Easy Lifestyle Changes to Achieve Physical Wellness

physical wellness

Hey guys! Thanks for checking out my sixth post in the How to Create a Wellness Lifestyle series. For the first time in years, I feel strong. My body doesn’t feel brittle or achy or finicky like it has in the time since graduating from college. I can lift heavy things with ease, and I don’t get out of breath easily. Since noticing the gradual physical changes in myself, I’ve been in complete wonder about how amazing the human body can be. It has so much more power and ability than I ever imagined. And that brings me to my point- too many of us have gotten used to feeling sluggish and weak as the new normal.

It’s so easy to feel that way. It’s more simple to just relax on the couch after work or eat a huge helping of that delicious, cheesy lasagna. I know. Like I said, even I felt physically “blah” until fairly recently when I started changing up my habits. Improving upon habits is really what it’s all about. It won’t matter much to your physical well-being if you convince yourself, only once, to exercise in the morning. Same with eating healthily- sandwiching two healthy dinners between fifty unhealthy ones won’t really make a difference. And no gimmicky fad diets! It’s about changing your long-term, day-to-day habits.

 

From my experience, here are some easy tips and recommendations to achieve physical wellness through healthier eating and fitness:

  • Eat until you feel comfortable, not until you’re full. It takes the brain about 20 minutes from when you begin eating to register that there’s food in the stomach, so you’ll keep thinking you’re starving when really the brain just hasn’t had time to process the meal yet. So don’t shovel your food down! You’ll be incredibly stuffed and have an unnecessary amount of calories in your body. Just take your time, and slowly enjoy the taste of your meal.
  • Frozen grapes are an awesome alternative to normal dessert. Trust me, I’m quite the fan of cupcakes and donuts, but having one of those everyday just won’t work for the average person wanting to stay in shape. I don’t believe we should ignore our sweet tooth though- that’s just setting ourselves up for failure. Instead, for those of you wanting to watch your diet, try freezing seedless grapes! There’s nothing added to them, but the grapes taste like a fun, bite-sized sorbet.
  • Drink lots of water and then drink even more. It’s estimated that up to 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. Humans need a lot of water to keep their body functioning properly, and most people only drink a couple of cups per day. We need at least eight! When you have a headache or feel drained, it’s most commonly due to dehydration. So what do you do if you’re not a fan of the taste of water? Try flavoring it with things like lemon, mint, or cucumbers!
  • Try almond milk instead of regular milk. If you’re not sensitive to dairy (aka lactose intolerant), congratulations! You’re basically the only person in the entire world who isn’t. Sorry to put this out there, but if your stomach hurts or you have to go to the bathroom quickly after meals, you’ve got a problem. Notice if there’s dairy in what you’re eating/ drinking. More likely than not, you’ve been consuming milk all throughout your life and never considered that it could be the thing causing you discomfort. Try almond milk instead- Almond Breeze (original; unsweetened) is my recommendation. I use it in all recipes instead of regular milk, and it tastes delicious!
  • Go to yoga. My boyfriend and I have been going to yoga two to three times per week, and that’s been my main source of exercise lately. I know a lot of people who do yoga as cross-training when they’re not jogging or biking though. Some of Stefan’s guy friends have been making fun of him for going to yoga classes and make it seem like some effortless activity for weaklings. All I have to say is- go to Power Yoga, Vinyasa, or an Astanga class, and then come back to tell me you didn’t sweat and your muscles didn’t burn. Didn’t think so! My body has felt more strong and powerful than ever because of yoga. I can do crazy stretches, headstands, and handstands that require core and arm strength that I never knew I could have. But the best part is the mental and physical rejuvenation you gain after going to class. My body feels free and bendy, and my mind got time to focus on nothing but the depth of my breath and the sensations of my body. Ommm.
  • Eat out at restaurants less. This one makes me sad, but it’s true. Restaurants pack our food with so much butter and salt that it’s insane. Food tastes more delicious that way! But if you’d like to live healthier, cooking your own nutritious meals at home is the best option. This way, you can control what ingredients go into your dishes.
  • Go for smaller portions. I know all of these tips sound so common sense, but you don’t know how many people I hear complaining about their weight and then heap a gigantic dinner portion onto their plate. It really is simple. We have to be aware of what’s going into our bodies. When I go out to dinner, for example, I know from the get go that I’m only going to eat half of what’s on the plate. I’ll literally half it, and enjoy that portion of the meal. The other half won’t even be considered- it will go home with me as my lunch for the next day. Simple as that, and the same goes for when you cook at home. So if the “eat until you’re comfortable” method is too relaxed for you, go for this half and half method!
  • Find a physical activity that you love. Explore different fitness classes and try out a variety of workout methods to discover what works best for you. Decide if you like working out alone, in small groups, or with a large class. Do you prefer hardcore, bootcamp style workouts or sassy dance classes with Latin music? Would you rather sweat with cardio or build up muscle? Have fun exploring your options, and decide to make fitness a social event that will keep you wanting to go exercise!

 

When it comes to physical wellness, I’ve found that you just need to listen to what your body wants and needs. It is naturally intuitive and will tell you exactly what’s best for it if you really listen deep down. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. You can handle so much more than you give yourself credit for. You can learn to do handstands or splits or compete in triathlons or run a marathon. All that’s necessary is putting in the day-to-day work by improving health habits and gradually getting better until you reach your physical wellness goal.

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On that note, here’s my physical wellness goal: I would like to run my first 5k before March 1st… and I’ll work up from there. Now this may seem like a simple goal to all of you cardio fiends and marathon runners out there- but for me, it’s big. I don’t run, like ever. I’ve tried to jog a few times, and I think it’s the worst thing on earth. BUT I just read an article about how people who run half marathons and full marathons make more money in business, because you build the similar skills needed for endurance running as you do in entrepreneurship. So I’m going to see if I have what it takes to become a runner- a huge personal challenge if I say so myself! 🙂

What habits do you need to change in order to improve your physical wellness? Do you have any other tips for us? Please share in the comments below!

Have a great rest of the week,

xo Caylee

 

Why I’m Not a Social Wellness Expert

social wellness

Hi everyone! Thanks for stopping by to read Part Five of my series, How to Create a Wellness Lifestyle. I could talk to you about how to form a thriving circle of friends and explain how to maintain these friendships throughout the years. I could even gush about what it’s like to be part of a tight-knit community who goes on retreats together and has monthly slumber parties with bottomless sangria fountains. I could, but I won’t- because I don’t want to be a lying hypocrite.

Honestly, building friendships is my weak spot and my open wound. It’s gone back and forth between being a dull pain and a sharp stab in my heart for many years. I’ve realized that I try to conceal my hurt by acting like I don’t need or want anyone in my life, because they’ll just prove to be another huge disappointment to me. But I actually crave deep, meaningful friendships- not just random acquaintances. I want a close group of girl friends who I can meet up with every week over drinks. I want to discuss our wildest dreams together and laugh about the ridiculous things happening in our lives. Okay, I think I’m describing the plot of Sex and the City, but you get my point! In all reality, I’m pretty jaded in the friendship department and don’t know how to get over years of that negativity.

I’m not going to go into major details about all of the friends in college who let me down or all the people who made me feel unloved and unworthy in my life, but let’s just say it’s enough to make me never want to be vulnerable in making a new friend ever again. So that you can get a quick picture, here are three more recent experiences off the top of my head:

  • I went to the University of Georgia where I didn’t know a single soul and was befriended by a group of three girls at the beginning of my first school year. We hung out all the time, ate every meal together, and had a complete blast. But when I didn’t get into the same sorority that they all got into, they dropped me completely. Not even another text message. When I passed them on the way to classes, they acted like they’d never met me. I felt so alone.
  • Almost all of my college “friends” stood me up (11 people!) for my 21st birthday dinner that I invited them to. They just never showed up and had no excusable reason even though I’d reserved an entire space in a restaurant for the celebration. The waitress kept coming over every few minutes to ask if more people would be joining me. It was hurtful and very humiliating.
  • I’ve lived in Miami for over a year now and the people I often hangout with through my boyfriend still don’t remember my name, They haven’t asked a single question to try and get to know me, and it makes me feel like I’m completely invisible.

I could literally come up with 5,000 other stories from my past similar to these, but you get the gist. I don’t even know if I just pick bad friends who hurt me or if I somehow deserve this treatment. In fact, now, I think I’ve turned into a bad friend myself because I push people away and stop contacting them. I don’t want to get close and be disappointed again. As you can see, it’s all a self-fulfilling prophecy- the social wellness part of my life is what I’d like to call a giant shit show.

Okay, I’m done with being emo! Sometimes we just gotta be vulnerable and get it all out there in the world so that healing can start to happen. So, what does one do when their social life is a crumbling mess? I have no freaking clue! I’m not the expert on this. Though I’m experienced and happy with the other areas of wellness in my life, having healthy friendships is not my forte. The only idea I have is to challenge myself to get out there and try to make a friend. It’s the only way to avoid permanent hermit-hood, right? If you’re feeling lonely or frustrated with your current friendships, give these things a try along with me. In the next month (by December 1st), I will:

1. Go to a Meetup. I think I could find some like-minded people in the following Miami groups: Borderlink (for travelers & curious, culture lovers), Pageturners (a book club), Girls in their 20’s, and the South Florida WordPress Group. I’ve always made friends through work or school though, so this will definitely be a nerve-wracking experience!

2. Ask the girl that I *click* with most at the Meetup to get coffee or brunch sometime soon. This is the hardest part for me. It feels like asking someone out on a date! What if I get rejected? GAH! Sorry for turning you down in the past, boys… I now know how it must feel!

3. Keep in weekly contact with my internet friends. Through blogging and using social media, I’ve started to build connections with some awesome ladies online. I just wish they all lived closer so that we could have beach days together! I’m pretty bad about staying in touch as much as I should to keep relationships alive, so this personality trait needs to change. Contacting each other on a regular basis is half the battle right there.

4. Hangout with an old friend. I desperately need new friends, but continuing to be there for old friends is just as important. Case in point, and my one bit of happy friendship news, is that I’m going to be the Maid of Honor at the wedding of my best friend since middle school! I’m so excited to experience these special life moments with her! Keep cultivating those old friendships- we all need wonderful witnesses to share in the memories of our lives. 🙂

5. Keep being open and vulnerable. Writing such a personal post and talking about my failings in friendship is hard for me. I would much rather keep going on with my life like everything is perfect and like I have a billion friends. But true friendships require each person to be vulnerable and invested. This will be the hardest, but most important, step that we all need to focus on in improving our relationships.

So are you feeling lonely in your social connections? Perhaps you have a lot of protective blockages, just like I do, that keep you from making new friends. If so, I’d love to hear from you. Share your thoughts, and let me know what you’re doing to cope. On the other hand, if you’re awesome at community building and consider yourself a friendship guru, then I’d LOVE to hear your strategies. In fact, it’d be great for you to guest post about it here! Email me at caypugh@gmail.com if you’re interested. 🙂

Have a wonderful rest of the week!

xo Caylee

Simple Ways You May Be Sabotaging Your Health Routine

serenbe vegetables
Establishing a consistent health routine that you enjoy can be a major challenge. There are so many temptations in life that make choosing to exercise or cook a nutritional meal seem like the least desirable options. (I’m looking at you bacon and macaroons.) So to give yourself the best chance for success, make sure you aren’t sabotaging your health through these behaviors:

 

You view making healthy dinners at home as a terrible chore.
One of the best ways to transform your health for the better is to start cooking your own meals. I see so much resistance to this in the United States where most of us choose to either go out to eat at restaurants or just heat up a processed, frozen meal at home. I get it- I love going out to eat! After a long day, the thought of working in the kitchen once you get home is a nightmare. But cooking really is key to knowing what’s in your food and having the power over your own health. Compared to restaurant food and frozen dinners, your own healthy meals will have far less sodium and fat, and far more nutrients. So decide to flip cooking on its head! Turn on some Cuban salsa music in the kitchen or have a conversation with your love as you cut vegetables. Take pride in learning how to satisfy both your hunger and nutritional needs with your own two hands. View cooking as an exciting, new challenge- your health will thank you.

 

You choose ways of exercising that are far away from your home or generally just a lot of effort to participate in.
Here’s an example. I see a fun opportunity to go kayaking every Wednesday with a South Florida fitness group but notice that I’d always have to drive an hour north of my house to meet them where they all live. Not to mention that I’d, of course, then have to rent the kayak and carry it over to the water (and back again later). I just stop things right there. It’s too much time and effort, and I know myself. Sure, if it was a one time kayaking trip I could convince myself to do it as a great, new experience. But to commit to participating in an activity that’s far away on a weekly, or multi-weekly, basis is just setting myself up for failure. For most of us, it goes like this: some days we’ll feel tired and not be in the mood to drive a long distance, then we’ll feel guilty and disappointed in missing the session, and then we’ll eventually stop going. Save yourself from that experience by choosing workout activities that are within a comfortable distance zone for you and that don’t take a ton of extra effort for you to participate in. Remember- you want to feel compelled to exercise on a regular basis, so make the whole process as easy as possible on yourself!

 

You don’t plan out your meals by the week.
Before I started on my summer travels, I was creating weekly meal plans for my boyfriend and I that detailed what we’d need everyday for breakfast, lunch, snacks, drinks, and dinner. I scheduled in two possibilities for meals out, preferably a nice dinner and a weekend brunch. Everything for my weekly shopping list was planned down to the ingredient. Eating in this way definitely goes against my personality type- I enjoy going out to dinner on a whim and picking the restaurant based on my current mood. But the truth is, if you want to eat healthily, you have to plan it out ruthlessly. If not, you’ll buy a whole bunch of random, expensive food from the store and not know what kind of dishes to make with all of it. A disgusting amount of food will likely end up unused and thrown away, and you’ll spiral into a pit of self-loathing every time you spot a grocery store. It’s happened to me a million times before, and the only thing that’s helped is planning meals, dish-by-dish, for the whole week. Boring, but true!

 

You sit down to unwind – watching TV, surfing the internet, looking at Facebook on your phone – right after coming home from work.
I know that all you probably want to do when you get home from work is sit down on the couch and relax for a bit. I understand. But that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea! To keep your momentum going, walk right through your front door and into your closet to put on your workout clothes and your sneakers. It will be a million times harder to get up in order to workout or cook a healthy dinner if you’ve already gotten more tired and comfortable in front of the TV. If you only remember three words I say, just remember: Don’t sit down!

 

You don’t make social time happen with exercise time.
We only have so many hours in a day, and the best way to maximize your time when it comes to exercise is to simultaneously make it friend time. Not only will you be bonding positively by getting in shape together, but you’ll also be making workouts fun and exciting by having a friend there. What could be better? By doing this, a positive correlation between exercise and happiness will be created, and you’ll also be building your sense of community. When I was living back in my hometown of Naples for 5 months last year, I joined an amazing, all ladies workout group called Blaze Fitness Fusion with a friend of mine. The workouts were always challenging, but what made me fall in love and keep coming back multiple times per week were all of the great women I was getting to know at the same time. So do yourself a favor- make a health commitment with a friend to keep exercising together and challenging each other.

 

You always talk the talk but never walk the walk.
A study discussed in Newsweek found that simply talking about a goal that we’d like to achieve gives us the same mental satisfaction as actually completing the goal. Keep that in mind as you scroll through pictures of yoga poses and healthy dishes on Instagram. Do you see all of these inspirational images and vow to your friends, “From now on, I’m going to juice every morning and practice yoga for 30 minutes before work”? For most of us, we get pumped and make big promises to the special people in our lives, saying that we’re going to work towards a new health goal. Honestly though, how many times does the goal achieving process stop there? We talk about the goal for a bit, feel happy, and then forget about it. Let’s catch ourselves and make sure that that we don’t get too satisfied with only talking about goal achievement- actually working towards our goals is what we should really be proud of!

 

So are you guilty of any of these forms of self-sabotage? I know I’ve certainly struggled with some of these issues, both in the past and present. The key is to remember that nobody can ever be perfect, so forgive yourself for past sabotage and decide that today is a fresh new day to begin again. Please share your thoughts in the comments below, and let us know if you have any extra tips for avoiding these behaviors. 🙂

Hope you’re having a wonderful week,

xo Caylee

 

Reasons to Fall Madly in Love With Georgia

When it comes to states in America, Georgia usually gets a bad rap. Many people either think it’s a smog-filled, traffic jammed wasteland or a place filled with tough, country cops and tractor-driving hillbillies. While there is a sliver of truth to these points, Georgia is truly a gem of a state that’s a mix of laid back, southern charm and trendy swagger.

During this road trip stop, I visited much of the Atlanta metro area – specifically the regions of Buckhead, Virginia Highlands, Serenbe, Conyers, and downtown Atlanta. My boyfriend, Stefan, was also in town for business, and as I walked around with a smile on my face, he remarked that I look so happy in Georgia. One of my favorite things about this state is that people actually say “good morning” to me as I walk by, where I might just get a suspicious glance thrown my way in Miami. I guess it’s the little things that impress me in life, guys!

Maybe I hold Georgia so close to my heart because it’s been a second home to me for my whole life. Some of my family lives in Atlanta, so we would visit at least twice per year as I grew up – and of course, I had to go to University of Georgia. Best decision ever. The more I come here, the more new, charming things I find to appreciate. This time was no different. Inspired by photos I took on my first road trip stop, here are some of the reasons I can’t help but fall in love over and over again:

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1. There are huge, leafy trees everywhere. This makes the hilly city streets look so incredibly lush and beautiful.

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2. You’ll see street-after-street of charming, craftsman-style houses with beautiful gardens just a block away from boutiques and restaurants. I want a place this cute! In Atlanta, explore a neighborhood called Virginia Highlands where, based on what I’ve visited so far, go to a casual tapas bar called Noche and a gift shop called Dakota J’s. The best thing to do here is just walk down the streets looking at all of the adorable homes!

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3. Georgia has basically every landscape a person could want. Rolling farmland? Check. Beach-lined coast on the Atlantic? Check. Mountain vistas? Check. Rivers, lakes, waterfalls? Well, of course.

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4. This state has ladies doing amazing stuff! Ashley, the super knowledgeable farm manager at Serenbe, got her first experience on a farm only four years ago. Before that, she’d graduated from college with a degree in business! Ashley came to Serenbe Farms as in intern, as she was interested in learning how to grow her own food, and she ended up enjoying farming so much that she’s been doing it ever since. I love when people find their passions.

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5. Georgia has tons of farmers markets and farm-to-table restaurants which fosters a tight sense of community. Most of the town of Serenbe gathers at the farmers market every Saturday to chat and buy their weekly vegetables. I think it’s a great concept to have a community focused on wellness and sustainability for families to raise their children in. Athens, Georgia also has a great farmers market & local food community that I enjoyed participating in while in college.

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6. It’s so easy to live a healthy lifestyle in Georgia! After exploring Serenbe and all of its boutiques, Stefan and I went on a walking tour of the beautiful Serenbe Farms. They sell 60% of their vegetables to local residents who have signed up for the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Every week the residents will get a big box of a wide assortment of vegetables that have been harvested. It’s a great way to get healthy, fresh foods and to try out new recipes every week. I did a CSA with a farm in Athens for a couple of years and loved it!

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7. This state has so many awesome restaurants and cafes that it’s crazy. Don’t even get me started on all of the bars and microbreweries. And if you ever decide to visit Serenbe, which I would recommend as a relaxing Saturday trip, you must get all of these pastries. They are the best. Ever.

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8. Georgia is where all of the cool kids go. Creative and laid back entrepreneurial types thrive here – just like this awesome little girl. Stefan and I saw a Top Chef shopping at the farmers market as we ate our breakfast. It’s obviously the place to be.

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9. Georgia Aquarium. Biggest in the world. Whale sharks. Beluga whales. Enough said!

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10. Want a place with a bunch of fascinating history and cultures to learn about? Georgia. For instance, I visited the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers where Trappist monks make money for the monastery through a variety of projects that are sold to the public. This includes: honey from beekeeping, homemade pasta and fruit preserves, and homemade fudge. The most interesting thing that the monks do, in my opinion, is sell bonsai trees that they’ve trimmed and taken care of for many years. Some of the most beautiful bonsai trees in their garden are being sold for several thousand dollars! It’s an amazing sight to see.

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11. Georgia is home to the best milkshake in the entire world. Drive all the way from whatever state you’re in to the OK Cafe in Buckhead, Atlanta and order a peanut butter milkshake. Right now! You will never regret it, unless you’re allergic to peanuts.

There you have it! I hope you can tell how passionate I am about this state. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to visit Athens this time around, which I could rave manically about, but I’ll save that for a later date. So have you ever gotten to know Georgia on a deeper level? What do you love about it? Let us know in the comments below. Also, please share this post on Facebook or Twitter if you love Georgia just as much as I do. 🙂 Next stop on my road trip: the Raleigh/ Durham area of North Carolina. Stay tuned!

Have a wonderful day,
xo Caylee

How I Deal with Struggles on my Road Trip

It’s finally arrived. Today marks the first major leg of my road trip – about 8 hours from Naples, Florida to Atlanta, Georgia. Due to my time constraints with packing and getting on the road on time, I’ll write a smaller post today about a common string of questions I get when doing a road trip:

Don’t you get so tired that you almost fall asleep at the wheel? Doesn’t it kill your body to sit for that long? Are you crazy?! Yes, yes, and definitely yes.

Road trips are my favorite way to travel, as I talked about in my last post, but I’m not here to tell you that they’re never challenging. Without a doubt, every single day, I’ll have to stop for a coffee or two along the way and take a break at several rest stops to stretch my legs and walk around. Each night before I go to bed, I’ll do a brief yoga sequence to stretch out my neck, back, wrists, and legs – spots that get impossibly painful after days in a car. It also helps to relax my mind by reading or meditating nightly, because, as we all know, driving can have its majorly stressful moments. I should know – on a road trip with my Dad several years ago we flipped our SUV multiple times in a heavy rain storm!

But, in my opinion, the most difficult aspect about road trips is the mental exhaustion that comes on without warning. My body might be completely alert and wanting to drive, but my brain will spontaneously decide that it wants to go into hibernation mode.  Even though I’ve been trying to avoid coffee in my life recently, it must be a staple on my East Coast drive. Besides that, my only hope to keep driving while tired is to listen to some awesome music or my books on tape. Great music has an uncanny way of waking me up as I sing along like a diva, and I get so sucked in to listening to audiobooks that the time flies by. Below are my two choices that’ll be on repeat during the entire trip. Because, let’s be honest, audiobooks are way too expensive to buy more than one!

Music to Listen to: MAGIC CITY HIPPIES – ROBBY HUNTER BAND

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Find the album here: https://soundcloud.com/robbyhunterband/sets/magic-city-hippies-1

Robby Hunter Band is a group of guys I know back in Miami, and they are CRAZY GOOD. This album actually released last year, but I’m still loving it as much as ever. They have some of the most fun and sultry songs you could ever imagine – perfect for summer. Check them out for yourself above!

 

Audiobook to Listen to: THE POWER OF NOW – ECKHART TOLLE

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The Power of Now is a huge book in the field of spirituality and self-improvement, and I feel super behind that I haven’t read it yet! Tolle doesn’t preach any particular religion, but instead, guides people to live in the now in order to find our true happiness. That’s as much as I can say at this point, but I’m excited to absorb myself into it along my 3-week journey.

Well, there you go! Do you have any methods that keep your mind or body feeling in tip-top shape while you drive long distances? If so, please let us know in the comments below. Any experienced road tripper will tell you that traveling by car definitely isn’t easy, but you’ll see some of the most beautiful sights of your life along the way. So relax, and enjoy the ride! Talk to you soon from my first big destination – Atlanta!

Have a beautiful day,

Xo Caylee

Two Books to Read This Summer for Self-Improvement

Calm Blue Sea Water Close-Up

If you didn’t know this about me yet, I’ve been obsessed with books since the day I started learning how to read. I always joke and say that, since I’m an only child, reading was the only thing I could do to make time pass by while growing up – but the truth is, I loved all of the different worlds, eras, and cultures I could meld myself into just through looking at some letters on a page. How amazing is that?!

Now that I’m a bit older, I still enjoy an engrossing fiction novel every now and then, but I’ve moved predominantly into the world of nonfiction. Interesting research books, memoirs, and self-help guides are all the rage in my mind. I’m always searching for more insight into human emotions and living more abundantly. More vibrantly. If you’re looking for two beautifully written books to read this summer in the area of self-improvement, look no further:

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Daring Greatly – Brene Brown

Making an impact from the first page, Brene Brown uses Teddy Roosevelt’s powerful quote above as an inspiring call to action – basically, find no shame in failing if you’re brave enough to fight for your cause in the first place. What Brown does in her social science research book, Daring Greatly, is crack open all of the painful, vulnerable feelings that we all have but don’t like to talk about – or even think about. Just contemplating these experiences bubbles up awkward feelings of shame in us.

What makes you feel like your inner soul has been stripped naked for everybody to witness?

Think of this: posting your illustrations (or writing!) online for the world to see and, therefore, exposing yourself to potential criticism, and perhaps even worse – public silence. Or, for instance, getting fired from a glamorous job and being too embarrassed to tell your parents. Or getting cheated on, but feeling so ashamed by it that you lie to your friends about the break-up. All of these situations, and more, make us feel completely bare, so we avoid talking about them. Additionally, many people reject doing the courageous things that the soul craves, because they believe doing them might reveal weaknesses. To diminish this pain, people choose to numb themselves through activities like overeating, drinking alcohol, shopping, or getting lost in video games.

In Daring Greatly, Brene Brown encourages readers to step out of their emotional comfort zones in order to own their life stories and connect with people on a raw level. She wants us to tell the truth about our lives. What scares us and makes us feel insignificant? Why are we so afraid to let our true selves be known? It’s because being vulnerable to people is incredibly difficult, and allowing it is something that we all have to work on consciously, everyday.

So put your values and passions out there for the world to see even if you’re afraid that people might think differently of you. Trust me – posting up my writing to this blog gives me shivers most days, but I still make myself do it. Just remember: if anyone doesn’t like you anymore after revealing your true self, they’re not “your people.” Be courageous – dare greatly.

 

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The Blue Zones – Dan Buettner

I’ll admit it. Nonfiction books can be kind of dry or too academic at times. The Blue Zones, by Dan Buettner, completely shatters that stereotype – it’s so interesting and fun to read that I never wanted to put it down!

The first time I was introduced to the concept of “Blue Zones,” was when I visited Costa Rica on a study abroad trip three years ago. It’s one of a small handful of countries that boast a zone with a statistically high proportion of active centenarians – people who live to be at least 100 years-old. Buettner and other world-renowned researches were fascinated by these zones of wellness and wanted to learn how so many people could live to be a century old.

In The Blue Zones, Buettner profiles several areas around the world with this high percentage of healthy, happy centenarians. Places include Okinawa (Japan), Loma Linda (California), Sardinia (Italy), and the Nicoya Peninsula (Costa Rica). The book dives into research findings for why these seniors are living so long and how we can live our lives that way too. The reasons for their long lives are both cultural and nutritional, but The Blue Zones will definitely inspire you to implement their strategies. After reading about several 103 year-old men and women still tending to their own gardens and laughing over a glass of wine with their other ancient friends, how could you not want to do the same? As you’ll learn in the book, genetics are only about 25% of how well we age – the rest is the lifestyle we choose to live. It’s in your hands!

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed my reviews and decide to take these inspiring and informative books with you on your remaining summer vacations. Just so that you know – I’ll be writing more specifically about “Blue Zone” lifestyle strategies in the future. So, if you’ve read these two books already, what were your thoughts on them? Do you have any other recommendations for great summer reads? Thank you, and please share below! 🙂

Have a fun weekend,

xo Caylee

The Importance of Following Your Intuition

Most people I’ve ever met seem to struggle with indecision while making major life choices. This is common in the human experience – we all feel scared that we’ll make the wrong decision and be led down a path that we never intended to go in life. We then resort to making a pros and cons list or talking endlessly with our best friends and parents to try and debate the correct answer to our problems right out of each other. But how many times have you settled on a life decision and then changed your mind again less than a day later, because you somehow talked yourself out of it?

The truth is – nobody in the entire world knows the correct answer to your dilemmas and life choices better than you. The problem is that you need to follow your inner intuition first.

I’ve had a great deal of experience in this method of inner decision-making. Usually, I’m really good at following my intuition, and I’ve found it has never steered me wrong. But there’s been a couple of big instances, in recent rears, where I desperately didn’t want to hear what my intuition was screaming to me.

The most major time was in relation to an ex-boyfriend who I’d hoped more than anything was “the one.” He had everything going for him and was such a fun, thoughtful guy, but when he invited me to permanently move up to the Northeast with him to start his shiny new career, my insides froze. Not just froze, but shut down. Every time he would mention our future plans together up North, I would get sick to my stomach and feel trapped in despair. He was being just as sweet as ever, but I became depressed and developed major anxiety issues. Now, if I’d just listed to my intuition that was yelling to be heard, I would have ended it then and saved us both a lot of drawn out hurt. Instead, because I didn’t want to believe my intuition to be my truth, I ignored it and played our emotions back and forth for many months. “I want to be with you” changed to “I can’t be with you” in a matter of days – it was emotionally exhausting and devastating for both of us. In the end, we obviously broke up for good, but it left us with more emotional baggage and dark memories of each other than if I hadn’t avoided my blaring intuition about the situation.

So how do we become better at listening to our intuition? Since everybody has varying physical and emotional reactions when intuition is trying to steer you, I believe the most important thing you can do is to be in-tuned with your body – listen to it. Recognize how it feels when everything is normal and then the difference in feeling when something is wrong. Here is an example:

A completely non-threatening looking guy comes and sits down next to you at a bar. You know from your experience of listening to your body that usually when a nice-looking man approaches, you might feel a little shy and have a slightly higher heart-rate due to that. But as this man starts talking, your chest clenches up tightly, your hands feel disconnected to your body, and you feel an unexplainable sense of fear in the pit of your stomach.

PLEASE LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. You don’t want to find out why your body was having a terrified reaction to that man. It is so important to hear what your body is telling you in any situation or decision. Intuition is your deep, subconscious way of telling the social version of yourself exactly what you want. The subconscious will usually win in the long wrong, because it’s trying to lead you towards happiness. You might as well listen to it in the first place!

Next time you’re needing to make a big decision, go over all the choices in your head using vibrant imagery like it’s actually happening. Imagine what the outcome of the various choices would be, and listen to how your body feels with each one. Does one make your stomach clench? Do you suddenly feel a tinge of sadness? How about a feeling of joy or relief? Don’t ignore these emotions – I guarantee that if you follow this intuition regularly, you will always make the best decision. Just like I should have made the hard decision with my ex-boyfriend and broken up with him sooner – sometimes, the hard answer is still the right answer.

Don’t let your future be dictated by a pro and con list or what your loved ones think is best for you – only you can feel the right choices for your life. So what are your experiences with listening to your intuition? Have you ever had an experience like me and ignored your intuition? Please share your stories in the comments below! 🙂

Wishing you a happy Monday,

xo Caylee

 

The Gutsy Girl’s Summer Bucket List

Grab a pencil and paper, guys. It’s not too late to start making an awesome summer bucket list.

In my eyes, all fleeting things in existence deserve a bucket list to be made for them. They seem to create a sense of urgency in the way that we only have a set amount of time to finish something meaningful to us. A bucket list allows us to remember our goals more easily and gives a sense of achievement when we can mark our pen through each item.

There has been a bucket list for all occasions – One for all of the new things I wanted to try before college graduation a few years ago, one for what I hope to accomplish before I turn 30 years-old, one for all of the big ticket experiences I want to have before I die… And one for awesome activities to do this summer.

Since summer is already half-way over, I’m gonna have to move quickly to cross everything off of my list! For the record, I’ve never once completed all of the items on any of my dozens of bucket lists, but I have a special feeling about this summer. It’s going to be a crossing-off-my-bucket-list-bonanza! Want to join me? Here we goooooo!

 

  • Go to a local farmer’s market & learn some of the vendors’ stories. Getting to know where your food comes from can be such an interesting experience, and the farmers are often very passionate about what they do.
  • Learn something new & document your progress publicly. I would like to learn a new song, by heart, on my ukulele and then upload it onto the blog.
  • Plan a picnic at the park with someone meaningful in your life. Bring a supply of food you know they will love, and enjoy a few hours lounging outside together.
  • Try out a new type of yoga or fitness class that is outside of your comfort zone. Krav Maga? Kundalini yoga? A Bollywood dance fitness workout? Do it!
  • Make a new friend in your industry. Try to partner up on a small project, do a guest blog post swap, or interview each other for new business insights.
  • Finish 3 great books & write reviews to share with others who you think could benefit from reading them too.
  • Do something absolutely crazy – live with passion and purpose. Fall in love. Try an improv class. Start the amazing thing you’ve been too afraid to fail at. Be vulnerable and let your genuine, imperfect self be seen. Go whitewater rafting. Take a road trip. Just do something brave. Yes, please.
  • See a play or live show that is outside of what you’d normally enjoy. You might just discover something new to love!
  • Go on a nature hike & and make a mandala with all of the outdoor goodies you find along the way (twigs, flowers, rocks, leaves, etc).
  • Paint a canvas using just your intuition. Don’t plan it out and draw a picture with pencil beforehand – just create, wildly in the moment.

The Challenge:

So if you’re with me in trying to cross off this summer bucket list, let’s make a whole social media event out of it! Your challenge, if you choose to accept it, is to cross off as many of these list items as you can before September 1st. Use this blog as a jumping off point for inspiration! Write posts about your experience completing the bucket list challenges, and link back to this blog and let me know you’re participating. At the beginning of September, I’ll do a blog roll featuring your links and the awesome bucket list items you’ve achieved this summer. Also, if you’re a Twitter or Instagram fan, take this step below to feature our Gutsy Girl themed pictures together:

Think about it… We have a limited number of beautiful, bursting-with-life summers to enjoy in our time here on Earth. Be gutsy, and make this summer a passionate one. 🙂

Have a wonderful weekend,

xo Caylee