say yes

Thinking Out Loud: Challenge Yourself

Remember the other day when we talked about saying yes? Sometimes it’s easier said than done. Saying yes is easy when it’s “Wanna meet at Portillos after work?” or “Wanna stay in, curl up on the couch and watch a Chopped marathon?” But what about things that push you out of your comfort zone?

It sucks. Saying “yes” when you’re happier opting out can be uncomfortable, awkward, and downright risky. But what kind of life lesson would it be if we just said yes to the things that were easy?

So today I’m thinking about the things I’ve done lately that have pushed past my comfort zone.


Group workout + Networking event

On Tuesday night I attended a group workout and networking event held on the west side of the city. Now, usually anything west of the highway means I won’t go. I’m a bit of a hobbit in this way — I have my “zone,” and I won’t venture out by myself. Not only was it a hike via public transportation, but it was a workout followed by a networking event (drinks/appetizers/cool new health products). Networking is not my strong suit. Contrary to what it might seem like on this blog, I don’t like talking about myself, and sometimes I psych myself out when meeting new people and get nervous. But it was a wonderful opportunity to support a lululemon ambassador from Shred415 and I knew the store was looking to have presence there, so I said yes.

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I basically faked it til I made it but it was awesome! The workout was held in a giant warehouse/studio space and even though it was only 20-30 minutes it was great. As you know I love group fitness in any form and this was like group fitness on steroids! We did a Shred415-inspired workout so you can imagine it was sweaty as all get out.

I said yes, got my sweat on, networked a bit after the workout, and, what do you know, I came out alive! I even got to meet some of the higher-up ladies for lululemon so that in and of itself made this challenge worth it.

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#diningin challenge

In terms of food, I thrive on “going with the flow” of my cravings. As I’ve shared before with my own health journey, years back I struggled with strict rules and consequences if I didn’t follow those eating rules. Nowadays I think I’ve completely thrown myself at the other end of the spectrum, almost as if to prove to myself just how “healthy” I am. And while I’m not saying I should go back to serious food structure, there’s something to be said about self-control, listening to your gut (literally and figuratively), and making food choices based on things other than “oooo that looks good! I’ll take it!” So I decided to challenge myself this week and see if I have the mental game to spend money on food only in the grocery store, and nothing outside those walls.

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I hit every food group, made pulled BBQ chicken in the crockpot as a good protein base to use throughout the week, and made sure to include some sweet/saltiness. Let’s be realistic: this isn’t Whole30 this is “don’t run to the 7/11 at 10pm for a bag of tortilla chips.” And you know what? It hasn’t been tough at all. Now, granted, when Friday rolls around and I can’t spend any money on food or drinks I’m going to have to come up with some pretty creative ways to get my drink on at the bars, but that’s neither here nor there. For now, this is a success story.

So far so good:

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Overnight Oats: 1/2 cup oats, 1 cup almond milk, chia seeds, millet, cinnamon, stevia, slivered almonds, and a scoop of pb

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Grilled cheese: havarti cheese, tomato, and (of course) another slice of bread on top

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“Homemade” trail mix for quick energy bursts in the afternoon (plus unpictured almonds)

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Pulled chicken sandwich, roasted crispy sweet potatoes, roasted cauliflower and broccoli

lulu photoshoot

I guess calling this a photoshoot is a stretch, but I took some photos for our store’s social media pages and it was one of the most uncomfortable things I’ve done in awhile. I am about as awkward as it gets when it comes to any kind of “candid posing”. So when my manager asked if I’d be willing to do showcase some of our new spring pieces, I almost said no, as I’ve said no in the past. But hey, I have to practice what I preach, right? So I said yes. And, once again, I survived (and had a lot of fun doing it).

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We even got a hilarious shot out of it. I was trying to do a stretching pose and ended up looking like George Washington crossing the Delaware (minus the sword, sadly). I knew the second I saw it I had to get the two side by side. My coworkers and I were in stitches.

unnamed (15)Moral of the story, saying “yes” isn’t always easy. And it might not always turn out great. But I like to think that the consequences of missing out on a fun opportunity outweigh actually saying yes and it not going well. I’d rather have the latter and know I at least gave it a try! Why be scared of taking chances?


  • How did you last challenge yourself?
  • Have you ever said yes when you didn’t want to? How did it turn out?
  • Best meal you cooked this week with ingredients from the grocery store….go!

The Guest House: Say YES, Be PRESENT

This “being human” thing is tricky.

This past week a student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (my alma mater) was murdered. He was last seen at 7pm heading to a friend’s apartment on one of the busiest streets on campus, only three blocks from my old apartment, and his body was found five days later ten miles outside the college town along a rural road.

Shock and tragedy are a part of life — but this really stopped me in my tracks for awhile when I heard. I can’t tell you how many times I ran around campus with my friends (and sometimes by myself) late at night walking, laughing…just being 19. Now people are being randomly targeted, assaulted, robbed, beaten, raped, and now murdered. All on a campus in a small town in the middle of nowhere in central Illinois, where thousands of students travel every year to have “the best four years of their lives.” The worst part about this particular crime  is that it was early evening, on a busy street on campus, on a Friday. This could have happened to ANYONE.

Whenever tragic things happen to someone, it always hits me hard,because it could easily happen to me. Or a friend. Or a family member. Life could change in a second, with no warning.

So how do you deal with the fact that, yes, terrible things happen in life?

Sometimes it’s hard to stay positive and present in a world where it seems like so many bad things happen. Especially because the “bad” these days is usually really bad. But I always go back to this incredible quote about inviting it all in, the good and the bad, and somehow it makes me feel better. Knowing that bad things are going to happen to me reminds me that I am human, and that because I’m human, I’ll recover.


I think everyone has their own way of coping with the realities of life: “life is short” “bad things happen to good people” and “you have to see the glass half full” all strike people in different ways. So it would be callous and insulting for me to insinuate that a positive outlook on life is easy. That’s way too cliche. But I have found ways to help me cope with the fear of tragedy and appreciate life for what it is:

  • Say YES. Unless you have a prior commitment, it doesn’t align with your values, or you’re sick, say yes to any and all invitations life throws at you. Coffee with an old friend? YES. A networking event where you’ll know no one and probably spend the first 15 minutes standing awkwardly with a drink in your hand? YES. A dinner date, even though your bank account is dwindling? YES. Building a snowman outside even though you’re 24 and haven’t bought a pair of snow pants since 1997? YES.

For many of you reading this who don’t actually know me, you might think this a little cheesy. And it is I guess. But I’ve learned that life is made up of the little moments that happen when you’re busy anticipating “the big things.”  Too many people are waiting to meet their future husband to be happy. Too many people are working 60+ hours a week trying to build up their 401k plan at 25 years old. And way too many people work at a job they don’t love in hopes that things will be better “in the future.” I used to think I just didn’t get it. But now I’m realizing that the way I’m living is what’s making me happy. Which brings me to the second thing I’ve learned lately:

  • Be PRESENT. I am perfectly content where I am in this exact moment. I’m not looking to the future to justify a single aspect of my life. I wouldn’t change a single thing about my daily routine. I do exactly what I want to do every day. And do you know what? Life isn’t flying by the way it used to. Months used to be over in the blink of an eye, and my friends and I would commiserate over time flying with a glass of wine. Now?January dragged. It was a full month. I celebrated my birthday. I tried Hot Power Fusion yoga for the first time. I met some other bloggers in real life. I spent more money at more restaurants in Chicago than is even remotely fiscally responsible for someone my age. I met tons of new people. I started eating bacon again because damnit it smells good, and that’s it. I watched a basketball game with my dad. I went to a concert. I made enchiladas. Don’t get me wrong — I have goals, and specific benchmarks that I know I have to accomplish to reach those goals. But the goals are all my own. They haven’t been manipulated by someone else’s opinion, or by any insecurities about possibility. And because they are truly my goals, and the way I live my daily life supports m goals, I don’t feel any pressure or fear of the future. I know it’s all going to be okay, because the way I live on seemingly insignificant days will shape my life overall, and I know I’ll be happy.

So much for writer’s block, right? I just started typing and a novel came out.

THANK YOU everyone for being an outlet for me to share posts like this. I absolutely love sharing the light-hearted, food-obsessed side of me, but every once in awhile I guess it’s good to remind you I’m human as well.