Tag Archives | Wellness

Whole30 Round 2 – Recap + Recipes

Whole30 Round 2 - Recap + Recipes | kaileenelise.com

Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes; but no plans.
(Peter F. Drucker)

Happy Tuesday, lovelies. How was your weekend? We stayed close to home and opted-out of the whole Halloween thing. Instead, we went for a long run on Saturday morning, visited our friends who just had a baby (so many tiny snuggles!), completed the first draft of our ceremony, and crossed a few more things off our wedding to-do list!

Today I am finishing my Whole30 Round 2. That means, over the course of this summer/fall I have followed these rules for 30 days straight, twice:

  • Do not consume added sugar of any kind, real or artificial
  • Do not consume alcohol in any form, not even for cooking
  • Do not eat grains
  • Do not eat legumes
  • Do not eat dairy
  • Do not consume carrageenan, MSG or sulfites
  • Do not try to re-create baked goods, junk foods, or treats with “approved” ingredients
  • Do not step on the scale or take body measurements during the program

In some ways, my Whole30 Round 2 was more difficult than the first. There were several occasions, especially during the last two weeks, when I wanted to give up. The second round felt less “special” and more like everyday life. The newness wore off and sticking to the rules felt more rigorous. That said, I am incredibly happy that I did not give up.

My original inspiration for starting Whole30 was to slim down for my wedding, but I also wanted to investigate this way of eating for the long-term. In my dream scenario, I hoped to discover a set of rules that I could follow every day that would help make my body feel good without squandering my love for food. And that’s what I found!

Will I stick with this 100% everyday moving forward? No, not totally. But, I do want to remain primarily grain-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, legume-free, and processed-foods-free. I have naturally settled into a preference for eating paleo (here’s what that means).

Two rounds of Whole30 have helped me build an arsenal of delicious recipes. I no longer feel like a dinner with just veggies and meat is incomplete. Here are some favorites:

In terms of alcohol, I learned that I’m perfectly fine with going out and not drinking, even to a three-day music festival. I will go back to enjoying wine and cocktails here and there, but I doubt I’ll ever be much of a beer drinker. My Whole30 weekend mornings have been a lot more pleasant without that fuzzy feeling of an almost-hangover!

Now would be the time to establish a new daily routine, but that’s not going to happen… after my first Whole30, I dove into indulgence with a 3-week trip to Europe. It was an incredible adventure, but tough on my body after eating so clean for the previous month.

This time, I am facing another uncommon situation: there’s just 18 days until our wedding! The next few weeks are going to be a far cry from ordinary, but they will be wonderful. In the midst of all the celebrations, I hope to follow this advice to myself:

  • Plan ahead. When eating out, review the menu in advance and commit to your food selection before sitting down at the restaurant. When going out for drinks, hydrate with water and switch to club soda after a few.
  • Stay active. When you exercise, it helps you maintain the motivation to make healthy choices. Remember that practicing yoga always makes you feel strong and happy, and running makes you feel accomplished. You have the time to work out every day, even if it’s just for 20 minutes.
  • Be kind. Part of this is doing what feels good. That will be staying “compliant” sometimes and “indulging” other times.  Either way, being kind means not judging yourself harshly. And on judging, watch your negativity. Wrap your gremlins and nasty thoughts with a warm blanket of love and kindness.

If you would like to learn more about my Whole30 journey, check out my recaps from round 1 day 12, round 1 day 26, and round 2 day 11. You can also follow me on Instagram where I’ve been posting a lot of food pics: @kaileenelise.

Are you thinking this might be something you want to try? I say, go for it! You can do anything for 30 days, especially if it makes you feel good. I highly recommend visiting the Whole30 website and reading It Starts With Food for more information.

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Whole30 Round 2 – Day 11

Whole30 Round 2 - Day 11 | kaileenelise.com

Stay close to any sounds that make you glad you are alive.
(Hafiz)

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a complicated relationship with food. I love it, I hate it, I feel like I deserve it. Completing the first round of Whole30 helped me embrace a more simple, less fussy approach. I ate real food, stopped counting calories, stopped weighing myself. (Here are my recaps from day 12 and day 26.)

Whole30 worked for me. More than any other diet, approach, or way of thinking about food has. Even as a collegiate athlete, I didn’t fuel my body like this. The results from my first round were nice too! My before and after pictures surprised me. (I really didn’t want to take before pics, but I’m glad I did).

With that said, my reintroduction was challenging. I added everything back into my diet all at once, while traveling through Europe for 3 weeks. My Mister and I had an incredible trip, and we ate and drank with abandon!

Intellectually, I wanted to enjoy every facet of the trip, especially the food! Emotionally, I felt like each unhealthy choice erased the progress I made in the past 30 days. It was a struggle to “just enjoy” the unique food, drink, and experiences at our fingertips. But, since my relationship with food is complicated and we went to a bunch of amazing restaurants, I ate it all anyways.

I haven’t uncovered the lesson in that experience yet. One thing I have come to realize is that it’s impossible to erase the past. Maybe the “fix” then is to focus on being fully present in this moment… rather than worrying about what was or will be. That thought is much bigger than food, but I think it applies.

When we arrived home, I was eager to start a new Whole30! This time I’m doing it for 6 weeks, which leads right up to the week before my wedding. Today is day #11 of my round 2.

I am feeling… much better! Cutting out grains, dairy, added sugar, and alcohol is a magical reset for me. The first few days were rough, especially because we went to a music festival this past weekend. I was ok without drinking alcohol, but my food options were limited. However, my anxiety about what it would be like turned out to be much worse than the actual experience. Once the music was playing, I was dancing and having fun like everyone else. With 10 days behind me, I am humming along and feeling good. It’s so nice!

I have been eating… simple breakfasts with blended coffees, followed by easy salads for lunch. For two nights, we devoured a spicy version of this Mexican Chicken Chili. And for other dinners, I have been pairing a protein with two veggies. I have a few favorite go-to “recipes” for cooking up the basics. My top three are: baked sweet potato, roasted butternut squash, and sautéed kale. I’m excited to cook up some slow cooker chicken curry for tonight and plan to serve it over spicy roasted cauliflower.

I have been loving… the kind and supportive Instagram community that I’ve fallen into. Seriously, the best! It’s so fun to get new ideas from others eating this way. I have also enjoyed connecting with some people who are curious or interested in Whole30.

I am thinking about… adding a few more things to the mix, like: giving up caffeine for awhile, working out more often, and increasing my water intake. I am also thinking about how I can integrate this way of eating with my normal life. What does that look like? How can I make choices I feel good about when I’m at restaurants, eating with friends, etc?

So, tell me, would you experiment with a Whole30? If you have tried it or are doing it now, let me know. I would love to connect about what has worked or not worked for you, and share some more of my experience with you!

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Day 26 Whole30 Check-In

Whole30 Check-In | kaileenelise.com - image via Death to the Stock Photo

Focus on the journey, not the destination.
Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.
(Greg Anderson)

I’ve reached the home stretch of my first Whole30. I am feeling happy and healthy, plus a little relieved and nervous.

Happy because I am doing it – no slip-ups, no excuses, no cheats, no major meltdowns. I am establishing new thought-patterns and letting go of habits that haven’t worked in the past. Happy because my clothes fit better. Happy because I feel good. Happy because I’ve had fun discovering recipes that will be great for meal plans even after the Whole30.

Healthy because I am fueling my body with whole foods. I’ve been drinking tons of water and no alcohol. I’m tired when it’s time for bed and up in the mornings when it’s time to wake up. Healthy because working out has felt like a natural extension of this new eating routine. Healthy because I am listening to my body and taking great care of myself.

Relieved because the end is near. It will feel luxurious to have a glass of wine with dinner, and it will feel nice to have a nibble of chocolate after. It Starts With Food (the book companion to Whole30) offers a full re-introduction to normal foods plan… that I will follow another time. My last day of Whole30 coincides with our departure for a 3-week trip to Europe. I’ll be navigating my re-entry carefully and swiftly.

Nervous because I’ll be diving from this extremely restrictive diet to dinners out and meals on the road. Nervous (and excited) to weigh myself — my reflection in the mirror looks stronger, more lean and toned. I am not going to tie any measure of success to my weight, but a girl gets curious after 26 days of hard work!

A few things that have made this Whole30 easier on me:

  • Working from home. I was talking to my Mister about how this hasn’t been that hard. He gently reminded me that working from home has helped me avoid break-room candy, office happy hours, and monthly birthday cake. If I were doing Whole30 from my old job, my resolve might have been tested more.
  • Empathetic friends. Last Friday, our friends invited us over for dinner. They prepared a Whole30 approved meal… including mock piña coladas that were sugar free. We stayed out way later than planned because it was such an amazing night!
  • Being a former vegetarian. These days I have no qualms about eating organic and pastured meats. My past life as a vegetarian helped me feel comfortable with being the weird one at a table, and it gave me a fondness for most veggies.

This experience has taught me that I don’t need to eat everything. I can decline, pick and choose, and eat based on my hunger.

I am hoping to remember this feeling: I will not “lose out” if I don’t eat every macaroon in Paris. All I need is one (or two!) for the experience. This realization is freeing… but scary. The thought that usually plays over and over in my mind is “I deserve that.” Now I know that I deserve to feel good, happy, and heathy… and no sweet treat can give that to me.

Don’t get me wrong, I will indulge again. I just plan to be more intentional and honest with myself about what I’m eating. In It Starts with Food, the authors say that food is either good for you or bad for you. There is no middle, gray part where food is neutral. This black and white explanation has been helpful. When I eat “bad for me” foods, I plan to acknowledge it as such and savor the treat… instead of dreaming about eating ten more!

I am already planning my next Whole30 for when we’re back from Europe. For now, I’m enjoying these last days of the program before we take off on our adventure.

If you are interested in Whole30, check out their website and pick up a copy of It Starts With Food — it’s a great read for anyone who is looking for a fresh perspective on heathy eating.

Image via Death to the Stock Photo

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Day 12 Whole30 Check-In

Whole30 Check-In | kaileenelise.com - image via Death to the Stock Photo

The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things.
(Henry Ward Beecher)

Today is day #12 of my Whole30, which means that I am nearly halfway there. I started this on the heels of our visit to North Carolina, which was perfect timing. By the end of the trip, I was ready to eat healthy and take a break from indulgences.

What is Whole30? It’s a 30-day healthy eating program with simple, but impactful rules. Participants eat real foods and omit a list of unhealthy things from their diets, including: alcohol, added sugar, dairy, legumes, and grains. Their website is great, and I am really enjoying the book that corresponds with the program — It Starts with Food.

I did something similar back in 2012 with the Whole Living Action Plan (you can read my weekly summaries here). It was in January, so the post-holiday and New Year’s resolution season was extra motivating. I learned how to cook new recipes, lost some weight, and enjoyed it overall.

Thinking back on that experience gave me the confidence to try the Whole30. Cutting things out of my diet is not an issue, but going 4 weeks without alcohol or any added sugar is a challenge in the summer. There are plenty of occasions to grab a drink and celebrate the season with friends!

Now that a few days are behind me, I wanted to share some reflections and strategies for Whole30. My first week went by quickly and with very few cravings or frustrations. I planned our meals for the week so we could avoid eating out. When our friends asked us to drinks on Saturday night, I ordered soda water with lime and ended up having a blast.

Things took a turn for the cranky by Sunday (day #8) and the beginning of this week was rough. I noticed that it was less about what I couldn’t eat and more about losing some of my food coping mechanisms. When I wanted to chill out at the end of a long day, a glass of sparkling water was all I had to drink (red wine would have tasted so much better). When my Mister and I wanted to treat ourselves with something sweet, we settled on organic cashews instead.

In addition to changes in diet, there is one more rule for Whole30: you’re not allowed to weigh yourself during the program. This one has been hard for me because I typically use my weight as a baseline and check-in. Not having this measurement has pushed me to consider how I’m feeling, rather than relying on a number on the scale to tell me if I’m “ok.”

A few things I’m loving while on Whole30:

  • Chamelon Cold-Brew + black coffee – so simple, so tasty.
  • Harmless Harvest coconut water – a delicious 8oz break from water.
  • Burning candles, listening to an awesome audio book, and laying by the pool – a girl can find moments of bliss without wine, cheese, or chocolate.
  • Yoga – it’s been so hot here in Austin, so I haven’t felt like running lately. Going to yoga helps me refocus and refresh.

Some Whole30 approved dinners on our meal plan:

  • Spicy Oven Baked Salmon from A Spicy Perspective – this is a new household favorite! So quick, easy, and tasty!
  • Hatch Chile Casserole from Fed and Fit – my Mister was shocked at how creamy and rich this was without any dairy. I might tweak it next time, but I’m definitely adding it to the regular rotation.
  • Creole Chicken & Sausage from Pinch of Yum – we served this over baked sweet potatoes. It was a nice and hearty meal.

Looking ahead:

I am a little excited that we don’t have much planned for Labor Day weekend. We have already traveled a lot this summer and are leaving for Europe in a few weeks. It will be nice to stick around here and finish some projects. I’m looking for a few new recipes to try and am planning on keeping myself occupied with blogging and other fun things (instead of wishing for a bite of chocolate)!

Have you done a Whole30? If so, please share your advice in the comments below. If not, let me know if you’d ever want to give it a try?

Image via Death to the Stock Photo

This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click + purchase I will receive a small commission. Thank you for reading & supporting An Extraordinary Adventure!

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Whenever You Are Ready

Whenever You're Ready - image via Brian Wolfe on Flickr | kaileenelise.com

Be a lamp to yourself. Be your own confidence.
Hold on to the truth within yourself as to the only truth.
(Buddha)

In early 2012, I applied for a yoga teacher training program. The year before, I lost my job and interviewed for a position with lululemon. I made some friends through the interview process, and one of them encouraged me to consider teacher training. It felt like a good idea at the time. My Mister was in business school, busy with group projects and classes. Teacher training could be “my thing” and at least a way to deepen my yoga practice.

In my application I wrote,

Growing up, I was a nationally competitive swimmer and earned a college scholarship to UNLV – the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. In high school I coached and taught swim lessons during the summer, and in college I pursued a degree in Elementary Education. I have always valued the relationship between student and teacher/coach/mentor. And I have developed a strong interest in wellness through the past few years.

I want to become a yoga teacher so I can combine my passion for healthy living with my natural abilities as a teacher and my innate desire to learn something new every day.

It’s strange to read these words now. The first paragraph is 100% true and close to how I’d describe myself today. The second paragraph is half-true. I do have a passion for healthy, happy living. I am not sure if I wanted to be a yoga teacher. I wanted to learn what my teachers knew and become better at yoga.

I herniated a disc in my lower back right before the teacher training program began. Weeks after starting, I had to drop out to have surgery and focus on healing. I re-started the 200 training in January of 2013, and by then I knew my Mister and I would have to move away from North Carolina (and my home studio) at the end of it. I was out of shape, unsure of what the future would hold, and a huge part of me wanted out of the program altogether.

There are decisions we make that seem right at the time, but less so down the road. That’s how this felt.

It was a huge time commitment, and it was demanding work. As someone who has a tendency towards an all-or-nothing attitude, I often felt as if it would be better to give up. I studied and practiced enough to get by. My personal yoga practice was wobbly and I was in constant fear of re-injuring myself. I was not ready, but carried on anyway.

Along the way I decided that teaching was not for me. I was nervous speaking in front of class, but not in the energizing sort of way. I felt like a fraud, and I wondered if the other students and my teacher could see through me.

I learned about anatomy, the history of yoga, and a specific sequence of poses. I bought a lot of books during the program and half-read a few of them. I enjoyed being part of the community, I also felt like an outsider. We did a fair amount of emotional work on ourselves, and I questioned if I was ready.

Later that summer, we moved to Austin. I had a few observation papers to write before finishing the program, which pushed me to explore some local yoga studios. I found an amazing one just a few blocks from my apartment and I’ve been a member ever since. I hoped to get stronger and more confident in my own body.

I wish I could go back and tell that sad, out of shape, and lonely girl that, “It’s OK, I’m OK, Everything is OK.”

In the past year, I have practiced more yoga than ever before. I have spurts when I go to class for 5 days in a row, and I try to go at least twice a week. My practice is more steady, I am stronger, and more confident in my body.

I remind myself of this story, and I share it with you, to say that we aren’t always ready — and that is ok. Even when we’re the one who signs ourselves up for something, we aren’t always ready. That is ok.

Whether you are ready or not, everything unfolds exactly the way it’s supposed to. You might not use what you have learned immediately. You might question why you learned it in the first place. But the information will be there for whenever you are ready.

Image via Brian Wolfe on Flickr

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Good Eats & Gratitude – Recipe Lust List

image :: eggplant risotto

Cooking is like love, it should be entered into with abandon or not at all.
(Harriet Van Horne)

image :: asparagus fries

In spite of food fads, fitness programs, and health concerns,
we must never lose sight of a beautifully conceived meal.
(Julia Child)

image :: pomegranate + kale orzo

One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.
(Virginia Woolf)

Hello lovelies! How is your week wrapping up? I’m recovering from a wonderfully eventful Saturday. I went for a 6-mile run in the morning and then enjoyed a night out in Chapel Hill with my Mister and some friends. Today I’m planning to do my Barre3 DVD, go to the grocery store, and treat myself with a trip to the mall.

I have spent a ton of time in the kitchen since completing Whole Living’s cleanse last month. I am trying to find the space between maintaining my focus and making smart choices while living this busy, social and (sometimes) stressful life. It’s a process.

My latest obsession is finding new recipes. Here are a few gems on my Recipe Lust list:

Baked Asparagus Fries
Pomegranate + Kale Orzo
Triple Chocolate Black Bean Brownies
Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Barbecue Chickpea Pizza
Orange Blossom Cupcake with Cashew Cream
Eggplant and Meyer Lemon Risotto
Farro Risotto with Acorn Squash and Kale
Apricot Coconut Energy Bars
Black Bean, Sweet Potato & Quinoa Chili
Vegan Peanut Butter Cup Shake 

Taking the time to prepare healthy and delicious meals is a gift I can give myself. It’s self-care wrapped in gratitude for this body and all it allows me to do. These last several weeks have been eyeopening — I am discovering a new hobby and realizing a new passion.

I am so grateful to have found such incredible inspiration through the blogs, magazines and books that resonate with where I am today. What recipes are on your to-make list? Do you have any favorite resources that motivate your healthy-living goals? Share your suggestions in the comments below!

Image Credits:
Eggplant Risotto via Turntable Kitchen
Asparagus Fries via Spoon Fork Bacon
Pomegranate + Kale Orzo via Happyoks

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Good Eats & Gratitude – #WLActionPlan Week 4

Image :: 316/365 - Third World Baby

Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go.
(William Feather)

It can be awkward or downright scary to break free from comfort zones, but it can also be energizing to try something new. Making sweeping changes or small alterations to our lives lifts us out of ruts. New experiences have the potential to reveal pieces of ourselves that would otherwise go unnoticed. This how I feel about my experience with Whole Living’s 2012 Action Plan.

It was disorienting and difficult at times, but what I gained in return was worth every ounce of sacrifice. Eliminating processed food and drinks, added sugar, dairy, gluten, caffeine, and alcohol from my diet for 4 weeks was eye-opening. I discovered juicing, learned a bunch of new recipes, and started working out regularly.

Week #4 Highlights:

  • Making it! I proved that I can achieve an ambitious goal I set for myself.
  • Five workouts strong. That’s two weeks in a row and I’m excited to keep it up.
  • Spa day celebration. On Sunday I indulged in a massage + mani pedi. Bliss!

Favorite Meals:

They say it takes 21 days to establish a new habit. Over the next three weeks I hope to incorporate what I’ve learned into sustainable, healthy habits for my everyday life. Specifically, I’m planning to maintain a diet that is 90% vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, and low in processed foods and added sugar.

Thanks to all of you who have shared your wisdom and support through these past few weeks. It definitely helped keep me motivated!

Whole Living Action Plan Recap Posts:
Week #1 / Week #2 / Week #3

Image Credit: 316/365 – Third World Baby via Helga Weber

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Good Eats & Gratitude – #WLActionPlan Week 3

image :: Blueberries

Each moment of our life, we either invoke or destroy our dreams.
(Stuart Wilde)

Hello, sweet friends. I hope this finds you happy, healthy and enjoying the last full week in January. 2012 is off to a delightful start — a perfect blend of focus and downtime, with lots of new discoveries. With just a week left, I’m working diligently on my goals for January. This iPhone wallpaper is a constant reminder of my focus for the month.

image :: iphone4_jan2012

My biggest challenge has been the reallocation of time. With the Whole Living Action Plan, I’m spending more time planning meals, grocery shopping, cooking, and cleaning dishes than ever before. It was a little tedious and foreign at first, but I’m getting the hang of things. And more importantly, I’m having a blast!

I’ve noticed an important shift this past week — a connection between healthy eating and wanting to workout. This is a new development I’m trying to cultivate. Eating clean reinforces my desire to get fit, and finishing a hard workout cements my hunger for nutritious food. I’m doing my best to recognize the tiny victory.

Week #3 Highlights:

  • Keeping my cool. I craved coffee, chocolate and red wine this week, but reisted. My resolve was not this strong a few months ago.
  • Working out 5 times. I also signed up for the Run Raleigh Half Marathon in April!
  • Poaching an egg. I can’t believe I have lived 26 years without poaching an egg! Using Smitten Kitchen’s instructions, I hatched a delicious poached egg on my first try.
  • Date night. On Saturday night, my Mister and I went to PF Chang’s for dinner. I order the steamed salmon off their gluten-free menu and it was delicious! Afterwards, we watched Ides of March and snuggled in bed. It was definitely a highlight of my week.

Favorite Meals:

There’s just one more week left in the #WLActionPlan and I have a massage scheduled on Sunday to celebrate. Next month will present a new set of challenges when I return to my social ways, but overall I’m looking forward to incorporating these changes into my everyday routine.

Have you successfully transitioned from a strict program to a more realistic daily routine? I’d love to know about your experience and any tips or recommendations you have!

Image Credit: Blueberries via Chris Nixon / S u l a v a k a s via Pörrö

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Good Eats & Gratitude – #WLActionPlan Week 2

image :: 164 / 365 - I've got the brightest star you'll ever find

Belief in yourself and in the possibility of success
is the most important requirement for living an extraordinary life.
Believe in belief.
Believe in yourself and the best of the world will come to you,
and you will be prepared to receive it. Don’t sell yourself short.
You do not require permission to be extraordinary.
(Richard Quick)

Hello, lovelies! I hope you’ve had a delightful weekend. Thanks so much to those of you who left helpful and supportive comments on my last few posts. It’s great to know that I’m not the only one craving solitude in January.

Since starting the Whole Living Action Plan last week, I’ve noticed how seldom I acknowledge daily victories. Small, quiet steps go ignored while I look towards the finish line and hold off on uncorking the metaphoric bubbly. Do you struggle with the same? Tiny triumphs are critical building blocks—each one a glittering, golden brick worth celebrating.

“You can do this. You are doing this,” I remind myself over and over. Changing patterns, adjusting priorities, and establishing new habits can be disorienting. Until we are practiced and comfortable in our new way of doing things, the old way just feels best. Maybe that’s one reason why so many people drop the ball on their resolutions.

I’ve held onto my intentions and stuck with the #WLActionPlan through this week, but not without sacrifice. I’m laying low and spending a lot of time in the kitchen. And even though the alarm goes off at 5 am, I’m not relying on 3 cups of coffee and 2 shots of espresso to get me through the day. When my energy dips around 3 pm, I am no longer leaning on a bag of mini M&Ms to revive me.

Instead, I’m drinking tons of water and herbal DAVIDsTEA (which I love!) and snacking on kale chips or pomegranate seeds. A change is unfolding. I feel vibrant, happy and connected. This week I got back to working out, with 4 days of Barre3’s DVD in the mornings before work and 3.5 miles run/walk on Saturday. This morning, I went to the lululemon store in Raleigh for a goal-setting session followed by a complimentary yoga class.

Changing my priorities has meant less time with my Mister—and certainly less time for flipping through magazines, painting my nails, and general lounging around. The upside is that I’m in a much better mood and am excited (instead of feeling guilty) when I do find some time to chill.

Week #2 Highlights:

  • Listening to my body. This process has brought me a new level of awareness when it comes to hunger and mood. I’m learning to cope with the ups and downs of the day without sugary snacks or surges of caffeine.
  • Getting a new package from DAVIDsTEA in the mail! So far my favorites are Forever Nuts, Licorice Twist, Jessie’s Tea and Organic Peppermint Amour.
  • Losing a little weight. The number on the scale has dropped some and my clothes are starting to feel a bit too big… I can see a shopping trip for new jeans in my future.
  • Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns). I bought Mindy Kaling’s audiobook to listen to on my commute (she reads it herself—so cool!). It’s funny, inspiring and down-to-earth.

Favorite Meals:

I’m grateful to be in a place (emotionally, financially and otherwise) that allows me to pursue these dietary and fitness changes. Just a few months ago, this would have been too much to take on. It’s as if the stage was set and ready for me to step up. It’s an incredible feeling. Even though I think I could do this on my own, my Mister has been a huge help. He even got up with me this morning to hit up Whole Foods at 7 am so I could get all my grocery shopping done before yoga (I’m a slow shopper and he helps me stay on task).

I’m looking forward to seeing where week #3 will take me. I hope you find yourself happy, healthy and fulfilled this week. If you’re looking for a pick-me-up, I recommend doing something that lights you up. Go to a local tea shop, buy an inspiring magazine, get a manicure, or do some yoga. I’ll be working to do the same!

Image Credit: 164 / 365 – I’ve got the brightest star you’ll ever find via Noukka Signe

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12 Intentions for 2012

image :: my work desk

If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track
that has been there all the while, waiting for you,
and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living.
When you can see that, you begin to meet people
who are in your field of bliss, and they open doors to you.
I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and
doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.
(Joseph Campbell)

This fall, I will be celebrating my blog’s 3-year anniversary. Three years of showing up, sharing inspiration and connecting with more creative souls than I ever imagined possible.

The keys to a happy blogger? Make a plan, set realistic expectations, write as often as you can, and believe in a little magic. Then wait to see what happens next.

My intentions for this year and KaileenElise.com are one in the same. I plan to focus my energy on living a healthy, active life. I want to blog regularly, but without the pressure and pace of posting daily. I have a content map, plus a long-term strategy and short-term goals. I’m giddy about what’s next—eager to curate links, quotes and images that will inspire you.

I’m quite fond of outlines, lists and game plans. Knowing this, I identified 12 intentions for 2012. Guideposts for this journey, touchstones threaded through each month. Overall, this year is about focus and heart…with a touch of sparkle!

image :: 12 Intentions for 2012 - Kaileen Elise

Hat tip to Lifestylista Monica McCarthy for the wonderful idea of compiling a vision board of sorts for 2012 intentions. I love how mine turned out. It’s going straight to my desktop—and I plan to create mini versions for my iPhone each month.

Have you done something like this for your blog? I’ve never sat down and thought an entire year through like this, so I’d love to know more about your experience!

Image Credits: My Work Desk via DeaPeaJay
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