holidaze

It’s just the first week of December and we’ve already experienced a massive ice storm (everything covered in inches of ice, branches everywhere, and even trees broken in half!), some snow, a sunny 60 degree day, and more snow! Seriously, we never know what Mother Nature is going to throw at us here in the Midwest.

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All the snow and chilly weather has me really in the mood to snuggle under a fluffy blanket, watch some Christmas movies, and drink a big mug of hot chocolate! Thank God for the weekend, right??

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The last few weeks, I’ve been trying to adjust to the idea that the holidays are going to be very different this year. Living out of state makes it quite difficult to plan around everyone’s schedules and nearly impossible to make it to every little holiday event like we did in previous years. Josh and I have been trying to figure out when to head home so that we have enough time with both of our families. I’m excited to see everyone, to eat lots of delicious fattening food, and spend time with our nephews. But I’ve got to be honest- it’s really hard being the “guests” in town. The few times we’ve gone home, we’ve stayed with my parents. Who are seriously the best. They always have food and drinks and fresh sheets on the guest bed and they don’t mind helping us with Rocko. But it’s just not our home. There’s a level of comfort that just isn’t there when it’s not your own home- we have to tiptoe down the hallway so as not to wake anyone up, we have to make sure Rocko doesn’t get on the couch in the living room, we have to pack multiple days worth of clothes and shoes and toiletries and live out of a suitcase for days. And if my siblings bring their dogs, say goodbye to any peace and quiet- it’s just hours of running and wrestling and barking between the dogs. I had really taken for granted how easy we had it when we lived in the same town as both of our parents and could just drive five minutes to get home!

Another thing that’s different this year is that living in an apartment, there isn’t enough room for a full size Christmas tree. Decorating our tree is my most favorite part of alllll of the Christmas holiday. Since we were babies, my parents have given me and my siblings a super fun, personalized ornament for the tree. And even though I’m 30 and married and “all grown up”, I look forward to this every year. I’ve even started buying Josh a fun ornament so he can be a part of my favorite Christmas tradition too. So, when I realized we wouldn’t be spending an afternoon assembling the tree and hanging each special ornament on it, I was really bummed out. I maybe even cried. Ok, I did cry. I felt silly because it’s just a tree but it holds so many memories for me. It’s not the same, but we did get a tiny tree (about a foot tall) to sit on the table next to the TV. We don’t have any miniature ornaments for it (yet), but we did buy some battery-operated Christmas lights for a little extra sparkle. It may not seem like much, but a little Christmas magic goes a long way. And even though I may not love our tiny apartment that doesn’t have room for a big tree, it’s our home and I’m so thankful to be living there with Josh instead of a state apart!

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It’s easy to get wrapped up in all the little things, to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the busy holiday season. I know it happens to me! I’m doing my best to remember the true reason for celebrating at Christmas has nothing to do with the comforts of my own place or a big decorated tree or getting awesome presents. Christmas is about spending time with your loved ones, being thankful and counting all your blessings, and celebrating the birth of our Savior and through this the gift of being saved from death! 

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What do you do when it’s the first weekend of November and the weather is quintessential crisp, cool fall weather? Well, we jam-packed it full of zoo adventures and hiking and of course watching movies and eating delicious food! It was honestly one of the best weekends we’ve had since moving to Columbus.

Earlier last week, Josh’s mom called and asked if we would be up for a visit on Saturday. We actually didn’t have anything planned, so we were more than happy/excited to have visitors for the day! With the weather being so nice, we thought it would be a great chance to check out the Columbus Zoo with Josh’s parents. It was maybe a bit chillier than I would have preferred when walking around outside for several hours, but that also meant the zoo was a LOT less crowded and that was just perfect to me. We were quite sad that a few exhibits had been closed for the season, but we still had a really fun time walking around seeing all the animals. I had no idea how huge the Columbus Zoo is- it took us almost four hours to walk through everything and not even all the exhibits were open!

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I absolutely loved the brown bear brothers there and the baby manatees eating their lettuce!

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After working up an appetite at the zoo, we headed to Cap City Diner for lunch. Josh and I had both been recommended this restaurant by a couple different people, so we figured it was definitely worth trying. I loved it and I think everyone else did as well. The decor was exactly what you would think of for a diner- black and white tile, fun food art on the walls, and big booths with red leather seats.

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The menu had lots to choose from- fish and chips, meatloaf, pasta, burgers, eggs benedict, breakfast burritos, sooo many options! I thoroughly enjoyed my leftover Thanksgiving dinner sandwich with a side of mashed potatoes and white gravy.  The sandwich was two thick slices of toasted buttermilk bread stuffed with cranberry sauce, roasted turkey breast, and house-made stuffing. Yummmmm!

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Josh ordered the meatloaf dinner and it was scrumptious! The meatloaf came on a piece of toasted buttermilk bread topped with creamy mashed potatoes, chili onion rings, and BBQ gravy with a side of broccoli.

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We would gladly go back there for brunch, lunch, or dinner! And hopefully next time we’ll save room for a milkshake or a piece of their giant chocolate layer cake!

It was so nice to spend time with family and to have a day out on the town. But homesickness hit me hard just a few hours after they left. Josh had fixed french onion soup with soda bread for dinner, but I was just not feeling it. And I just kept feeling worse and worse. Finally, I couldn’t hold my feelings in any longer. I sat down on the couch next to Josh and just sobbed. I let it all out- my struggles with feeling so overwhelmed by everything – having a new job, living in a new apartment, going to a new gym, having no friends or family nearby. My new coworkers and gym group are all so nice, but I still feel lonely and like I can’t really connect with anyone. I miss my friends, I miss my home gyms, I miss my home. Everything is just different and hard right now. I know eventually it will get better and this will become “home”, but right now I’m having a harder time settling in than I thought I would. I’m so glad I let Josh know how I was feeling. I used to hold everything in and just shut down, but I’ve learned that that doesn’t do either of us any good and I just have to be honest and open about how I’m feeling…whether my feelings make sense or not.

For all the sadness and struggle I felt Saturday evening, Sunday was the exact opposite. Getting everything off my chest helped me to enjoy every last second of our time together Sunday and just live. We woke up around 6:30 am to spend the morning exploring Hocking Hills State Park. I really really wanted to visit there again after our trip there a few weekends ago and I knew this would be our last real chance for perfect weather and the most beautiful shades of golden yellow, burnt orange, and red leaves. On a recent Instagram story, we had seen pictures and video of Rock House and knew we had to visit there. We were the only car in the parking lot when we arrived and took off on an easy ½-mile hike to Rock House. The air was chilly and crisp, the birds chirping in the trees. It was so peaceful and refreshing.

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Rock House was so simple and really beautiful. We were totally alone except for the breeze through the cave and some birds cooing back and forth. I loved the large natural arches cut into the Blackhand sandstone walls allowing patches of fall light to illuminate the cave. It’s amazing to me what weather and time can do to nature, how it can change something from uninspiring to something majestic.

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After visiting Rock House, we drove a few miles over to Conkles Hollow State Nature Preserve. It was a little bit more crowded when we pulled into the parking lot, but thankfully we managed to have the Gorge Trail mainly to ourselves. The ½-mile (down and back) trail was paved almost the whole way and was easily traversed as we made our way past Horsehead Grotto and the tall stone cliff walls.

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As we got closer to the end of the trail, the path became more natural and rugged. I loved hopping over rocks and through the bubbling stream as we neared the waterfall.    

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How breathtaking is the way the sunlight filters through the bright green of the tree leaves?

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The Rim Trail was really, really neat! It was also kind of terrifying- there were several spots along the 2 ½-mile trail with no railings where you could have easily fallen right over the edge of the cliff into the gorge. The views, though, were so worth any small bit of fear.

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The trees down in the gorge were so picturesque, they looked like something from a Pointillism painting.

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And the sky in the background behind the bright red leaves…I just can’t handle how big and beautiful this world is sometimes!   

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I didn’t think it was possible for the day to get any better, but it did! Josh ended up not having much schoolwork to do, so we were lucky enough to have the evening free to go see Bohemian Rhapsody. Josh happened to find the most quintessential local theater- Grandview Theater and Drafthouse.

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We really had no idea what to expect of this little one-screen theater, but it was so fun! They have the traditional candy and popcorn for sale, but they also offer a full menu from Grandad’s Pizza. They’re just down the street and deliver straight to the theater! They also have a full bar with fun specialty cocktails named after the movie, as well as 20-30 different beers/ciders on tap. There is no doubt that we will be going back to this theater as often as possible. Inside the theater, there are several rows of seats in the back that have big wood tables for your food and drinks.  

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The movie was very entertaining and had my attention the whole time. I couldn’t stop singing and bobbing my head along to all the songs. I always forget how much I love Queen’s music until I hear all their songs, then it hits me again what a spectacularly talented band they were.

We weren’t hungry when we went into the movie, but smelling pizza the whole time had us craving it by the end. We tried out a new (to us) restaurant named Harvest Tavern and Pizzeria. We shared the goat cheese pizza and it was just right. The pizza crust was bubbly and brown, covered in a fresh tomato sauce with dollops of goat cheese, pieces chopped basil, the yummiest thinly sliced salame toscano, and plump cherry tomatoes.

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Even though there was a down this weekend, there were so many more ups. I feel so incredibly blessed for the opportunities Josh and I have taken/been given and I hope to have lots more incredibly fun, full of adventures weekends just like this one!

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home is where the heart is

What a fun weekend we just had! Somehow everything lined up quite perfectly- Josh’s professors had a conference out of state resulting in his classes getting cancelled and him having a lighter load for schoolwork, some of our best friends were throwing their annual kick butt Halloween party, and our nephew had his baby dedication at church. It was a jam-packed weekend for sure!

The Halloween party is literally my favorite party of all time. This was our third year going and we wouldn’t have missed it for anything! Our friends have this great old barn that they’ve been fixing up the last few years and that’s where they host the party. They go allllll out, seriously it’s amazing! They hung up tons of lights all inside the barn, they had a black light, smoke machines, a disco ball, and decorated with skeletons and cobwebs and other Halloween-y things. They also had a campfire going and an awesome blow up dragon bounce house in front of the barn. My favorite part though was the two projector screens they hung on either side of the dance floor which showed the music videos to the songs the DJ was playing. We danced and danced and danced some more. Every once in awhile someone would shoot off a confetti cannon and everyone would cheer and dance even more. I’m not kidding, they kill it at the party throwing game! There was tons of food and even more alcohol for anyone at the party to enjoy. I loved seeing all our friends (it’s been a couple months since we’ve all been together) so much!

Sunday morning we got up bright and early…for real, why we can’t sleep in on a day that we didn’t set an alarm?! Our amazing friends let us crash at their house, even though they were out of town. I can’t tell you how lucky we are to have such an amazing group of friends in our lives. Seriously. Anyways, we were up earlier than we needed to be, so we had time to relax and enjoy a yummy breakfast at a local diner. After some yummy biscuits and gravy, pancakes, and a Greek omelette, we headed down to Seymour for Hudson’s baby dedication at church. It was really neat to see so many babies be dedicated into the church family. I hope that Josh and I can continue to be strong role models no matter how near or far away we are. We headed to Kena and Arron’s (my in-laws) house for lunch after church. I was so so happy to be able to spend time with Josh’s family and most especially to cuddle Hudson to pieces. Guys, he is just so dang cute! He has started crawling all over the place and can even walk with assistance! I tell you what, I can’t believe how fast he’s growing up and I can’t wait to see him continue to grow.

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Going home for the weekend was wonderful and filled my soul with so much love. But, let me tell you, it was so very hard to come back to Ohio after seeing so many friends and family. I would do it all again though. And no matter where we live, I know that home is where the heart is…with Josh and all our friends and all our family.  

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[happy three years]

Ohmygosh! I canNOT believe that Josh and I have been married for 3 years today! This past year has been such a whirlwind in our journey together- from me starting a new job in Louisville,  to Josh quitting work and starting school full-time, to selling our house and moving to Ohio, to me starting another new job in Columbus, it’s just been crazy! In some ways, it doesn’t seem like it has already been 3 years and in other ways, it seems like how has it only been 3 years?? Hahaha, does that even make sense?

 Anyways, I feel like I learn something new every day about marriage and I thought it would be kind of fun to look back over this year and write about some of these things. So, here goes!

I’ve learned that marriage is about sacrificing. We sacrifice because we love each other and want to put each others needs before our own. Sometimes it’s little things, like letting Josh have the last bite of dessert instead of taking it…you know how much I love me some gooey chocolate chip skillet cookie and vanilla ice cream! Sometimes it’s bigger, like moving away to a new state/new job/new apartment so that Josh can pursue his passion in Dietetics. Honestly, it’s really hard sometimes! But, it’s so so worth it, I have no doubts about that.

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I’ve learned that just because you can do something on your own, doesn’t mean you have to or should. I used to let silly little things (like about laundry and doing meal prep) build up until I got so angry I just would be in the worst mood and not even talk to Josh or just be really short with him. I realized he didn’t even know I was feeling stressed with stuff and that he would be more than willing to help out however he could. Just freaking ask for help! I don’t get as stressed out now and Josh doesn’t have to sit there wondering why I’m being so rude to him, it’s a win-win for everyone!

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I’ve learned that you have to build yourself up so that you have the strength to build up your partner too. When I’m not feeling good about myself, just having a bad day or whatever, I don’t really feel good about anyone. I know it’s not fair, but that’s just the way it is. I’ve really been working on saying a little prayer to have a more positive attitude and change my mindset. When I take the time to build myself up, to tell myself that I can get through hard situations and all this change, it is so much easier for me to tell Josh that he can also because I believe it for myself first.    

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I’ve learned that you need to be kind to each other. You wouldn’t (you shouldn’t!) speak to a stranger terribly, so why would you speak to each other that way? We’ve all done it- you’re at a restaurant arguing and you whisper something rude to your husband, then in the next breathe turn to the waiter as nice as can be to order your dinner. Like flipping a light switch. Why, just why?!?! Josh is who I have built a life with, who I wake up to and who I go to sleep with. He of all people is who I should be nice to, who I should be building up with words of kindness and encouragement.   

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I’ve learned that sometimes you have to be selfish. When I say this, I’m mostly talking about taking time to do things that make me feel like me. I recently started reading again and remembered why I love it so much. So now, I’ve been trying to be “selfish” and take time to read my book instead of maybe watching tv together. I’ve been making time to go to the gym and get a workout in. A few hours here and there being selfish to take care of myself has meant so many more hours being able to fully be present and enjoy stuff with Josh.   

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I’ve learned that you have to communicate. Tell each other anything and everything. It might seem stupid to talk about the delicious bread you had at lunch, but if it was something that brought you joy, share it. It might seem stupid to talk about the lift you missed during your workout, but if it was something that made you sad, share it. It might seem stupid to talk about how I wanted Josh to start the episode of Modern Family on his phone instead of me starting it, but if it annoys you, share it! Getting things off my chest or sharing things that make me so happy also makes me feel closer to Josh, like he’s getting a peek inside my heart and into what makes me who I am. Whatever I’m feeling, if I share it with Josh, we can move forward, move on, and not worry about things building up.  

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I’ve learned that you have to have date nights. Scheduled, spontaneous, however is best for you, just have a date night! One super fun thing I gave Josh as a gift this past year is a Date Night coupon book. Every month has a different date night planned- build a fort and watch a movie at home, go on a hike and have a picnic, go ice skating and make hot chocolate, etc. All just fun activities and something a little different that we wouldn’t normally do! Most of our time is spent apart, either at work or school, so it’s been so great to focus on each other and spend quality time together even if just for a few hours a week. I can’t wait for the many more date nights to come!

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I never ever could have imagined that we would be where we are today, but I know that I wouldn’t want to be living this crazy adventurous life with anyone else!

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enjoy life, it’s delicious.

It is finally officially fall (even though it’s still been 80 degrees here ugh)! Fall is quite literally my most favorite season of all the seasons! I mean, who doesn’t love the crisp autumn air, snuggling up around a campfire making s’mores, and the crunch of golden yellow and crimson leaves under your cute new boots?? I also love fall because it seems to be a time when Josh likes to cook and bake even more than usual for us. There’s just something about a fresh home-cooked meal that is sooo cozy. Lately, Josh and I have been completely obsessed with our Half Baked Harvest cookbook. This most beloved cookbook delivers across the board- fantastic recipes ranging across all skill levels, fun flavors you would not think of combining on your own but absolutely just work, and the most scrumptious pictures that make you want to eat the page right out of the book! And if you don’t feel like purchasing the cookbook (but, really you should purchase it!), Half Baked Harvest also has a blog full of free recipes that is equally amazing.

Here are some of our favorite recipes from the cookbook:

Earl Grey Blueberry Muffins with Cinnamon Streusel

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Croque Madame Breakfast Pizza

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Nonnie’s Dutch Baby

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This Dutch Baby is by far one of our favorites and so easy to do! We’ve probably made this at least a half dozen times in the past 6 months!

Salted Brioche Cinnamon Rolls

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We ate the whole {16} servings by ourselves…whoopsies!

PB & J Grilled Cheese

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We made this for dinner and again for lunch the next day, it’s really that good!

Pumpkin and Oregano-Butter Gnocchi

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So rich and the ultimate comfort food.

Korean Beef, Sweet Potato, and Quinoa Bibimbap

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One of my favorite mouthfuls of food ever!

BBQ Short Ribs

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The juiciest, sauciest, most fall-off-the-bone ribs ever.

Better than Takeout 20 Minute Peanut Noodles

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The takeout noodles are another one of our faves that we’ve made multiple times…and the best news is, this recipe is available for free on the blog!

My pictures most definitely do not do these recipes justice, but it’s been the best cookbook we’ve ever purchased and the only one we’ve actually made multiple recipes out of multiple times. So, go out and getcha one now!

to neverland and back

Y’all, it seems like it has been forever since I last posted. Let me tell you, it sure has been a whirlwind these past few months! As you know, we found a condo in Ohio and moved the majority of our stuff over back in July. But, Josh and I didn’t actually move over because we were both still working at our previous jobs. Let me tell you, it’s loads of fun moving back in with your parents after being independent for so many years! Real talk- it was stressful at times because everyone has their own quirks and routines and ways of living, but we both felt really thankful that we had a stable, safe, and rent-free place to stay while transitioning through everything. I started applying for jobs as soon as we had our condo in hopes of getting hired somewhere in Ohio before Josh started school. Weeelllll, fast forward to the middle of August, to having applied for at least 50+ jobs at as many places as I could think of and I still don’t have a job and Josh is moving away so he can start classes. You guys, that was SO hard for me. Josh and I have done everything together since we started dating- working together, working out together, eating all our meals together, you name it, we were together. It had already been a huge transition for me commuting to my job in Louisville, but at least we spent our mornings and evenings together. I cried. A lot. Even when I would come stay with him at our condo every weekend, I cried when I had to leave to go back to my parents. I thought it would get easier, but it really didn’t. I know some couples have it way harder and have to live apart for way longer. My heart goes out to them, now I understand how difficult it is! Thank God, we only had to live apart for a month before I finally received a job offer at another pharmaceutical company! I’ve been working there for almost two weeks now and I really like it! The people are all amazing and I’m slowly but surely learning my way around and working through my training. Mostly, I’m just really happy that Josh and I are living together again!!!

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Through all this new and unknown, I was super excited to be a part of throwing a baby shower for my sister-in-law this past weekend! My sister worked so hard on coming up with a theme and making all the decorations, while my mom and I bring her vision to life. The baby shower turned out so cute and makes me even more excited to be a boy auntie again soon!

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Tell me that isn’t one of the most adorable Peter Pan themed baby showers you’ve ever seen!!! Hurry up and get here, baby boy! 

it’s my 5 year crossfitiversary!

I canNOT believe that I have been doing CrossFit for five (5!) whole years as of yesterday! I have never ever stuck with any kind of workout regimen/program for that long… I usually lose interest before a year. So this is a big freaking deal! I was thinking it might be fun to talk about 5 things I’ve learned from doing 5 years of CF.

  1. Being strong is beautiful! Before CF, I was super hesitant to wear certain clothes (ie shorts, bathing suits, tank tops, you know what I’m talking about). Now, I feel so confident in my own skin, especially since I have (slightly) visible muscles! Show off those muscles! Show off that hard work! You are investing in your own body and you should be proud…I promise it won’t make you bulky or huge, but it will make you healthy, strong, and confident (read: beautiful).   
  2. You CAN do it- mind over matter. A few weeks ago, I woke up and looked at the workout programmed for the day. I instantly had the worst attitude when I saw that “Fran” was programmed. Fran is a super yucky workout of 21-15-9 thrusters and pull-ups and I struggle mentally with it every time. I thought to myself “Fran is too hard. Maybe I’ll just skip today. I ate awful over the weekend, I’m tired, there’s no way I’ll do well.” All those negative thoughts in a matter of seconds. And then I thought to myself “No! There is absolutely no reason for this negativity. There is no reason for you not to go and just do your best.” I did grumble about it in my head still and when I stumbled on my first thruster, I really questioned if I would do well. But, I just kept my breathing controlled. I kept moving slow, but steady. And I got 14 seconds faster! I was so happy! Not only because I’m a little bit fitter, but mostly because my attitude and mental health have improved more than I realized. So, yeah, give yourself those few seconds or minutes to get all the negative and doubts in your life out, but then fill your mind right back up with encouraging, positive, “I CAN do this” thoughts! Choose your ‘tude!!!
  3. You get out what you put in. CF is one of those programs that is exactly how easy or how hard you make it. If you want, you can mosey about and just get the bare minimum done. And believe me, I have those days. But, if you push your limit to the max, you will be sooo rewarded. You might PR a max lift. You might get a faster time on a benchmark workout. You might do a gymnastics movement you never dreamed you were capable of. If you don’t put in the work, you will never know how much your mind and body are capable of. When you push your boundaries (in CF and in life), you just might be surprised what happens!    
  4. There is no better community than a CF community. You can push yourself harder/faster/further than you ever imagined you could with the help and support of your CF family. And don’t laugh- I really mean it when I say family. You spend a decent amount of time with this group of amazing people and every day they pick you up when you’re down and they push you to be your most healthy and best self every workout. You sweat together, you hurt during a hard workout together, you laugh together, and you’ll always be welcome no matter what gym you step into anywhere in the world.
  5. You are not your fitness level/ 6-pack abs/ backsquat weight/etc. I used to believe that I was only as good as the weight I could lift on the barbell. I used to believe that people would like me more if I had 6-pack abs. I used to believe I would only be accepted if I did the workout as prescribed. My gosh, I used to believe some really silly things! My mindset has changed since I started CF five years ago. Previously, I would be at the gym 5-6 times a week for 2-3 hrs every day. Now, I’m lucky to make it to the gym 4-5 times a week for 1 hr a day. The crazy thing is, I’m still getting PR’s in my workouts and I’m still improving every day. And guess what? Even if I wasn’t, my friends and family would still love me and support me just the same. They could not care less if I didn’t PR my Fran time or if my stomach isn’t ripped like a physique model. How awesome is that?! You are worth sooo much more! Embrace where you are in life, embrace your beautiful, strong, amazing body, and go out in this great, big, awesome world and live your best dang life!!!