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Posts Tagged ‘goals’

How do you spend your time, dear reader? I know I am not always the best steward when it comes to managing my time. However, I have made strides in the area of time management since reading 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam. While we all have the same 168 hours a week, we spend those hours differently. Keeping a time log of how you spend your 168 hours is a worthwhile endeavor when trying to accomplish goals. January is the perfect month to keep a time log and track exactly how you are spending your 168 hours.

Therefore, I joined Laura Vanderkam’s annual “Time Tracking Challenge” which will start on Monday 10 January. She will send out an email on Sunday with details about the challenge. After I log how I spent my 168 hours for the week, I will analyze my time log to see exactly how much time I have left (after work, sleep, and family commitments have been deducted) to work on my aims for 2022. I actually enjoy tracking my time and will track it periodically throughout the year, especially when I feel overwhelmed or feel like I am not making any progress with my goals for the year.

In addition to tracking my time next week, I am also participating in Gretchen Rubin’s free New Year’s Resolution Challenge which she announced on her podcast this week. The challenge starts on Sunday, 09 January, and for 7 days, Gretchen will text you 7 tips “for making (and keeping) effective resolutions.” I have done SMS challenges with Gretchen before, and I enjoy them.

I am off to a great start with accomplishing the items on my 22 for 2022 list. Time-tracking is the first item on my list. My time log will help me accomplish the second item on my list, which is to tweak my morning routine. I am excited about the upcoming week and embracing CHANGE. Happiness!

“It’s how we spend our time here and now, that really matters. If you are fed up with the way you have come to interact with time, change it.” ~ Marcia Wieder

Note: Photo at the top is by Giallo on Pexels.com.

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Happy New Year, dear reader! Welcome to the beginning of a new year with endless opportunities waiting for us to experience, explore, and embrace. I am excited about 2022 for many reasons which will emerge as this year unfolds.

CHANGE is my word for 2022. I have been craving change for my life for quite some time, and Hurricane Ida has inspired me to engage change. Today, I am enthusiastically embarking on a journey to change several areas of my life.

In addition, I created a 22 for 2022 list with my aims for the new year. Most of the items on my list are new; however, I did carry over six items from last year that I did not complete but feel they will encourage me to make changes this year. Take a look at what I have planned for myself for 2022.

Kat’s 22 for 2022 List

1. Time-track in January.

2. Tweak morning routine.

3. Make consultation appointment with oral surgeon (implant).

4. Learn a 30-60 second monologue.

5. Buy a new vacuum cleaner.

6. Get wedding rings resized.

7. Clean out and organize master closet.

8. Plant new garden in front of the house.

9. Purge paper and organize file cabinet.

10. Go paperless (bills and statements).

11. Scrapbook monthly.

12. Complete Year of Gratitude scrapbook.

13. Have a Year of King (Stephen King).

14. Update theme (layout) for blog.

15. Research video editing software.

16. Complete a puzzle.

17. Write a will.

18. Revisit A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle.

19. Read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.

20. Complete the WordPress Blogging course.

21. Take a WordPress Podcasting course.

22. Take Becky Higgins Classroom: Photo Tips + Work Flow.

Other Plans for 2022:

  1. I am participating in Gretchen Rubin’s #Rest22in22. Basically, you rest for 22 minutes every day in 2022. According to Gretchen Rubin, “Research shows that rest is an essential element of working well and working smart. Working for long stretches without breaks leads to stress and exhaustion. Taking time to rest can refresh the mind, boost productivity and focus, and replenish mental energy.” Rest will look different to me from day to day depending on my schedule for the day; however, rest could be taking a nap, meditating, reading, drinking a cup of coffee while sitting on my front porch, or talking with a friend.
  2. On Goodreads, I joined the 2022 Reading Challenge, and my goal is to read 50 books again this year. Follow me on Goodreads (Katherine Loyacano).
  3. I will continue reading daily (#Read21for21) for at least 21 minutes per day, so no day goes by without having read something for pure enjoyment. Instead of reading nonfiction books during this allotted time, I have chosen to read children’s literature. This will allow me to track the number of books I read during that time frame and read the piles of unread books I currently own in that category.
  4. I will continue participating in the Chills, Thrills, and Kills Book Club.
  5. I will continue doing Collabs with Kelsi. Our collabs can be viewed on her YouTube channel, Slime and Slashers – A Nostalgia & Horror Channel. Consider subscribing to Kelsi’s channel in 2022.
  6. I will continue my walking streak and walk daily for at least 20 minutes (#Walk20in20).
  7. I will participate in Frugal February again. This is a NO spend month.
  8. I plan to keep a TA-DA list for 2022. This list is for goals or activities that I accomplished throughout the year but were not included on my original list. These accomplishments should be celebrated, too. 
  9. In 2021, I did an Instagram project called #yearofgratitude2021 which I plan to scrapbook. I posted a picture every day of someone or something I am grateful for in my life. This year, my Instagram will focus on JOY and is called #yearofjoy2022. Follow me on Instagram (katherineloyacano).

As you can see, dear reader, I have quite a bit planned for this year. What do you have planned in 2022? Have you made some resolutions or a 22 for 2022 list? If you could choose a one-word theme for this year, what word would you choose? I would love to know what your plans are for this year. You can comment on this post or email me at katloyacano@gmail.com. Happiness!

“If you are going to reach your goals and create the life you desire, you will have to make new choices that will lead you to new actions.” ~ Debbie Ford

Note: I do not own the image in this post, nor do I claim to own this image. 

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Many of you know I am a superfan of Gretchen Rubin and her work on happiness and good habits. On her podcast back in September of 2017, she talked about writing a “TA-DA list” if you are feeling dragged down by your to-do list. This year, I decided to keep a TA-DA List of activities I participated in or endeavors I accomplished throughout 2021, so I would not beat myself up too much for not completing everything on my 21 for 2021 list which I reviewed yesterday on my blog.

TA-DA 2021

  • Instagram (Year of Gratitude Project)
  • Collabs with Kelsi (Movie Musicals, Holiday Horror, Zombie Awareness Month, Slashers, Fear Street Trilogy, Halloween, Christmas…check out her fantastic channel for horrorific content)
  • Live Streams with Kelsi (books and horror movies)
  • Became Mr. Mike’s Godmother at the Easter Vigil (attended weekly RCIA classes with him; huge honor)
  • Travel (visited Helen in Colorado in April; visited my Aunt Carolyn and cousins in Utah in July)
  • Scrapbooking (attended TAC Scrapbook Event with Shelly, Heather, and Donna in June)
  • Weekly lunches with friends and family (part of summer fun list)
  • Created the Chills, Thrills, & Kills Book Club with Kelsi (meet and greet was in April; monthly Zoom meetings)
  • Zombie Awareness Month
  • Completed Level 3 Improv Class (in-person in June)
  • Improv Showcase with The Improvables (June)
  • Friday the 13th Date Night with the Hubster (August)
  • Survived Hurricane Ida (still dealing with the aftermath; currently in recovery mode)
  • Survived Tendonitis in my right wrist (finally had to get the shot)
  • Welcomed Ice Cream Bar to the Family
  • Halloween Decor Shopping with Kelsi (October)
  • Vlogs (Hurricane Ida, First Day of Fall, Halloween Decor Shopping/Thematic Fun Day with Kelsi)
  • Halloween ReadaThon
  • Mrs. Slides in the play, The House on Haunted Hill, at the Columbia Theatre (October/November)
  • Successfully throwing Mrs. Billie a surprise 90th birthday party
  • Halloween Fun List
  • Christmas Fun List
  • Christmas Evil Challenge

As you can see, dear reader, I kept busy in 2021 even though I did not cross off every item on my 21 for 2021 list. I am absolutely grateful for all of my experiences this year. Every single one of them carried a blessing into my life, making it richer and creating wonderful memories. Although I am a planner by nature and love setting goals and making resolutions, I also enjoy learning and trying new activities. When opportunity knocked, I opened the door and accepted whatever adventure was across the threshold. Life is truly an adventure. Happiness!

Ta-da list: I was surprised to learn that many people get very fired up by making a ta-da list. By reminding themselves of everything they’ve already accomplished, they find the drive to continue.” ~ Gretchen Rubin

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Today is the first day of my much-needed winter break. What a perfect day to reflect on my 21 for 2021 list! I chose FOCUS as my word for 2021, and for most of the year, I did a pretty good job. I completed nine items on my list and sort of completed two others.

  • Manage time. YES (accomplished this item by periodically tracking my time and then scheduling my time weekly)
  • Maintain a regular fitness regimen. YES (accomplished this item by walking at least 20 minutes daily)
  • Create weekly meal plans. SORT OF (only during the nine-week Fast Burn Challenge; beneficial)
  • Eat more vegetables. YES (proud of this accomplishment; tried new recipes; will continue)
  • Try intermittent fasting for one month (Clean & Lean). YES (accomplished with Fast Burn; same author; continued intermittent fasting since the Fast Burn Challenge; beneficial)
  • Declutter and organize each room in my house. NO (too ambitious; need to be more concrete)
  • Write a will. NO (procrastinating and don’t have any clue why)
  • Try one NO spend month. (accomplished this – Frugal February; beneficial; will do this again in 2022)
  • Revisit A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle. NO
  • Complete The Four Tendencies course (Gretchen Rubin). NO
  • Read Atomic Habits by James Clear. YES (accomplished this item; beneficial; recommend to anyone who wants to develop good habits)
  • Read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. NO
  • Create a vision board. NO (procrastinating)
  • Take a WordPress Blogging course. YES (still working on this course; like the P2 community; made a friend across the pond, fellow blogger Rita; beneficial; renewed for 2022)
  • Take a WordPress Podcasting course. NO (did not make the time; renewed for 2022)
  • Purchase podcasting equipment. NO
  • Complete Write a Bestseller course (Jeff Goins). NO
  • Try 12 new restaurants (one per month). YES (not one per month, none in February, September, or December; 18 new restaurants for the entire year; 4-Colorado and 4-Utah)
  • Take Becky Higgins Classroom: Photo Tips + Work Flow. NO (disappointed that I did not accomplish this item; will attempt in 2022, especially since I will be doing another Instagram project)
  • Scrapbook at least two times per month. SORT OF (January, February, March, June; needs to be a priority for 2022)
  • Learn how to use my Cricut Maker. YES (thanks to Shelly; took online workshop; beneficial)

Additionally, I participated in two reading challenges which I am still participating in until the end of December. I joined Gretchen Rubin, her sister Liz, and the rest of the Happier community in the #Read21in21 challenge where I read daily for 21 minutes. I read only nonfiction books for this challenge. I joined the Goodreads Challenge again and set my goal to read 50 books in 2021. The nonfiction books read for #Read21in21 will be included in that total number of books. In addition, I kept a TA-DA list for 2021. I will be sharing more information on all three of these activities in the coming days.

Overall, I think I did pretty well with my 21 for 2021. I knew when I made my list last December that it was a bit ambitious, especially wth all the courses. However, once COVID restrictions relaxed with vaccination numbers increasing, I was not much of a homebody like I was in 2020. In addition, the impact of Hurricane Ida on my home and in my community affected some of my plans. I am still dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Ida. Nevertheless, I remain hopeful that our home will be back in order soon (praying for January), and Andrew will be back in his bedroom before the start of the spring semester at SLU. We FINALLY got a new roof last Friday, and sheetrock installation in Andrew’s room happened on Saturday.

I am currently working on my 22 for 2022 list and will reveal it and my new word for the year in January 2022. In the meantime, dear reader, for the rest of today, I will read, go for a walk, watch television, basically enjoy the first day of my winter break. Happiness!

“Aim at the sun, and you may not reach it, but your arrow may fly far higher than if aimed at an object on a level with yourself.” ~ J. Howes

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Greetings, dear reader! On Sunday evening, I completed a second round of Fast Burn. On Monday morning, I weighed in at 152 pounds, gaining back 3.5 pounds of the 13 pounds lost in the first round. With that being said, I did lose 1″ in my chest, and 1/2″ in my hips. My measurements stayed the same for my waist, arms, and thighs. Did I meet the goals I set back in June for Round #2 of Fast Burn? Yes and no. Clearly, I did not lose an additional 10 pounds. While I did complete another nine-week round of Fast Burn, I did not follow it as closely as I did for the first round.

So, what did I do? I continued intermittent fasting; however, my TRF schedule changed week-to-week between 16:8 and 14:10; this was based on what was going on in my life during the nine weeks. I walked between 20-30 minutes every day. I started following a run/walk schedule (see sidebar for the schedule). I continued to incorporate the Burner Smoothie, the Sumptuous Strawberry Shake, as well as lots of fruits and veggies in my eating plan. I observed the rule about waiting two hours (sometimes longer based on TRF schedule) after waking to eat and stopped eating at least two hours before bedtime.

So, what didn’t I do? I did not bike very often or incorporate any strength training. I did not eat as clean as I did during the first round (incorporated some added sugar/processed foods back into my diet). I was not consistent with drinking a glass of water before meals. I picked certain weeks in the nine-week plan and followed those weeks instead of following the weekly schedules outlined in the book.

Initially, after weighing in on Monday morning, I felt I should have waited a couple of weeks before doing another round. After reflecting on it throughout the week, I now feel completing a second round right after the first round was ideal for me. Even though I did not follow the Fast Burn plan as perfectly as I did the first round, I still incorporated many of its components. And, we all know that we cannot rely on the scale to tell the whole truth when it comes to weight loss. My body measurements dropped in two areas and stayed the same in other areas. My clothes fit exactly the same as they did when I completed the first round. Additionally, I can see the difference with how I feel when I fuel my body with the wrong foods. I do not like feeling unhealthy.

What’s next?

I want to read Clean & Lean by Dr. Ian and complete the 30-day plan in the month of September. My original goal for 2021 was to try intermittent fasting for one month using the Clean & Lean book. However, when Dr. Ian published Fast Burn: The Power of Negative Energy Balance in April and created the Fast Burn Challenge Facebook group, I could not pass up that opportunity. And, I am so happy that it has worked out the way it has because the Fast Burn Challenge group is both inspirational and supportive. It also helps me with accountability. The Cleaner Get Leaner group also provides inspiration and support. Therefore, between the two groups, I’ll continue to receive inspiration and support.

Additionally, I will continue my fitness plan that will include the run/walk schedule and as many of the exercises outlined in Clean & Lean. Maybe, just maybe, it will give me the nudge I need to put strength training exercises back into my fitness regimen on a regular basis. I do not want to slip back into bad habits. I now have plenty of resources to hold me accountable and keep me on track to live my healthiest life.

Kudos to everyone trying to eat better, getting back into shape, and improving overall health and well-being. There are so many benefits to eating well and exercising daily. It makes me happier, healthier, more energetic, and more creative. Thanks for reading, dear reader. I hope you have a fantastic weekend. Happiness!

“It takes time to see wholesale changes, so don’t obsess on a scale or a mirror. In fact, it’s a lot more likely that someone else will notice physical changes before you do.” ~ Ian K. Smith, M.D., Clean & Lean

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In order to get back on track and reFOCUS on my goals for the remainder of the year, I tracked my time for two weeks (week of 02 August and week of 09 August). Both of these weeks started out with 168 hours on Monday at midnight. Since school has reconvened after being on summer break for the last two months, my day job (instructional coach at a PreK2-8th school) and sleep take up the bulk of my time. However, the hours at my day job have been reduced this school year; I am currently working four days per week as opposed to five days when I tracked my time back in January. The reduction in work hours will ultimately allow me to spend more time on creating content and embarking on a new career path.

Week 1: 02 August – 08 August

During this week, I worked 32.5 hours at school and devoted 52.75 hours to sleep. This left me with 82.75 hours to spend in other areas of my life.

That being so, how did I spend those remaining 82.75 hours?

  • Morning Routine: 11.25 hours
  • Travel (to/from work; to/from other places): 4.75 hours
  • Family/Fur Babies/Friends: 9.75 hours
  • Chores: 7.25 hours
  • Exercise: 5 hours
  • Errands: 4.5 hours
  • Read: 3 hours
  • Meals: 5 hours
  • Content Creation (blog; collaboration with Kelsi-YouTube): 20.75 hours
  • Evening Routine: 3 hours

Therefore, 74.25 hours were spent with family/friends, exercising, creating content, fulfilling commitments/life responsibilities, and completing household tasks. My time bank still had 8.5 hours, and those additional hours were spent on other activities, such as playing games (Trivia Crack/Words with Friends), interacting on social media (FB and Instagram), texting, phone calls, checking email, time-tracking, watching television/movies/YouTube videos, or puttering around the house.

Week 2: 09 August – 15 August

During this week, I worked 33.5 hours at school and devoted 51 hours to sleep. This left me with 83.5 hours to spend in other areas of my life.

In that case, how did I spend those remaining 83.5 hours?

  • Morning Routine: 11 hours
  • Travel (to/from work; to/from other places): 6.75 hours
  • Family/Fur Babies/Friends: 8.75 hours
  • Chores: 6.5 hours
  • Exercise: 4.5 hours
  • Errands: 8 hours
  • Read: 3 hours
  • Meals: 3.5 hours
  • Content Creation (blog; collaboration with Kelsi-YouTube): 8.75 hours
  • Evening Routine: 2.25 hours

Therefore, 63 hours were spent with family/friends, exercising, creating content, fulfilling commitments/life responsibilities, and completing household tasks. My time bank still had 20.5 hours, and those additional hours were spent on other activities, such as playing games (Trivia Crack/Words with Friends), interacting on social media (FB and Instagram), texting, phone calls, checking email, time-tracking, watching television/movies/YouTube videos, or puttering around the house.


Clearly, no two weeks are exactly the same. And, all the banked hours are not entirely spent on effortless fun. Some of that extra time gets spent on small tasks that just take a minute or two, such as writing a grocery list, a message in a card, or a check for a bill. I may be purchasing an item or researching ingredients for a meal online. I might spend a few minutes clearing off the kitchen table, reshelving books that I recently finished reading, or snapping a picture for my Instagram gratitude project. With that being said, if I take the average of both weeks, I realistically have 14.5 hours that I could be using to complete courses that I have purchased, scrapbook, read more, or strength-train (fitness). It is now up to me to prioritize my time which will ultimately help me achieve my goals. Additionally, I must adhere to that scheduled time that also includes built-in wiggle room.

Why is wiggle room important? You just never know when something unexpected will require your attention, such as getting a call back for a play you auditioned for earlier in the week. Yep, I auditioned at the Columbia Theatre for The House on Haunted Hill this past Monday evening. Surprise! I got a call back for Wednesday evening. I auditioned strictly for the experience since I had a conflict the second weekend of the show. While it would have been terrific to be a part of this production, I did not get cast which is fine because Kelsi and I have oodles planned for September and October. Happiness Boost!

Thankfully, I have only one commitment after work this week, and it is to spend a wonderful evening with my fabulous book club friends to discuss Mexican Gothic. Therefore, for the remainder of today, I will schedule my upcoming week and create a to-do list of the tasks that I need to accomplish before this weekend. As for my running schedule, I’m on Week #4: Walk 10 minutes (warm up). Run 2 minutes. Walk 1 minute (repeat this 3-minute session 5 times). Walk 10 minutes (cool down). My goal for this week is to follow this routine at least three days this week. On the other days, I will walk at least 20 minutes to keep up my walking streak and try to incorporate some strength training and biking. I did not strength train or bike this past week.

Life is unpredictable, dear reader, but that is what makes it so interesting. My hubby, Andrew, and I enjoyed breakfast this morning at Cracker Barrel, and I treasured every minute we were together just being together. I’m excited to start a new week, especially one that is practically a blank slate. Enjoy your Sunday afternoon by spending your time doing something that boosts your happiness and adds value to your life. Happiness!

“When you feed your soul by spending time on things you love, that you are excited about, your enthusiasm becomes contagious.” ~ Rita Davenport

Top photo by Juan Vargas on Pexels.com

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For the most part, I consider myself a patient person. However, I recently learned that I am selectively patient. I had a few days where I was in a sort of holding pattern that forced me to play the waiting game. Initially, it caused me stress, worry, and unhappiness, but then it necessitated several days of quiet reflection. The universe was telling me to slow down and rest. So, I listened and took a break for a few days. I watched several episodes of The Good Place, read, spent time in prayer, reflected, watched a couple of horror movies, read and reflected some more when I realized that I have been in a state of impatience for the last couple of months.

“Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections, but instantly set about remedying them – every day begin the task anew.”

~ Saint Francis de Sales

When I started this year with my 21 for 2021 list and a schedule to accomplish the goals on that list, I was optimistic and energetic because I had a plan. I quickly realized a couple of weeks into January that decluttering and organizing each room in my house was not going to happen. It was difficult finding the time to devote to that task with everything else I wanted to accomplish on my list, so I nixed it in February and planned to revisit it later in the year. Unfortunately, I have not revisited that task since I put it on the back burner and have not even attempted to start many of the other ones on my list.

I really thought that once I wrapped up commitments in April and returned from my trip to Colorado, I would hit the ground running and check items off my list left and right. Instead, I modified one of the items on my list that took more time than was allotted (intermittent fasting), added new activities for the summer (summer fun list), and abandoned some items altogether (completing courses) which led me to becoming distracted, overwhelmed, frustrated, and unproductive concerning my goals. Ultimately, I grew impatient with myself because I set too many goals that required a huge amount of time and commitment and veered off course by creating more options. This epiphany finally hit me when I got sidelined days after writing about my mid-year checkup on my 21 for 2021 list.

The silver lining is I can recuperate from this bout of impatience since I now know what I have been dealing with these last couple of months. I must take the time to re-evaluate my goals for the year, make a few decisions, adjust some of my goals, and restructure how I plan to spend my time for the remainder of this year. I want to have a new plan in place before school starts again in August.

In the meantime, dear reader, I leave for Utah tomorrow morning to visit my Aunt Carolyn and my cousins for a week. I look forward to spending time with family while enjoying a change in scenery. This trip will be a nice way to change my mindset, gain a little clarity, and recharge my batteries. Happiness!

“Patience is power…it waits on the right time to act, for the right principles and in the right way.” ~ Fulton Sheen

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Photo by Polina Kovaleva on Pexels.com

We are at the mid-year point in 2021, dear reader, and it is time for me to evaluate the progress I have made on my 21 for 2021 list thus far. Yesterday marked the end of the second quarter, and I am pleased overall with the progress that I have made from April-June. I not only tried intermittent fasting for one month, but I also created weekly meal plans and maintained a regular fitness regimen. I joined the Fast Burn Challenge on 19 April and for nine weeks followed Dr. Ian K. Smith’s program outlined in his newest book, Fast BurnThe Power of Negative Energy Balance. Since I successfully lost 13 pounds, I am participating in a second round of the program. My hope is to lose another 10 pounds by the end of this nine-week cycle. In addition, I tried seven new restaurants (four just in Colorado) in the second quarter which brings my total up to nine new restaurants in the first half of 2021. I only have three more to go to reach my goal.

The only two goals that I did not reach during the second quarter is completing the WordPress Blogging course and Gretchen Rubin’s The Four Tendencies course. Additionally, I did not scrapbook at all during April or May. Honestly, I have had a difficult time managing my time since I returned home from my trip to Colorado. After really thinking about it the last few weeks, I have come to realize that COVID-19 restrictions started loosening up about that time and are almost nonexistant at this point since many people have received the vaccine. Like so many other people, I am doing more (a great deal more) since the first quarter of the year. Therefore, my schedule has changed dramatically because I added new commitments and summer activities to my schedule, and I am spending less time at home. Basically, this means that I will need to be a bit more strategic with managing my time, so I can accomplish both the items on my 21 for 2021 list and enjoy all the fun additions on my schedule.

So, what’s next for the third quarter of the year?

The third quarter (July-September) will essentially look similar to the first half of the year. I will continue to manage my time, eat more vegetables, focus on my health and wellness goals, and scrapbook at least two times per month. Before tackling any new items on my 21 for 2021 list, I will work on completing the WordPress Blogging course and Gretchen Rubin’s The Four Tendencies course. I have quite a few fun activities scheduled for July, and school starts back on 02 August. I want to be realistic with how I will be spending my time this next quarter without getting too overwhelmed.

In regards to the fun activities happening in July, one of them is a Summer Slasher Movie Marathon that officially starts today. Kelsi and I will be doing this marathon together and plan to chat about it. Originally, I had chosen 10 movies for the marathon; however, Netflix is releasing three Fear Street movies this month based on R. L. Stine’s Fear Street book series, so I added them to my list.

I will also be reading quite a bit during July. As many of you know, Kelsi and I started a book club, Chills, Thrills, & Kills Book Club, back in April of this year, and we really love our group. Our members are awesome, and we have had some delightful discussions. Our book club selection for this month is Children of the Dark by Jonathan Janz. It is our third selection for this year. Our first selection was Later by Stephen King (May), and our second selection was Video Night by Adam Cesare (June). Both books are terrific reads. I am 86 pages into Children of the Dark and enjoying it up to this point.

Today starts the third quarter of 2021, and I am hopeful (as always) that I will spend the next three months accomplishing some goals while having fun and boosting my happiness. With that being said, it is time to reFOCUS and get started. Happiness!

 “The moment in between what you once were, and who you are now becoming, is where the dance of life really takes place.” ~ Barbara De Angelis

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Greetings on this fantastic Friday afternoon, dear reader! I officially completed the Fast Burn Challenge on Sunday evening. On Monday morning, I weighed in at 148.5 pounds, losing 2 pounds in Week #9 and ending the nine-week challenge with a total weight loss of 13 pounds. I also lost 3″ in my waist, 2″ in my hips, 2″ in both thighs, and 1″ in my left arm (weird, I know).

I learned a great deal about myself on this challenge, and I’m pleased with my overall results. I surpassed my goal of losing 10 pounds, ramped up my exercise, tried new recipes, planned and prepped meals (most weeks), increased my water intake, ate lots of fruits and vegetables, and incorporated intermittent fasting. At the beginning of the challenge, I chose a TRF schedule of 12:12. Midway through the challenge I increased my TRF schedule to 14:10. I finished the challenge with a TRF schedule of 16:8.

What are my takeaways?

First of all, the Fast Burn nine-week program is NOT a diet, but a roadmap to a healthier way of eating. It is a lifestyle that incorporates clean eating, intermittent fasting, and regular exercise. Second, it is an effective plan IF I put in the work. I will get out of it what I put into it. Third, making good choices through planning is the key to successfully becoming a healthier version of myself. Fourth, it helps to have people in my life who support my healthy lifestyle changes. My hubby is supportive and even helped prep and prepare many of my meals during the challenge. Being a member of the Fast Burn Challenge Facebook group has been beneficial. Also, blogging weekly about my journey on this challenge held me accountable, and quite a few of my dear readers cheered me on each week.

For me personally, starting a journey to better health requires the right mindset. And, my mindset is naturally affected by external factors. I am an emotional eater. Sugar, junk food, fried food, and processed food are what I reach for when I’m stressed, overwhelmed, or unhappy. I have been down this weight-loss road numerous times as an adult and have tried many plans and programs to lose weight and get physically fit. I am successful for a little bit, but at some point I fall back into my bad eating habits and abandon regular exercise. The COVID-19 pandemic derailed me this last time. I had adopted clean eating habits and lost 13 pounds back in September 2019 after reading Dr. Ian K. Smith’s book, The Clean 20. He had been a guest on Molly Kimball’s podcast, Fueled: Wellness + Nutrition with Molly Kimball, and they were talking about the benefits of intermittent fasting and his Clean & Lean program. Weeks after listening to that podcast episode (“Intermittent Fasting, Explained: 18 July 2019), I bought his book Clean & Lean and joined the Cleaner Get Leaner Facebook group. Instead of starting that program, I opted to read The Clean 20 first to develop better eating habits with the intention of adding intermittent fasting at the beginning of 2020. Then, the pandemic hit, the world shut down, and I ate my feelings. I gained back my 13 pounds plus some.

On 23 March, I started walking daily for at least 20 minutes per day. Many days it was longer because there just wasn’t much to do with everything shut down. In April 2020, Dr. Ian published another book called Mind Over Weight which I read in May and completed the written exercises with the intention to start my weight loss journey using the Clean & Lean program on the first of June 2020. June came and went, as well as the rest of 2020 and the beginning of 2021, and I never started my journey. I did NOT have the right mindset. Try intermittent fasting using the Clean & Lean book found its way on my 21 for 2021 List. I was determined to try it during the second quarter of this year; however, Dr. Ian published Fast Burn: The Power of Negative Energy Balance in April, so I bought it, joined the Fast Burn Challenge on Facebook, and started my journey to better health on 19 April 2021. And, here I am now, 13 pounds lighter with the desire to lose more. My mindset has shifted, and I’m determined to stay on this path to better health. It is a choice, and my future self will thank me.

There are so many benefits to eating clean. I have more energy and no longer feel sluggish throughout the day. I do not crave sugary, fried, or processed foods. There are days now that I crave a veggie plate with a cup of brown rice. That’s not to say that I will not indulge from time to time. However, planning for that occasional “treat” works best for me.

I have proven to myself that I can make good choices when dining in a restaurant. If I want to eat chili cheese fries once in awhile, I will eat them and enjoy them. Dr. Ian states on page 250 of Fast Burn: The Power of Negative Energy Balance, “It’s completely fine to have a good steak and French fries and even a slice of double chocolate cake (my mouth is watering just writing that!), but it’s important that you add these foods back in moderation, not just in their frequency but also their quantities.” Basically, make good choices the majority of the time, so you can periodically enjoy your favorites without guilt or negative consequences.

What’s next?

I have decided to complete another nine-week round of Fast Burn. I love this program! I love the variety it offers as well as its flexibility. Currently, I am on Week #1 and doing the 16:8 TRF schedule. That schedule may change the week in July when I am in Utah and possibly when I return to school in August. I will continue biking a couple of days a week and walking daily (at least 20 minutes). I would also like to add a day or two of strength training each week.

I’m excited about my new goals for this leg of the journey. My weight loss goal is to lose another ten pounds which I hope I can exceed again this round. My fitness goal is to start running again when I return from my trip to Utah. I follow a run/walk schedule for about 10-12 weeks that eventually allows me to run for 30 minutes. I bought a running magazine for additional motivation. When I can run for 30 minutes, I can run a 5K race. If my 52-year-old body can handle it and with more COVID restrictions dissapating, there may be a 5K road race in my future.

Well, that’s a wrap, dear reader! I won’t be writing every Friday about the second round of Fast Burn; however, I’ll update my progress every so often. Once I start my run/walk schedule, I’ll include that information for anyone who may be interested in starting a running habit of their own. In the meantime, many thanks to everyone who has cheered me on during my journey to better health. I hope you have a wonderful weekend. Happiness!

“You now know what it takes to win. Take the lessons learned, keep your mind focused, and be confident as you stay in the fight!” ~ Ian K. Smith, M.D.

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Happy Fast Burn Friday, dear reader! I am currently in Week #9 of the Fast Burn Challenge. On Monday morning, I weighed in at 150.5 pounds. I lost .5 of a pound in Week #8 with a total loss of 11 pounds since 19 April. I attended a scrapbooking event last weekend and did very well with both my eating and exercise goals. My friends and I did not go to Bud’s Broiler, so I did not splurge on chili cheese fries. I am only a couple of days away from completing this challenge, and I could not be more excited about my progress.

This week has been much easier than the past two weeks. I can eat three meals and three snacks (100 calories or less) per day. Last week was tough with only two meals. Thankfully, my hotel room had a refrigerator, so I packed healthy foods for my scrapbooking weekend.

My friends and I ate at a restaurant together only once while at the scrapbooking event. We went to Mano’s where I ordered grilled fish with veggies and a side salad. The meal also came with french fries, rice, or mashed potatoes, but I did NOT get any of the three sides. Honestly, I didn’t miss the additional side.

Drinking one cup of lemon water per day has been added back to the guidelines for this week. I drink my cup of lemon water in the morning. My IF schedule has also changed to 16:8, and surprisingly, it has not been hard adjusting from 14:10. Frankly, I kind of prefer it.

Now, I will be totally transparent. I did splurge this week, and I do NOT feel one ounce of guilt. It is the first and ONLY time that I have splurged on the Fast Burn Challenge. Two of my fabulous friends, Michelle and Maria, drove to Hammond on Wednesday to visit with me. We went to Streetside Market for lunch, and I ordered the Sautéed Beef with Broccoli (sautéed beef stir-fried, mushrooms, broccoli, onion) on a bed of Golden Rice along with an eggroll. IT WAS SCRUMPTIOUS! And, I ate every bite.

Sautéed Beef with Broccoli

Needless to say, I did not need to eat a third meal or two of my snacks on Wednesday. I felt totally content with my decision because I knew that one “treat” would not derail all of my hard work on this fast burn journey. It was a conscious choice that I had planned for ahead of time. I think it is perfectly fine to indulge from time to time. Key words, “from time to time.”

Kudos to Me for…

  • meeting my daily water intake goal.
  • meeting my TRF 16:8 goal.
  • continuing to eat more veggies.
  • meeting my daily exercise goals.
  • planning my meals and snacks for the week.

Challenges

Well, this week I made a poor decision concerning dinner on Tuesday night. I had planned to eat black bean soup for dinner, but did not have time to consume it before leaving for my improv class. Since my class is an hour away, I packed two Frosted Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop Tarts with half a pint of milk and ate my dinner on the way. My meal was planned; however, my time was not planned very well. This also happened to me once during Week #3. As I have mentioned before, planning is the key, not only the meals and exercise, but also my time. I woke up late on Tuesday morning and fiddle-faddled for a couple of hours even though I had plenty of tasks to complete on my to-do list. When I have a scheduled evening activity in the future, I need to get up on time and not procrastinate or postpone a task until the next day. Another solution could have been to pack a turkey and cheese sandwich to eat on the way to my class.

It is hard to believe, dear reader, that my nine-week journey participating in the Fast Burn Challenge is coming to an end. While the challenge may be ending, my journey to better health is really just beginning. I’m eager to see my total weight loss when I weigh-in on Monday morning. I’ll publish a post next week revealing my total weight-loss, any changes in my body measurements, my overall thoughts about this plan, and my future goals concerning my health and wellness journey. Happiness!

“Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.” ~ Greg Anderson

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