7 Tips for controlling your diet: beginner’s edition

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably spent a lot of time searching for ways to gain control of what you eat. If you’re trying to lose weight, get stronger, think more clearly or simply prove to yourself that you’ve got what it takes, then maybe it’s time to set yourself up for success!

Here are 7 ways to boost your appetite control and give yourself the necessary tools for a careful diet!

1. Don’t go to the grocery store hungry, EVER.

I mean it! If you go to the grocery store when you’re ravenous, you’re going to want whatever you see in sight. Grocery stores carefully place their food items in locations where customers will FIND the most visually stimulating foods. Take for instance the vegetables, meats and dairy. You have to walk ALL the way around the store to get to them! The unhealthy, snacky foods like sugary cereal, chips and soda are right smack in the middle aisle, across from the entrance of the store, which is where you’ll probably walk first. If you eat before you go to the store, you won’t throw whatever you see into your cart. You’ll spend time looking at ingredients, paying attention to prices and most of all, picking healthier foods.

2. Take your vitamins

This one seems obvious but you’d be surprised what people crave when they are nutrient deficient. That’s right. You eat random (often unhealthy) foods when you’re missing key nutrients. See below for samples of certain cravings and what could be causing them:

  • Sugar: dehydration, Magnesium or Chromium deficiency
  • Cheese: Essential Fatty Acid or Calcium deficiency
  • Red meat: Iron deficiency
  • Soda: Calcium deficiency
  • Alcohol: Calcium or Potassium deficiency

So pay attention to your cravings. See where they lead you and practice balance by taking your vitamins every day. If you need a great, reliable brand to start with, go with the doTERRA Lifelong Vitality Pack:

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To buy from me directly, comment below!

3. Bring snacks with you EVERYWHERE

I’m not kidding when I say that I eat ALL DAY LONG. I do! No matter what, I keep a bunch of different snacks with me. Salty cashews from Trader Joe’s+ RXBARs are a current favorite. These foods last me no matter where I am or what I’m doing. If you let yourself go hungry and build up that diet frustration, you’re going to end up stopping at Taco Bell or something to grab a Crunch Wrap Supreme. Not worth it! So whatever your healthy snack is, just throw it in your purse or gym bag.

4. When in doubt, chug water 

Okay so you think water is boring, I’m sure. It’s hard to drink it all day long. But truthfully, if you never leave the house without your HUGE (large Smartwater size) bottle, you’re going to mindlessly drink it all day. Leave it in the cupholder of your car and take a swig whenever you hit a stop sign or stop light.

You’ll quickly feel happier (because water actually lifts your mood, instantly), and you won’t crave nearly as much!

5. Give yourself a break 

Chocolate chip cookies and milk served on a wood table

This is one of the biggest tips I can give you. Completely ditching particular foods for an unnamed length of time will lead to eventual failure. Don’t just stop cold turkey and expect it to last. Sometimes, you need to let yourself eat 3 cookies that your sister made when you went to visit her. (Yes that happened.) I basically inhaled 3 huge chocolate chip cookies because I KNEW that I stay on track every other day. It was a trust I developed with myself. It had been a long time since I had one chocolate chip cookie, let alone three, and here I was dipping them all in unsweetened almond milk and chowing down. Guilt didn’t overwhelm me because when I got back home, there weren’t any desserts in my house. I have established a solid habit of eating well and because of this, I can eat whatever I want sometimes. It’s called BALANCE.

6.  Substitute dirty foods for clean foods (of the same flavor value)

Substitutions are a great way to balance your diet. I am going to give you some of the best substitutions I use to combat unhealthy fatty foods, carbo-loading and those desperate late night needs for sugar.

Rather than eating a bucket of ice cream eat this:  (or any of Hail Merry‘s other delicious desserts.)

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Rather than drinking sugary milks, drink this:

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Rather than eating a regular greasy pizza, add your favorite toppings to this:

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Rather than buying a Starbucks Lemon Loaf or pastry, drink this:

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And finally, rather than eating ANY other power or protein bar packed with sugar and artificial crap, eat this:

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7. Embrace small victories

It’s very important to congratulate yourself for conquering a sugar or unhealthy food craving. When you win, genuinely acknowledge how great you are and how difficult it is to smash these habits. After all, our “needs” are BIOLOGICAL after all! Take baby steps when creating a better diet routine. Don’t expect to have the same results as someone else, just take your fitness and health journey step-by-step until it’s manageable 100% of the time. Every time you go to the store and leave the chocolate cookies or caramel ice cream on the shelf, you win. YOU’VE GOT THIS.

 

By following these 7 methods for diet success, you’ll begin to build the foundation you’ll need to live your entire life from the seat of someone who’s killin’ it at life. That’s you.

Comment below with any questions or successes you might have!

 

T.

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The value of HABIT – 5 helpful tips to keep your fitness moving forward

Whenever people ask me about how long it took me to get fit and feel good, I say “25 years.”

And it’s true!

It took a long time – years and years, to establish solid habits, a routine and an expectation for how I want to feel. But don’t worry, you don’t need 25 years to build your OWN healthy lifestyle.

Over these 25 years there have been 5 distinct habits I’ve cultivated that give me the confidence to take a day off, and not worry that I’ll fall off the wagon.

5 tips to keep your fitness moving forward

1. You have your best workout, when you want to go the LEAST.

We all have days when the couch is calling. When we’ve had a long day at work, didn’t sleep very much the night before, or when we start making excuses because we are flat out lazy. Truthfully, all habits are built by actions. The moment you simply put your running shoes on, your mind is already changing. If you take the steps that you’d normally go through when getting ready for the gym or that spin class, your HABIT will start to develop. And watch, you’ll be SO happy you pushed through the lazy.

2. Find a buddy

Working out on your own is fine, but it’s WAY more fun if you can rope in a best friend or significant other to keep you accountable. If you feel lazy, knowing a friend is waiting for you will give you that boost to get off your butt and get out there. Plus, spending quality time with friends is one of the best ways to improve overall happiness.

3. What’ the rush?

Let’s be real, focusing on the “Lose 10 Pounds in a Month!” concept is ridiculous. It’s important to build fitness habits that are sustainable and not rushed. Embrace the moments of weakness, learn from them and document them. This is about building a healthy LIFESTYLE, not about finding a quick trick to shed the excess belly fat. While I’m a supporter of diving in head first, I’m also a supporter of establishing solid patterns. That is the best method for fitness success.

4.  Month on, month off

This past year, I’ve tried a few different ways to get in control of my nutritional habits, and one method taught me far more than the others.

My boyfriend and I decided to take one month to give up something that wasn’t necessarily good for us, and see how we feel/see if we could actually do it! Our first month was alcohol, difficult, but not impossible. Our second month was sugar, eye-opening, yet effective. Our third month was simple carbohydrates –  now I know how much muffins mean to me! So what was the result? The empowering feeling of knowing that we are 100% in control of what we put in our mouths. EPIC.

5. Switch it up

This is the one time I would say to break habit rather than develop it. Working out and exercising is effective until that day that your body gets too familiar with your workout routine. If you always warm up with the bike, jump on the elliptical, play a game of basketball, do something completely different to confuse your body. If you lift the same weights, even in rotation, give your body something NEW to get sore from. If spin class is your go-to, switch it for a jog or a yoga class. Then – watch your body transform.

 

 

Comments or questions? Comment below!

Are you following me on Facebook? Like us for all the best no-bullshit fitness + health tips. – Click ME

T.

How I survived a month without alcohol or sugar (and lost a LOT of body fat)

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I know, you’re thinking: “she’s crazy, right?” Well… I might be, but it worked! Yep, I’ve continued to keep this going past the one month mark and had no intention of doing so. After moving back to Seattle, I realized that coming off of a huge 6-month traveling tour took it’s toll on my gut as well as my mood. I’ve spent hours thinking about how food affects my body and mind and I soon realized that it wasn’t about cutting out cheese and butter. After reading a few books outlining the benefits of a diet with no sugar or simple carbs and an increase in healthy fat, I finally decided to commit to it. Just like that…commitment happened.

This new approach to eating began with baby steps. When I started to analyze my habits, I noticed that every time I’d drink wine or any alcohol, the rest of my diet would slightly slip. On nights I omitted the wine, I’d usually eat a delicious salad with hefty vegetables and sugar-free, healthy salad dressing for dinner. But whenever I’d drink even one glass of wine, I’d sit one my couch and start snacking on processed popcorn or ‘healthy’ chips. Then, that jolt of energy would kick-start my cravings for bread, chocolate, parmesan, pasta, pizza and everything else I was trying to avoid. I had never associated the two habits before, but once I paid attention, it made sense.

The first two weeks of cutting out alcohol were easy. My routines continued without issue: working out, lots of decaf tea and plenty of new books. But once social events began to fill the calendar, avoiding alcohol became far more difficult than I thought it would be. My friends and I would go to dinner and everyone would order a glass of something. But rather than sip on a cabernet or merlot, I’d just order boring old water and sip it begrudgingly as the rest of them cheered with wine soaked smiles. To add more to the struggle, I traveled to San Diego on a weekend business trip, which was filled with evening parties, networking events and business dinners. This is where the learning curve made itself even more known. During moments when I’d normally think nothing of a drink or two, I was suddenly glancing around the room like an ugly duckling with no social safety net.

I didn’t drink casually because I necessarily wanted to, but because it is a cultural norm. Conversation flowed more easily, happy buzzed vibes gave me energy and I’d enjoy a night out a whole lot more. When I stopped drinking, there was a constant, uneasy feeling of FOMO, (fear of missing out) on nights where everyone would go out to bars. It just didn’t sound fun to soberly watch drunk people laugh and spill their beers all night. ‘Why don’t we go to the park? How about a picnic? Laser tag anyone?’ I’d think to myself.

Noticing the social expectations of having a drink made me feel somewhat frustrated. I’m not an alcoholic, but it was eye-opening to watch how much of society revolves around drinking alcohol.

Soon though, something interesting and unexpected occurred. Once I set the standard for not drinking, I noticed my friends absorbing my actions. When I’d say, ‘No thanks, I’m not drinking tonight,’ they would say, ‘Oh, yeah I don’t think I want anything either.’ Then, we’d order hot water with lemon instead and guess what… we’d STILL enjoy each other! How incredible!

Kicking alcohol was just the start. The confidence I mustered during those initial thirty days led me into my next challenge: NO SUGAR. Cringe-worthy, right? I didn’t know what shutting out sugar would be like, but I wanted to discover what else I could accomplish.

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Normally, I wouldn’t consider reading food labels because I usually eat whole, unprocessed foods, but once I started paying attention to what contained sugar, my habits again became even more obvious. Initially, I decided to cut all desserts. Yes, this was insanely challenging, but I remained bold and strict. (Even when someone brought Top Pot Doughnuts to work). Now THAT was excruciating. But every time I forced myself to walk away from those sugary foods, it got easier and easier. The first three times I nearly ruined my streak, but soon enough there wasn’t a question of whether I’d eat it or not. I just didn’t.

You’ll find that most items with heavy sugar content also are cakey, starchy, carbo-loaded foods like cookies, coffee cake, pancakes, pasta, etc. So cutting out alcohol led me to cut out sugar, which then naturally became cutting out simple and unhealthy carbs, all by association!

Fast forward to a month and a half later and I feel happier than ever with a clean gut and far less excess body fat. I don’t weigh myself because pounds aren’t important to me, but I still FEEL fifteen pounds lighter, which should be the focus of getting healthier. Throughout this time, I continued my workout plan of exercising five to six times a week, switching off between yoga and weightlifting. Cutting out all this crap has resulted in far more energy, improved mood and lightened spirit, all because I decided to take the plunge and risk being the ugly duckling at a gathering.

In order to give myself some inspiration to continue my alcohol free lifestyle, I tried having a glass of wine while working at a restaurant one night to see how it would make me feel. Immediately, my body spoke loud and clear. One glass of wine after weeks and weeks of a clean liver made me feel foggy, slightly dizzy and again, pushed me to order a cheesy french onion soup that I later regretted.

So what does this mean for you? Start small. If you aren’t someone who drinks at all, (good for you), this domino effect system will still work. Starting with something like caffeine, sugar or bread is just as good as alcohol. Test yourself to see what you can truly accomplish. This system especially works when you have a buddy doing it with you. My boyfriend was the one to initially suggest cutting out alcohol to be healthier and his partnership in the adventure helped immensely. In those moments where I was about to give up, I’d think of his dedication and successes, and find the strength to say no. So, to inspire you further, here are three books you MUST read:

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Sugar Crush by Raquel Baldelomar & Dr. Richard Jacoby

Skinny Bitch by Kim Barnouin

Smart Fat by Jonny Bowden and Steven Masley

 

 

 

Eating well and regaining control of your diet takes small, intentional steps and patience. Upwards of 80% of fat loss can be credited to diet. Not only that, but mood and behavior is directly associated to what you put in your mouth. “Your mood comes from your gut,” my mother used to say. Cutting out something that is making your body sick, blended with activity and exercise will shove you into a new mindset, thus giving you the strength you need to be truly heathy and lose excess body fat.

If you need help getting started or some more information about health and wellness, write in the comments below so we can get connected! For more health tips, follow me on Instagram or Twitter !

T.

 

Secrets to tackling winter in Banff

Well, I definitely didn’t mentally prepare for winter in Banff. This place blew my mind and froze my face off! If you haven’t heard of it, you have to go there.

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Banff was way colder I realized it would be and far more beautiful than I could actually pictured in my head. A few friends warned me about the temperatures, but you have to feel -10 degrees Fahrenheit to actually understand what that means. I’m not a pansy in weather either! So in order for you to rightfully prep yourself and have the most incredible experience possible, here are some travel tips:

1. Rent a car

There are shuttles that take you from Calgary International Airport to Banff, but if you want to capture the most beautiful photography at Lake Louise, Abraham Lake or in Jasper, you’ll need a car with all wheel drive. I can’t tell you how many front wheel drive cars we saw on the side of the road, stuck deep in about 5 feet of snow and ice. Make sure you get insurance for your vehicle to avoid that mess. I think its about $30 a day (Canadian). The best rental service as far as speed, affordability and availability was Alamo, located right in the Calgary Airport. We went to all the services trying to get the best rate and they beat out all the other companies. You can’t really walk very far in the winter, as it’s way too cold, so a car is definitely a must.

2. Clothing

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You can’t mess around when packing for Banff. Pack a ton of layers, long johns, hand
warmers, hats, high quality gloves/mittens, face mask for skiing, a fleece, snow jacket, multiple thick winter ski socks, Sorel boots (or similar), waterproof snow pants, all camera equipment (including a tripod), hats, long insulated snow jacket and a GPS. There’s spotty service in the mountains!

3. Skiing/snowboarding

The first thing the locals told us was, “Make sure you have a face mask and goggles.” We didn’t prepare for it to be -15F at the peak of the slopes, so we had to buy those when we got there. My hands were throbbing and completely red with two layers of gloves on, so hand-warmers were completely necessary. You have to cover every tiny area of skin on your body with layers of clothing in order to feel comfortable in that kind of weather. Pack snacks and make sure you get to the slopes in the morning if you want to be on the mountain all day. For instance, Sunshine Village closed at 4:30pm, which felt somewhat early.

Rankings for ski resorts: 

1st Sunshine Village – best variety of blues, greens and blacks, 25 minutes from the town of Banff

2nd Lake Louise – great option if you’re staying close to Lake Louise

3rd Mount Norquay – mostly blacks

4. Find the good food

If you’re going to stay in the town of Banff, make sure you take a walk through the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. It was built in the early 1900s, is definitely haunted, has a secret Gold Floor, boasts a beautiful outdoor heated pool in the snow and has some of the best restaurants in the area. Samurai, located on the first floor, has really great sushi. It’s not super cheap but worth it! (And I’m a sushi snob.) The town of Banff has mostly pubs and your average Canadian comfort food so we kept choosing the Fairmont restaurants time and time again. There are 12 dining options to choose from there!

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5. Be adventurous

Make sure you don’t simply go wherever the top spots to visit are. Lake Louise, of course isn’t something you want to miss, but get out there and drive a ways out of town to find remote places that you can make your own. We took a long walk into the woods, not knowing where we were going and it was a blast. There was a wolf warning (a first for us) at the time, so we were careful, but other than that it was perfectly peaceful.

Spots not to miss:

Lake Louise

Johnson Canyon (there are two waterfall locations, both beautifully frozen in winter. Prepare for a 30-minute hike to the lowest point and a bit longer if heading to the upper waterfall. Can be icy, be careful!

Jasper

Lake Minnewanka 

Banff Upper Hot Springs

Fairmont Banff Springs

Finally,

Leaving Banff can be hectic during the wintertime because airports and flights often get cancelled due to weather conditions. Our flight was cancelled and rescheduled for the next day. It might be safe to save a day after your trip for potential flight issues!

T.

 

Staying healthy during the holidays

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The holidays are almost here! As much as we garner joy from this time of year, we also find ourselves dreading some of the hidden habits that we take on from October 31st to January 1st (or 2nd depending on how hungover you are.)

So how do we stay on track? Is it simply impossible? Should we just accept that we’ll fall off the bandwagon and deal with it later?

One of the most important aspects of staying healthy and lean is to not give yourself the option to dive off the deep end. I know that whenever I’m home with family, I’ll crave baking a pie or cooking with as much butter as I can get my hands on. But before I give myself the option to consider opening up that old school cookbook my mom’s had for 30 years, I remember that if the food is there, I’m going to eat it. I can’t handle the temptation. So how do we still enjoy this time of year without quitting our favorites cold turkey? I have one word for you:

SUBSTITUTIONS. 

Substitutions definitely work but take more thoughtfulness. Nowadays, there are so many foods that can help to stop your cravings and make you feel satisfied without having to indulge.

This is what I mean:

Craving sugar? Pie? Cookies? = chia pudding with almond milk, cinnamon, honey, shaved almonds, fruit or a cup of tea sweetened with honey or Stevia. Many times your sugar cravings kick in when you’re dehydrated. Take a minute to down a few glasses of water, wait 10 minutes and see if you still have the craving. I bet you don’t!

Want a big ol’ juicy steak? = often times we crave a burger or steak because we’re low on iron or protein. Our minds are wired to go there because the flavors are most abundant. But, there are so many vegetable dishes that end up satisfying us just like a burger would. I know that sounds crazy and you might be rolling your eyes right now, but give it a try. Here are some decadent vegetable recipes that will help curve that craving while satisfying you on all levels: Dig-in!

Need a buzz? = GO FOR WINE. Don’t slap the bag or chug it at dinner, but wine often helps with digestion. Still, don’t go crazy. Try having a glass of red rather than sugary, syrupy, goopy, Cinnamon Bailey’s, Egg Nog over-the-top holiday craziness.

Overeating = overeating is a common side-effect of the holidays. Everything is just so yummy so why not fill your entire plate twice because it’s so welcoming? Because you’ll die from the expanding digestive tract inside you. THAT’S WHY. Think about this: the day before everyone arrives for Thanksgiving and Christmas, drink as much water as you can. Drink water like it’s your job. The more water you drink, the less pain you’ll feel after the meal. You’ll be slightly full before the meal so you’ll eat less.

So while that turkey looks beautiful and indulging, think about preparing for the massive amounts of food and set yourself up for success. You’ve worked so hard to eat consciously, now keep yourself on track!

T.

 

 

 

 

 

Top 5 ways to feed your soul (and jump start your metabolism)

Do you ever experience that ridiculously full feeling after a meal? We’ve been told so many things about our diet and how it relates directly to digestion. Drink more water, eat more fiber, eat more of that, eat less of that, bla bla bla. It’s all so confusing and seems to change every five minutes. So rather than changing anything that we eat, here are 5 tips to boost your metabolism and make you feel better after a meal:

1. Eat slowly

This is my #1 rule. Eating slowly is so hard to do sometimes. Unless, you’re one of those people with the magic ability to NOT stuff your face. (That’s not me.) Eating slowly allows you time to enjoy your food. Our bodies digest food slower than we eat it and you’d be shocked how much less you eat when you take the time to put the fork down in between bites. Plus, the meal lasts so much longer, so the bliss continues!

2. Savor your food – feed your soul

One of the hardest parts of being a hard worker is that we tend to eat on the move. While eating in between meetings is alright once in awhile, try to remember to stop, sit and enjoy your meal. Don’t eat food that you don’t thoroughly enjoy, because sometimes you’ll forget how amazing flavor and texture can truly be. Take one bite, chew it slowly and think about what flavors stick out to you. Think about what you love about each ingredient. Maybe next time you’ll realize how good that sandwich was rather than cringe at how full you feel.

3. Invite friends to join you

Most of us eat alone these days. Especially in America, we work ourselves into the ground and end up eating alone on our couch with a glass of wine while watching our favorite show. Eating is a cultural, physiological practice, which is meant to be enjoyed with others. When you eat with a group of friends or your family, you tend to find more joy and comfort from your meal. So next time you’re driving home thinking of ordering Grubhub or Postmates alone, call up your mom or your best friend and invite them over. Have a party!

4. Carry around healthy snacks  – so you don’t go into starvation mode

I know for me, whenever I don’t bring snacks with me to work, I get hangry and rush off to the closest taco stand. Instead of ordering 2 tacos, I order 4 and I eat them as if I’ve never eaten in my entire life. I let myself get far too hungry which simply becomes a stomach ache and instant regret. Yes those tacos were great, but I could barely taste them since it was apparently a race to inhale as much shrimp, salsa and guacamole as humanly possible. So don’t be me at lunch next time. Bring nuts, peanut butter, apples and maybe a raw protein bar to hold you over. We aren’t neanderthals!

5. Cook…all the time.

Cooking is not only one of the most enjoyable pastimes for many, but it is a way to understand what goes in to creating the meals we love so much. Humans began their existence by hunting, gathering, preparing and sharing their food in a slow, drawn out manner. Some cultures understand the social connection we are meant to have with food, but for some reason Americans tend to purchase and stuff, rather than cook every meal. When we cook, we have more control over the calories we consume, we can reduce stress and perhaps build relationships if we cook with friends. So pop open that recipe book!

Special thanks to Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food. 

Preparation meets opportunity

“Success is when preparation meets opportunity.”

This was what my mom used to tell me growing up. I always believed her, but I couldn’t rely on luck, so I chose to pave my own path anyway. I spent my childhood fighting to be the most well-rounded kid I could be. I was athletic; I was a dedicated theater performer; I was passionate about my education; I nurtured my relationships; I ate healthily; I learned lessons the first time; I tried to always make my family proud. Each day, I set an intention to remain happy, patient and always respect myself. This was how I was going to make my life exactly what I wanted it to be.

Despite my efforts, there were times when I would question my specific decisions, when I thought I needed to have more fun and stop trying so hard. People would often tell me not to take life so seriously. It wasn’t until others commented about it that I thought I was living a heavy, high-pressure lifestyle. It made me worry that I was wasn’t focused on the right elements of life. Watching all those other kids have a blast and not worry about their futures made me nervous that I was watching my life pass by.

But today is different. I spoke to my mom this morning about how each step I’ve taken up until today has led to this minute. I knew I had big dreams, HUGE dreams when I was young, but to think I’d actually accomplish them rarely crossed my mind. My focus
was on the path to getting there and enjoying that first… then maybe if that luck rolled around I’d catch my dream job. Well…sitting here today, thinking back on all of the frustrating piano lessons, dense theater classes, long study nights, impossible exams and tough moments of defeat, I can now say that everything was worth it. I can’t believe I get to say that! I get to say it because a few weeks ago, I landed got my dream job. I get to pack up everything I own, jump on a plane, hurl myself into the unknown with a really great friend of mine and get paid to do it!

My dream job is quite different than what most people picture. I hoped to blend everything I love into one particular position. But I was told that job doesn’t exist, so I was about to settle for second best. What is unexpected, is that this new job was carefully crafted to work out. Everything I did in my life up until today has led to it. The position isn’t even a job, it is an adventure. I couldn’t have created a job more perfectly aligned with who I am. A job that involves health, wellness, travel, cooking, meeting other people and television is all wrapped up into a perfect bow. Luck? Sure. But most importantly: preparation.

All the questions I lived with for so many years, about whether or not I’m doing the right things, have been answered. I am so grateful!

-T.

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