March 2019: Happiness Project Recap

Happy April, friends, and welcome to spring! I’m excited to begin a new month and a fresh start, as March ended on a heavy note for my family and me. Keeping up with the blog was more of a challenge in March, but I’m looking forward to bringing you some fun new content and sharing some happier adventures with all of you.

Speaking of happiness, I haven’t forgotten about my happiness project! As I mentioned in my earlier posts, January’s focus was on boosting physical wellness (which I successfully did!), while February’s theme was creating outer order through decluttering my home and life (which I also did!). I had high hopes for the month of March, which was focused on practicing mindfulness, and planned to incorporate the following daily goals:

  • Write down the happiest moment of my day.
  • Meditate and use positive affirmations.
  • Turn complaints into happiness.
  • Create my list of personal commandments (and follow them).
  • Practice 4-7-8 breathing techniques.

March 2019: Happiness Project Update | Wellness & Wanderlust

I used my resolution chart as always, but this time around, I had trouble keeping up. Although I included a lot of tried-and-true practices in my happiness project last month, I quickly learned that you can’t put mindfulness on your to-do list. As someone who is very task-oriented, I found it much harder to make time for meditation and incorporate breathing techniques into my every day.

In February, it was easy to squeeze in 10 minutes to de-clutter if I hadn’t done it already, but getting into the right mindset to meditate (or even remember to meditate!) was a lot more challenging for me. I did practice 4-7-8 breathing techniques when possible, and while I still struggle with this particular tenet of happiness, I find myself focusing on my breathing a whole lot more. I also did a fairly good job of turning complaints into happiness when it came to the little things, but once I began focusing on the larger themes of unhappiness in my life, it became a lot harder to look at the positive.

March 2019: Happiness Project Update | Wellness & Wanderlust

My favorite aspect of Month 3 was writing down the happiest moment of my day. Admittedly, I wasn’t always perfect about physically writing it down (maybe closer to 50/50), but I often found myself reflecting on even the hardest days and thinking about the moments that didn’t suck. Often on the bad days, there were still some pretty great things that happened, and when I was able to remember those specific examples, I ended the day on a much happier note.

The month of March taught me something important: I need to slow down. When I make the time to meditate, even for only a few minutes a day, I feel better. When I take deep breaths, my brain does a much better job of focusing. Writing down my happiest moment allows me to take control of how I end my day, and it gives me the ability to decide for myself – was it a good day, or was it a bad day? I will make an effort to focus on these practices in April at my own pace, incorporating them over time rather than merely squeezing them into my schedule.

For the month of April, my theme is to Slow Down and Lighten Up. This month was somewhat inspired by The Book of Hygge, which focuses on contentment and comfort, but also incorporates a lot of other practices I really need to follow:

  • Enjoy a hot cup of tea in the morning.
  • Light candles or diffuse essential oils after work.
  • Underreact to a problem.
  • Take time to be silly.
  • Laugh out loud.

What goals are you working toward? Are you doing a happiness project? Sound off in the comments below!

February 2019: Happiness Project Recap

As I mentioned in last night’s post, it feels like February was over just as quickly as it began! It has been a whirlwind of a month, but I’m proud to share that my happiness project is still going strong.

In January, I focused on boosting physical wellnessand a lot of those habits carried over into February. Although no longer on Whole30, I’ve been eating more mindfully and  continuing to see a difference in how I feel (along with how my clothes fit!). The concept of tackling the nagging tasks was a huge part of my February as well. By facing those annoying little to-dos head on, just a few at a time, I have alleviated a lot of anxiety and now feel way more capable of #adulting.

My theme for the month of February was creating outer order by decluttering both my home and (on a much grander scale) my life. To do that, I incorporated the following daily goals:

  • Follow the one-minute rule. (If it can be done in less than one minute, do it right away.)
  • Spend 10 minutes tidying up before bed.
  • Beware of freebies.
  • Spend time each day de-cluttering problem areas of the house.
  • Tackle the nagging tasks.

Of course, I brought back my handy resolution chart and broke out the stickers.

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How did I do this month? Well, my friends, I think I did great! 🙂 Following the one-minute rule made me much more productive and allowed me not to let the little things fall to the wayside. In addition, spending just 10 minutes to tidy up before bed took a huge strain off of me in the mornings. Nearly every night, I set a timer for 10 minutes, and used that time to wash any pots and pans in the sink, put things away, and tidy up anything I’d left out in the kitchen or living room. My apartment is still not where I want it to be, but at any given time, it is significantly tidier than it was a month ago.

A strong focus of mine was on de-cluttering the problem areas of my apartment. At the end of 2018, I dreaded returning from the holidays because of all of the clutter. Over the years, I’ve accumulated so much junk, bought clothes in nearly every size through weight fluctuations, inherited unwanted items from former roommates, and more. I had two closets completely filled to the brim, drawers that wouldn’t close, and no rhyme or reason to where my stuff was placed.

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I hadn’t realized until then that my clutter was truly a source of unhappiness for me, so I knew that would have to be a major focus for 2019. Although I still have a ways to go, I’m pleased to share that I have organized both closets, my guest bathroom, my dresser, nightstands, and a few other areas of the apartment. I now have logical places for things to go, and am confident that soon I will even have a few empty drawers and shelves. Hallelujah! 🙂 In my line of work, I come across a lot of freebies at events, so avoiding freebies was another way to keep the clutter levels down.

For the month of March, my theme is Practicing Mindfulness by implementing the following goals:

  • Write down the happiest moment of my day.
  • Meditate and use positive affirmations.
  • Turn complaints into happiness.
  • Create my list of personal commandments (and follow them).
  • Practice 4-7-8 breathing techniques.

What goals are you working toward? Are you doing a happiness project? Sound off in the comments below!

January 2019: Happiness Project Recap

That’s it, folks — the first month of 2019 has officially reached its end. Can you believe it? My January has certainly been a rollercoaster, but thanks to my happiness project, I will leave this month feeling better than when I started it.

At the end of 2018, I was completely exhausted. Between autoimmune issues, a busier than usual workload, and some difficult situations outside of my control, I needed a break — and an attitude adjustment. As part of my happiness project, my theme for the month of January was to boost physical wellnessTo do that, I incorporated the following five daily goals:

  • Embark on a Whole30 to create more intentionality in my food choices and identify any new food sensitivities.
  • Go to sleep earlier.
  • Take a 10-minute walk each day.
  • Act more energetic.
  • Tackle the “nagging tasks” on my list.

Inspired by The Happiness Project author Gretchen Rubin, I created a resolution chart, giving myself a gold star each day for the goals I accomplished.

Happiness Project Resolution Chart

So how did I do? Well, as can be expected, I fared better in some categories than others. Through my Whole30, I consistently ate nourishing, real foods, while detoxing myself from some of the junk food that my body doesn’t agree with. I managed to lose 10 pounds, clear up my skin, stop getting daily headaches, and decrease overall inflammation.

Acting more energetic allowed me to fake it till I made it on the days when I just didn’t think I had it in me, and I really started to feel more energetic after doing that. The other thing that massively boosted my energy levels was tackling the nagging tasks. 

Happiness Project Resolution Chart

By “nagging tasks,” I’m referring to those pesky but necessary to-do’s in the back of your mind that you don’t particularly want to do but will benefit you in the long run. I always feel like I have a lot of little things that I need to do but don’t have time for, so at the beginning of the year, I made a list of all of those items in an Evernote. Then, each week, I picked a few of those items that absolutely needed to get done, and wrote them down on my dry-erase board on the fridge. Tackling those nagging tasks made a huge difference in my anxiety levels and overall happiness, and I’m excited to bring this goal back into the month of February.

Of course, nobody is perfect, and I did struggle to get those daily walks in (it’s been so chilly out!) and get to bed at a decent hour. These are both areas I need to prioritize in the days to come.

Tomorrow begins the month of February, and this month’s theme is Creating Outer OrderI’m excited to create a life that sparks joy (thanks, Marie Kondo!) and will be implementing the following goals:

  • Follow the one-minute rule. (If it can be done in less than one minute, do it right away.)
  • Spend 10 minutes tidying up before bed.
  • Beware of freebies.
  • Spend time each day de-cluttering problem areas of the house.
  • Tackle the nagging tasks. (It was so effective that I decided to bring it back!)

What goals are you working toward? Are you doing a happiness project? Sound off in the comments 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!

Adventures in Florida: Be a “Resolutionary”

I stopped by the East End Market in Orlando a few weeks back as part of my 25 at 25 Bucket List Challenge. Ever since it opened back in 2013, I have heard great things about the market’s merchants and cool, artsy atmosphere. When I turned 25, I decided that a visit to the market was a must.

East End Market

For my first visit, I decided to check out one of the East End Market’s classes — and my selection did not disappoint. My friend Beth and I attended an expo event called Be A Resolutionary!, which provided free classes throughout the morning and early afternoon. The classes were mainly centered on health and wellness, and were designed for those hoping to stick to their New Year’s resolutions (hence the name “resolutionary”). 🙂

We started with an hour-long barre class. I’m no stranger to yoga or pilates, but this class kicked my butt! I learned that it’s a great way to work out those small muscles you don’t usually focus on, but maybe not the best exercise option if you haven’t worked out in a while. (I could barely walk for the next few days!) Still, it was a fun experience — the energy was upbeat and positive, and there were modifications for all comfort levels. (I just happen to be stubborn and don’t always modify my exercises when I should.)

After the class, we hobbled over to the courtyard for the first presentation of the day. “How To Live, Love and Move” by Nikki Blanton from Our Sole Intent was a great reminder of the importance of movement throughout the day, and she focused on the power of connection through your body, your heart and the Earth. The presentation also piqued my interest in essential oils, which I’ll be attending another seminar on later today!

Skyebird Juice Bar | East End Market

After the presentation, we popped into Skyebird’s Juice Bar for smoothies. I tried Skye’s Fave, a mix of almond milk, kale, banana, blueberries and chia seeds, and it was a delicious pick-me-up! We loved our smoothies and appreciated the Mason jars they came in, which we were able to keep. The juice/smoothie bar is vegetarian and vegan — perfect for those trying to avoid dairy, which can be difficult at a lot of smoothie places.

We visited two other presentations throughout the day as well. “Greening Up Your Home,” hosted by Porch Therapy, focused on the health benefits of having plants in your home. As someone with a lot of allergies and a not-so-great immune system, this was definitely something that appealed to me. I had no idea that there could be so many toxic chemicals like formaldehyde in our homes, or that indoor plants could make you both happier and healthier. A houseplant will be one of my next purchases, and I’m excited to learn how to care for it!

We ended the day with “Resolve to Eat Healthy” with Dr. Samadhi Artemisa. I really enjoyed her food demo (I had never tried a kumquat before!) and learning about heirloom plants and the importance of eating locally. Her presentation definitely encouraged me to start looking for local farmer’s markets to get the most nutritional bang for my buck, and I was excited to learn more about how to keep my body healthy.

Overall, we had a fantastic time at the East End Market, and I’m looking forward to my next visit! 🙂

Readers, have you ever taken a class at the East End Market? What are your bucket list goals for the year? Share in the comments section below!

Link Love THURSDAY: Happy New Year!

happy-new-yearYup, you read the title correctly – today has turned into a special Link Love Thursday! (It is very possible that I fell asleep very early on Wednesday after taking antihistamines for my horrible allergies…) I hope everyone had a fabulous new year and is enjoying everything 2014 has to offer. This week, I bring you a few new year-related articles, along with some sweet links that will make you smile.

Enjoy! 🙂

Have you read any great articles lately?

Your Health in Action: 5 Healthy Recipes to Try in 2013

stock-photo-healthy-diet-fresh-food-in-a-paper-bag-110601509For many of us, a new year provides the chance to reinvent ourselves. This can take place in a number of ways – through a more presentable appearance, a brand new hobby, a switch in career or even a change in overall health. Last semester, I began spending more time in the kitchen to prepare more nutritious meals for myself (instead of resorting to my typical trips to McDonald’s and Asian Chao during breaks from work and class). However, because my culinary skills are extremely limited and uncreative, I wound up resorting to sites like Pinterest to find easy-to-make, delicious meals.

To help each of you on your way to healthier living, I would like to share links to five of the successful recipes I have tested out. Post links to your favorite healthy recipes or food blogs in the comments section below, and feel free to follow me on Pinterest for more ideas!

The Weekend Five: Healthy Recipes to Try in 2013

1. Popcorn Broccoli (link to video).
This recipe, posted by Dani Spies of Clean & Delicious, is great for those looking for a yummy side dish with a lot of flavor. If you’re anything like me and you’re looking for a healthy way to curb salt cravings, this recipe is for you. I have made the popcorn broccoli as a side dish several times, and it’s always a big hit with friends and family. Roasting the broccoli in the oven brings out the taste and gives it a bit of a crunch.

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cheesey-chicken-and-rice-bake-cropped-410x3072. Cheesy Chicken and Rice Bake (link to recipe).
My mom baked this casserole, posted on Tasty Kitchen, just a few weeks ago, and my family loved it. This one is packed with delicious ingredients, but replaces a lot of the bad stuff with healthier alternatives. It’s also pretty convenient to put away and reheat as leftovers, and can last you a long time.

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3. Garbanzo and Rice Salad (link to recipe).A few of my coworkers like to make fun of me for this one, because it happens to be one of my go-to lunches when I need something filling and easy to pack! For my own purposes, I’ve altered Fat Secret‘s directions a bit by replacing the rice with quinoa, taking out the tomatoes (I’m not a tomato person) and adding olive oil to the mix. Another way to add flavor to the recipe is to use a pre-chopped tri-color pack of bell peppers so that you aren’t limited to just one. This salad takes about five minutes to make and tastes best cold.

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742b3f66-5a90-4f49-85ca-9fee0d396b2a4. Oatmeal Banana Bakes (link to recipe).
This one is becoming another favorite among my friends, and most of the ingredients will likely already be in your kitchen. These cookies are mainly a mix of banana, oatmeal, apples and cinnamon, and have a lot of natural sweetness already. The first time I made these, I used about half of the sweetener that the recipe called for, and the second time, I used only a quarter of it. Incredibly easy to make – and addictive too!

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5. Healthy Baked Falafel (link to recipe).
Ever since my trip to Israel in 2011, I have been a big fan of falafel (fried chickpeas, more or less), which is a very common food there. However, because of its fried nature, falafel isn’t exactly the healthiest food on the planet. I was determined to find a more nutritious version of this Middle Eastern staple, and was very excited to find one on The Picky Eater. The ingredients are good for you, and the site offers a gluten free version as well. The falafel is baked instead of fried, but equally fantastic. I have cooked these up for guests before, and served with all the popular toppings!

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What are some of your favorite healthy recipes/recipe blogs? What are you doing to stay healthy in 2013?