending to a three-day pass. Our tour guides were excellent and each provided their own unique flavor.
  • Mardi Gras World
    You can’t go to New Orleans and not experience Mardi Gras in some way! At Mardi Gras World (which happened to also be a convenient stop on our bus tour), we watched artists and craftsmen as they built and designed Mardi Gras floats for this year’s parades. We learned about the holiday’s history, as well as the work that goes into building the floats. On our way out, we were invited to try on costumes and have a piece of King Cake. Mardi Gras World is a must-visit for anyone traveling to New Orleans for the first time, and only takes about an hour and a half.
  • Ghost Tour
    Any time I visit a city with a lot of history, I like to take a ghost/cemetery tour. The Haunted History Ghost Tour did not disappoint! The tour gave a lot of background into the city’s history (including Katrina-era), and fully reaffirmed my belief in ghosts!
  • Gallier House and Herman-Grima House
    I grouped these two historic homes together because you can purchase a discounted ticket that grants admission to both houses and they are located within a few blocks of each other. Learn about the families who inhabited these homes, the architectural styles they used, and the historic context.
  • Garden District Walking Tour
    No trip to the Big Easy is complete without a trip to the Garden District, a quieter neighborhood of New Orleans lined with oak trees, historic homes, and adorable shops and cafés. Our hop on/hop off tour included a walking tour of the Garden District, but if you don’t have time for that, it is still a beautiful place to wander.

Things to Do in New Orleans

Where We Ate

  • Café du Monde
    Forget your diet — beignets are a must on any New Orleans trip! We visited the iconic Café du Monde around 7 a.m. on a weekend and managed to arrive before the crowds lined up. A few tricks to get in quickly: Be sure to grab a table as soon as one becomes available. Get there early if possible to avoid the wait; otherwise, you can get your food relatively quickly if you grab it to-go from the window. Know what you want as soon as you sit down — the restaurant is so busy that it’s likely your server will collect the bill as soon as your food arrives. Luckily, the menu is straightforward and limited, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble deciding what to order. My suggestion: a plate of three beignets and a cup of hot chocolate! Make sure you bring cash.
  • The District
    This restaurant in the Garden District was featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives on the Food Network. New Orleans is known for its cuisine, but of all the food we ate on this trip, the sliders and waffle fries at The District were my absolute favorite meal. Grab a donut to go on your way out! To stay in theme with Mardi Gras, we ordered the King Cake donut.
  • Remoulade
    Located in the French Quarter, Remoulade is the more casual, budget-friendly sister restaurant of Arnaud’s. I ordered a delicious lemon marinated grilled chicken, but the restaurant also serves po boys, seafood, burgers, franks and more.
  • Deanie’s Seafood
    I’m not much for seafood, but I did break out of my shell at Deanie’s Seafood, trying out the fried catfish and charbroiled oysters. While I struggled with the texture, I actually really liked the lemon butter flavor! The restaurant also serves a variety of gumbos, salads, sandwiches and other seafood.
  • PJ’s Coffee
    I saw more of this coffee shop than Starbucks!

Have you traveled to NOLA recently? Share your favorite spots in the comments section below!

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5 Months Later: Life Updates

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Well, it’s official: I’m a college graduate (again)! Earlier this month, my graduate school career came to an end as I received my MBA. I’ve learned a lot over the last two years, formed some great friendships, and read more case studies than I’ll ever know what to do with. The past two years have been both rewarding and challenging, and there were times I didn’t think I would get through the program. I’m proud to have proven myself wrong!

People keep asking me what’s next in terms of education and career moves, but honestly, I’m just happy to have some free time to lay out by the pool or hang out with friends without worrying about any upcoming assignments or exams. In January, I talked about my happiness project, but this and my blogging itself fell by the wayside as I combined a full-time semester with my full-time job. Expect to see more content here at Wellness and Wanderlust as I readjust to real life.

Since my last blog post, here are a few snippets of what I’ve been up to:

  • I’m taking Gretchen Rubin’s online Four Tendencies Course, learning more about my Obliger tendency and how I respond to outer expectations. I’m a huge fan of Gretchen’s books and podcast, so I’m really enjoying the course!
  • I started a Whole30 to reestablish some healthier habits in my life post-graduation. I’m on Day 7 and definitely still feeling the hangover effects of cutting out sugar and gluten. Can someone please bring me chocolate?
  • My apartment is finally getting organized. It’s amazing how much everything piled up over the past two years. I’m excited to live like a more functional adult again! If you have any good books or resources for organizing tips, please send them my way.
  • I booked the tickets for my post-graduation vacation and have begun working on the itinerary. Now I just need to dust off my passport!

What has everyone been up to this year?

2017 Book Challenge Results

IMG_2795Happy New Year!

As we begin another year of new adventures, resolutions, friendships, and opportunities, let’s not forget about new books. 🙂 An avid reader, I love to track the books I read from year to year, and although I read considerably less in 2017 than in previous years, it was so gratifying to set aside time for myself away from the required reading for school. I also finally knocked out one book in particular that had been on my list for a long time: Gone With The Wind.

Below are the books I read in 2017. (Click for recaps from 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016!) You can keep up with the current list for 2018 by visiting the Book Challenge page on my top menu or by clicking here.

Books I Read in 2017

  1. How To Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie (1/3/17)
  2. Orange Is The New Black by Piper Kerman (1/22/17)
  3. And Again by Jessica Chiarella (1/29/17)
  4. Food Freedom Forever by Melissa Hartwig (2/19/17)
  5. Yes Please by Amy Poehler (3/29/17)
  6. One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by B.J. Novak (4/19/17)
  7. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin (6/3/17) – 2018 Happiness Project
  8. When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Harold Kushner (6/4/17)
  9. The Universe Has Your Back by Gabrielle Bernstein (9/17/17)
  10. Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell (11/30/17)
  11. Becoming ATHENA by Martha Mayhood Mertz (12/3/17)
  12. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson (12/25/17)

What books do you recommend for 2018? Share in the comments section below!

2018 Happiness Project

Happy New Year! 🙂 I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and is gearing up for an even better 2018. A lot of people are skeptical when it comes to New Year’s resolutions, but sometimes a new year can be the perfect starting point to begin incorporating new practices into our lives. Last year, I read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, in which the author underwent a full year of adopting positive new habits based on happiness research. I loved the book and its practicality so much that I quickly became a fan of Gretchen’s podcast!

Inspired by both the book and the podcast, I decided to take 2018 to create my own happiness project, based on applicable lessons from the book. For the next six months, I will focus on ingraining new healthy practices into my life (and re-ingraining some old ones that have fallen to the wayside!), and will share my results and lessons learned on the blog each month.

Feel free to adopt these practices into your own life from month to month, or create your very own happiness project using the resources from Gretchen’s site. Don’t forget to share your own findings in the comments section!

2018 Happiness Project | Wellness & Wanderlust

  • January 2018: Boost Energy.
    • Practice better sleep hygiene and go to bed earlier.
    • Exercise more often.
    • Go for 15-minute walks before work each morning.
    • Take time to reorganize.
  • February 2018: Focus on Nutrition.
    • Undergo a Whole30.
    • Make time for meal prep every Sunday.
    • Try one new recipe each week.
  • March 2018: Lighten Up & Appreciate the Present.
    • Attempt a “Pollyanna Week” of minimal to no complaining.
    • Keep a one-sentence journal.
    • Practice gratitude each day.
  • April 2018: Reevaluate Finances.
    • Look over my monthly budget and find areas to cut back.
    • Organize coupons and gift cards for more efficient use.
  • May 2018: Make Time for Friends.
    • Prioritize social time with friends.
    • Don’t gossip.
    • Show up.
  • June 2018: Pursue a Passion.
    • Dedicate more time to writing and blogging.
    • Submit an original piece to a new publication.
    • Work on learning a new technology.

What are your resolutions for 2018? Share in the comments section below!

Your Health in Action: Small Changes You Can Make in 2018

Your Health in Action: Small Changes You Can Make in 2018The end of the year is quickly approaching, and if you’re anything like me (and millions of other people worldwide), you’re probably hard at work on your list of resolutions for 2018. Many of us are after the same things, but without concrete goals and strategies for achieving those goals, we are likely to abandon our resolutions before we even reach the month of February.

Health-related achievements are one of the most popular — if not the most popular — new year’s resolutions we set for ourselves. Whether we are looking to lose weight, run a marathon, or demonstrate Gaston-level feats of strength, we often aim to improve our overall health and wellness at this time of year.

In order for us to accomplish these goals, it is important for us to make changes we can stick to. While major transitions (like embarking on the Whole30 or adopting an intense fitness regimen) can have a significant impact on our health, let’s not forget about some of the small changes we can implement in our lives as well! Check out a few of my tips for ways to improve our health in 2018, and share your own in the comments section below.

  • Drink more water.
    Experts say that we should be drinking half our bodyweight in ounces of water each day. Drinking enough water will keep you fuller longer, boost your metabolism, hydrate your skin, and provide a myriad of other health benefits. Invest in a cute water bottle or tumbler that you can refill throughout the day for easy access, and consider swapping soft drinks or other beverages for water when dining out.
  • Meditate and practice gratitude.
    Spiritual and mental health are arguably just as important as your physical health, and can ultimately help you achieve your goals by relieving stress and encouraging self-awareness. Meditate for just a few minutes a day with some ambient music (my artist suggestions: The Album Leaf or Eluvium), or search for “5-minute meditation” options on Spotify for an instant boost. You can also choose to keep a gratitude journal to remind you of the things you’re grateful for.
  • Dedicate time to meal prep.
    I’ve written about the merits of #MealPrepSunday before, but they are absolutely worth another mention. Cooking three healthy, Instagram-worthy meals each and every day (from scratch, of course!) is no easy feat when you’re also juggling work, school, a social life, and other obligations. However, it is much easier to eat healthy throughout the week when you’ve chopped/mixed/cooked ahead of time. I love to spend a few hours on Sundays zoning out to reality TV while chopping veggies — it saves me a ton of time later in the week when my other responsibilities pop up.
  • Incorporate essential oils into your life.
    Essential oils are derived from plants and yield a variety of health benefits! I diffuse  a mixture of lavender and peppermint in my home to help ward off headaches, and use lemongrass in the kitchen to assist with cleaning. As someone who struggles with eczema, I often use tea tree oil to relieve any inflammation after a breakout. Do your research to find out which essential oils may benefit you!

Looking for more ideas on how to improve your health in 2018? Elysium Health has compiled a helpful infographic with tips from wellness bloggers (including yours truly!), along with solutions to your diet, exercise, and sleep problems. For more information from Elysium, check out their research on NAD+ and how it can preserve our health.

Infographic from Elysium Health

What are your wellness tips for 2018? Share with us in the comments section!

Empire State of Mind: Adventures in New York

Things to Do in New York City

After spending most of my life in a state where the leaves never change colors, I decided to take an October trip to New York to experience autumn. It was my first time visiting New York as an adult — I’d gone once with my family when I was 11, and once in high school for a journalism conference. This time, I’d have full control of my itinerary and truly have the chance to explore.

Although the trip was unseasonably warm, it was a much-needed escape from my real life, and a great way to spend time with old friends and family. I was only there for a few days, and there are a lot of landmarks and museums I wish I’d had time to see on this visit, but I was able to cover a lot of ground that weekend and had a great time finding my way around the city that never sleeps. I stayed with one of my best friends in Hamilton Heights, and loved getting to know the neighborhood.

For those planning a visit to New York City, check out my suggested itinerary items below!

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Places We Visited: The Highlights

  • Bryant Park
    I started my first day at Bryant Park, a beautiful park in Midtown not far from the Empire State Building and Chrysler Building. Between the pop-up shops and the life-sized statue of Gertrude Stein, this little park offers beautiful views and plenty of people-watching. Bryant Park also has its own café and food kiosks, and hosts events and ice skating at different points in the year.
  • Federal Hall
    Located on Wall Street, Federal Hall is known as the birthplace of American government, as the site of George Washington’s inauguration and the home of our first Congress and Supreme Court. Federal Hall is free to visit and a must-see for anyone interested in the early history of the United States.
  • 9/11 Memorial
    I paid my respects at the 9/11 Memorial on my first day in New York. Visiting the twin memorial pools and seeing the names of those who died was a sobering experience, but also a powerful one. I plan to spend a day at the museum the next time I visit.
  • Storm King Art Center
    For my second day in town, we decided to spend the morning and afternoon upstate. Storm King Art Center had been a bucket list item for me for a while, and our visit did not disappoint. Being surrounded by abstract sculptures in the rolling hills was the perfect way to spend a fall day! For those visiting for the first time, I highly suggest taking a tram ride around the entire sculpture park so that you can choose which sculptures you’d like to return to.
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art
    This was my first time at The Met, but it quickly became one of my favorite museums I’ve ever visited. From George Washington’s Crossing of the Delaware to the Egyptian collections, there was so much to see that we spent an entire Sunday wandering around the museum and still weren’t able to do it all. It is definitely worth future visits!
  • The Little Red Lighthouse
    As one of the few surviving lighthouses in New York City, The Little Red Lighthouse was worth the dangerous trek off the beaten paths we took to get there! 🙂 The lighthouse is located under the George Washington Bridge and has become the inspiration for a sweet little story called The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge.

Things To Do in NYC: Storm King

 

What We Ate

  • Il Cortile Ristorante
    For my first night in New York City, my college roommates and I reunited in Little Italy to catch up over wine (!) and delicious Italian food. Il Cortile featured live music and served an amazing pumpkin gnocchi to match the season. If you’re looking for a good Italian restaurant, Il Cortile is one to try!
  • Barney Greengrass
    I couldn’t visit New York and not have a bagel at some point. Barney Greengrass is known for their bagels (and their cinnamon raisin was fantastic!), but also offers sandwiches, smoked fish platters, and so much more.
  • Hamilton’s Bakery
    We enjoyed a delicious (and Instagram-worthy) Sunday brunch at Hamilton’s Bakery. Located in Hamilton Heights near my friend’s apartment, Hamilton’s Bakery serves breakfast bowls (I enjoyed the Angelica bowl!), along with sandwiches, avocado toasts, bakery items, and much more. They also offer bottomless mimosas and sangria, if you’re looking to indulge!
  • The Chipped Cup
    This little café in Hamilton Heights quickly became my favorite coffee shop in New York. With uplifting notes on the chalkboard outside, The Chipped Cup is a cozy, relaxing place to stop before a busy day of travel. My pick? The iced blueberry tea. Check them out!

What are your favorite stops in New York? Share in the comments section below!