Best Life Bootcamp

About the last couple months… It’s been everyone’s favorite time of year, right? I have mixed feelings about January and February. I don’t love the short days and bitterly cold air and constant threat of illness, but I do love candles, flannel, the fireplace a-blazin’, and cozy blankets. I also appreciate that the holiday hustle is over and it’s a chance to regroup as the new year starts.

I decided that since we didn’t have much planned this winter (besides surviving it) that I would try to create my “best life” during the toughest months of the year. And I would do so in the most trite and basic ways possible.

My first goal was to complete a true Whole 30. The last successful one I did was two years ago and my body felt overdue for a round!

The second item was to organize and declutter our house from top to bottom.

Next, with our schedule so open, I wanted to try to work out as much as possible. In addition to frequently teaching Zumba classes at our gym, I FINALLY tried out Boogie Fit at The Dancing House (again, another thing that has been on my to-do/to-try list pretty much since we moved to Hudson!) When not dancing, I tried to make sure I was still getting to the gym a couple days to lift, push, and pull heavy things.

Lastly, as CEO of our house, I just wanted to get some life-admin things in order and get my photography business in good shape for the year. Great plan, right? And absolutely easier said than done. But here’s how it went!

Riced cauliflower with chicken, avocado and peppers

So, Whole 30. To be honest, during November and December, I was still feeling down about our miscarriage and I fell into a comfy habit of having wine and snacks several nights a week while snuggling up with the husband and watching episodes of New Girl on Netflix. Although the time together was top-notch, I was frequently exhausted in the morning. Plus, I left no appetizer or sweet behind during the holidays and my pants were definitely not buttoning anymore. Since I didn’t want to buy new pants, Whole 30 it was starting on January 1st.

Chicken with Spaghettis Squash, Spinach, Tomatoes, and Artichokes

Honestly, this was the least traumatic start to a Whole 30 I’ve ever had. I think my body was really craving fresh, simple food. The first couple weeks passed by with no slip-ups or hiccups. I made lots of easy, uncomplicated meals and we didn’t eat out at all. But 2/3 of the way through the month I felt the food boredom sink in and was feeling up to trying some new recipes. Here are a few of the new dinners I made that were successful!

Jamaican Jerk Raspberry Chicken with Sautéed Plantains

Thai Coconut Chicken Soup

Pork Chops with Apples and Cranberries

Whole 30 Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes (so ugly, but tasty)

I think reason this Whole 30 felt easier was because it didn’t involve a lot of extra shopping and cooking. My breakfasts are already eggs and veggies, I just needed to not add any cheese or bread-like sides. My lunches were usually dinner leftovers or some staples I could make ahead. These are my two favorite easy lunches:

Sweet Potato Salmon Cakes with Chipotle-lime Mayo

Chicken salad with Apples, Raisins, and Celery

To conclude, I muscled through and made it the entire 30 days. My skin cleared and I lost some weight and gained some energy in the process But let’s be real. At the end of January we got hit with all of that cold and snow and ice which resulted in the kids being off school 7/9 school days in a row. So I promptly reintroduced wine and super bowl snacks and have been trying to just eat as mindfully as possible since then.

This is me on Day 30 of the Whole 30… feeling good but with a slightly crazy look in my eye because it was, like, the seventh day of canceled school due to severe winter weather.

Onto… minimizing and organizing! Although our home appears relatively neat and clean on the surface, I’m definitely a shove-it-in-the-closet or throw-it-down-the-basement-stairs, childhood-memorabilia hoarding kind of gal. And all of those overstuffed drawers and closets were starting to make me anxious.

Exhibit A. This was everything I extracted from Ares’s closet. FACEPALM.

So, here is how I approached the entire house for the month of January:

During the first week of January, I focused on finding homes for all of the Christmas gifts and putting away all of the Christmas décor. Then for the next three weeks, I focused on getting one floor of the house completely “done” in one week. Fortunately, this closely coincided with the order of categories that Marie Kondo suggests (I totally jumped on the bandwagon and watched her Netflix series “Tidying Up” while I ate my breakfast in the morning before the kids got up!). Her suggestions is to go by category, not rooms, the categories being clothes, books, papers, miscellaneous (kitchen, bathrooms, garage), then finally sentimental items. Since clothes and books are all in our bedrooms, that worked out perfectly. The main level was basically miscellaneous (or “komono” as she calls it). And then finally I got to the mountain of sentimental crap and unfinished projects in the basement. (And let’s be honest, that’s still a work in progress.)

Ares’s closet after. That feels better, right?
Ares’s bookshelf and toys
The girls’ closet. Each has a box of clothes to grow into as well as a tote of memorabilia (baby blankets, hospital momentos, etc.)
Our bookshelf. Yes, there’s a dragon statue. Because it sparks joy.

Honestly, these photos are kind of boring and I’m not going to post our linen closet, front hall closet, the pantry, etc. Although things may be clearer, cleaner and more functional, they don’t really make for sexy photographs!

Doing the Whole 30 and decluttering is not something I would recommend doing simultaneously. Organizing and decluttering had me feeling emotional and stressed at times and there was no drinking a glass of wine or having a bite of chocolate to ease those feelings. So, there were days where I was crabby from no sugar and crying because I didn’t want to let go of an old, broken suitcase of my dad’s. But I powered through with good coffee, good music, and a big messy bun as usual. As you can see from the above photos, the efforts yielded some good results.

So after all of that healthy eating and feeling like each room of our house had a project in it, it ended up being extremely helpful to get out when possible, even just to the gym this month. I danced, danced away teaching Zumba and once a week attending Boogie Fit at the Dancing House (legitimately, the most fun workout EVER and I always came home sweaty and in the best mood.) With Joe’s help I started lifting more and more and by the end of January, I was incredibly proud that I could do squats with the big plates! This was a big accomplishment for me as I used to have terrible form and couldn’t even squat properly with the bar.

AH! Pre-gym ports bra selfie! But sorry not sorry, because I’m feeling freakin’ proud of my arms and booty these days! It’s kind of crazy how much healthier, happier and more confident I am in my body now at 32 after having 3 kids than I was at 18!

In addition to the Whole 30, Sparking Joy Through Tidying, and Lifting Heavy Things, I made some life-admin tasks happen. This included bringing the kiddos to the dentist and doctor for check-ups and such, bringing myself to the dentist and the eye doctor, filing our taxes, sorting through and emptying my entire email inbox (something that has never been done before), and organizing all of my photo files on my computer. That, my friends, is self-care.

I still can’t believe this happened.
This flower bath I got as a free sample from Primally Pure is HEAVEN. Holy cats, this company has some great face/body/beauty products! #notsponsored

Speak of a more fun version of this “self-care” that everyone likes to discuss/participate in lately, I took up face masks and soaking in the bath! Since I wasn’t treating myself to Starbucks and such while Whole 30-ing, I treated myself in other ways. My favorite was by taking a bath every Monday during the day when Ares went down to nap, before Rosie got home from school. I also did a charcoal face mask once a week, occasionally bought fresh flowers for myself.

Selfie (with more clothes and makeup on) while shooting my beautiful boudoir clients at Studio Apparatus. This place is gorgeous.

As for photography, I sent out my January newsletter to clients with mini session dates, current, rates, and things like that. I set up and scheduled boudoir sessions for February. Boudoirs were so much fun and so successful that I published a brand new website and created an Instagram account solely for boudoir photography. This was nowhere on my radar even two months ago and now it’s something that I’m incredibly excited to pursue this year.

I also met and chatted with several brides (and grooms!) and booked 4 additional weddings for 2019.

Did I seem chill about that? Well, I’m not. I’m bouncing-off-the-walls EXCITED!!!!

So there you go. That was my winter time best-life” boot camp. .

I’m hoping that since I worked hard to set up a strong nutritional and organizational foundation for the year, I can stop with the best-life boot camp and now just ENJOY life, enjoy my kids, my husband, and myself with good habits in place in a healthy, cleanish environment.

I know this post was long and probably should have been broken up into at least three posts, but I wanted one place where I could actually look at everything I did these past couple months and pat myself on the back to say “You good job!” And to also tell my inner mean girl (the voice that says I am not enough/ don’t do enough), to properly shut it.

Now onto springtime!