winter is coming

Hi all! It’s been awhile since I’ve posted, but I’ve been so busy lately with work, social events, and spending time with family. It’s getting chilly outside and for those of you living in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, we’ve already witnessed our first sticky snowfall of the season.

I am the Lorelai Gilmore when it comes to snow. I live for the crisp air and that cold smell that means snow is on the way. When I was younger I jumped on the “I hate Winter” bandwagon but the truth is, Winter is beautiful. Winter is a season that defines holidays  like Christmas, The New Year, Valentine’s Day, etc.  Winter means HOT coffee, big comfy sweaters, peppermint flavored drinks and treats. Winter is time for warm boots, over-sized hats and mittens. It means heated blankets, movie nights, and let’s be honest… hibernation.

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If you’re like me, you’re really excited for some down time and Winter is the perfect time of year for down time. You might feel like Winter causes us to become lazy and boring. Perhaps it’s true on some level however it doesn’t have to be the case in most instances. Here are a few low-key, but exciting activities to do this Winter (some involve escaping hibernation, though!)

  1. Dust off those books on your shelf (or Kindle)! Winter is the perfect time to start reading your heart out. I mentioned heated blankets, hot coffee, big comfy sweaters – why not enjoy all of these things with a book in hand? There’s nothing I love more than snuggling in bed and reading for at least an hour before getting some shut eye. It’s such a relaxing way to end the night. Put yourself up to reading at least five books this Winter. If you’re looking for recommendations – try www.goodreads.com as a drawing board for your to-read list.
  2. Host movie nights – I use the word host very loosely (you can host a movie night for yourself too!) But instead of going out into the cold, invite everyone in! Movie nights with hot chocolate (or wine), popcorn, and snuggly pajamas is the perfect way to spend a Friday night after work or even a Sunday afternoon when you’re just needing time to wind down after a busy week or weekend.
  3. Make fun dinners at home – skip going out! One of my favorite dinners to make at home is homemade pizza. There are various crusts you can buy at the store for an easy assembly of the perfect pizza. My favorites pizza flavors are Hawaiin or Spinach/Goat Cheese/Mushrooms. The beauty about making your own pizza is that you have total control over the ingredients.
  4. Minimize your belongings – Winter is the perfect time to look at what’s inside your home to assess what’s taking up too much space and what’s causing clutter. We spend so much time outside during the warmer months that we often forget about de-cluttering and organizing inside the home. I’ve been working really hard to get rid of clothing, accessories, makeup, etc. that I don’t use so I am always able to choose my favorite products and outfits when I get ready in the morning. Order a clean-out bag from ThredUp for an easy way to sell clothing (and they’ll donate what doesn’t sell, too!). By the time Spring rolls around, you’ll have a clean closet that’s ready for new, fun items (can you say Spring shopping spree?).
  5. Try new home workouts – My least favorite part about working out or going to a class is physically getting into my car (probably scraping off ice and snow first) and enduring the morning cold just to get a workout in. If you’re feeling intimidated by the cold, try finding some home workouts to enjoy. Tone It Up is a free website with weekly workouts that are accommodating and accessible. There are also many YouTube videos (this can really suck you into a rabbit hole!) that are effective for home workouts. My favorite kettlebell workouts are by BodyFit by Amy. If you’re really wanting to ‘get comfortable with being uncomfortable’, try Jillian Michael’s various videos – my favorites are Yoga Meltdown, Trouble Zones, and her 30 Day Shred series.
  6. Get outside and be active! Ski, snowboard, ice skate, take walks, snow shoe, ice fish – there are so many winter sports and recreational activities at the tips of our fingers. Many people forget the Midwest has some inexpensive yet entertaining parks and hills to explore during the winter. Bundle up and explore the outdoors with friends and family, whether it’s in an ice shack, a ski lodge, a state park, or simply around local trails, you’re bound to enjoy the sights and the company.
  7. Visit a local brewery or distillery with friends. Often times Winter forces us to stay inside, so why not do so with a drink in hand while playing board games or trivia with friends? Taste the new Winter taps and socialize with a flight or two.

I hope you’re a little inspired to keep busy during the Winter months. It’s okay and obviously normal to avoid the cold weather. If you’re loving the chilly temps, and you’re really in love with snow, start a weekend morning with a walk outside with some hot coffee. Winter is beautiful and we should embrace it (of course, depending on the wind chill…am I right). Perhaps I’ll be whistling a different tune in a few months, but right now I’m ready for some cozy nights and holiday cheer. 

xo Karen

foodfreedom30

Hey all! What a crazy fall it’s been so far! I don’t know about you but my brain has been going a million miles a minute trying to tackle all of my to-do’s across work and, well, life in general.

In my last post, I talked about planning to do a Whole30 in October. At first, I was psyched about this – my 4th Whole30! What an accomplishment! But then…

I started planning for the Whole30: I was picking out recipes in my Whole30 Cookbook, buying compliant dressings, creating a food prep log so I could prep and track my meals diligently. And then it hit me: I don’t actually want to do this.

As I was preparing, something in my gut was telling me, “You’ve done enough rounds of Whole30”; “You really need to focus on your Food Freedom”; “Why don’t you make your own rules for once instead of following the program?”..okay, okay.

Now, Melissa Hartwig, do not take this the wrong way – Whole30 is an awesome program. I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a guide to mend their relationships with food, to break bad habits, and identify any problematic food groups. But I’m totally ready to graduate Whole30 University and put my skills to good use in the real world. 

At first I brushed off my reservations of doing another round and contributed it to FOMO and laziness. However, it’s dawned on me that I need something more, something different. I’ve had SO much success with my three rounds of Whole30. I’ve identified gluten as a sensitivity. I’ve identified baked goods and sugar as problems. I’ve used my food sensitivity test results as a guide to take my elimination diet. I have done my studying and my research. I’m ready to spread my food freedom wings and leave the Whole30 coop.

That is exactly what I need to focus on. How can I apply what I’ve learned and make my own rules?

So, I’m sorry for those who were looking forward to me documenting a standard round of Whole30 – but to me, this is much more exciting! I’m going to post about my Food Freedom. I’m going to share how the program has allowed me to make my own rules and live a life of health, intention, and balance. I’m going to do my FoodFreedom30 (that’s not a real thing to my knowledge but I feel that it completely defines what I’m trying to accomplish) and use what I learn to define my own life and health goals.

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Food Freedom Plan (30 days):

  1. Log my meals and snacks in a food journal. MyFitnessPal is a great app to do this, however, I’m not looking to count calories or track macros. I’m talking about mindfully tracking what I eat with pen and paper (I’m using Eat Pretty’s food journal). Is there a reason I ate that candy bar? Did I really need two servings of that mac and cheese? At the end of the day, how do I feel? Did I practice mindfulness and self-control?
  2. Learn how to portion my food. Portion sizes are a huge problem for me, and well, I know I’m not alone on this. We are tempted with massive portions wherever we go. America is all about being bigger and better and well, our portions are certainly bigger but that does not equate to better. I’ll be using Whole30’s Meal Planning Template to help me with this.
  3. Allow myself one “takeout” lunch per week. Okay, so I usually eat some variation of salad or grain bowl for lunch if I am eating out, however, my goal in this rule is to be diligent about meal prepping. Why do I buy lunch? Well, usually it’s because I did not take the time to prep my meals. Plus, my bank account will certainly thank me.
  4. Define special occasions. A special occasion is NOT a random Tuesday happy hour after work. A special occasion is an outlier in your normal routine that calls for celebration, and gathering with loved ones. Only I can define what special occasions mean to me. Here are a few special occasions that I can think of off the top of my head:
    1. Family visiting/seeing family
    2. Seeing a show or a concert
    3. Vacation/traveling
    4. Attending a sporting event
    5. Celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, etc.
    6. Holiday gatherings

I can tell you, special occasions don’t happen often. Hence the word special. Nailing down what this truly means to me and following my own blueprint is still a work in progress, but I am determined to tackle this head on. Challenge Accepted. Follow my FoodFreedom30 on Instagram for some inspiring meal prep ideas. A special thanks to Melissa Hartwig for writing Food Freedom Forever ; a book that has inspired to take on this next chapter of my health journey.

Xo Karen

 

**Again, none of my posts are sponsored advertisements for products or programs. These are my own experiences and my intent is to share what’s worked for me, and inspire you all to do find what works for your health and wellness journies**

fall refresh

 Hey all!

It’s finally feeling like Fall! I live for this chilly weather and all of the beauty Fall brings to the trees this time of year. But speaking of chilly weather…

Remember wayyyy back in January 2017 when you may or may not have made some New Year’s resolutions? Maybe some resolutions were made to improve your health, like increasing your trips to the gym, eating less sugar, drinking less alcohol. Maybe some of you have lost sight of your initial goals for 2017 – but good news! The year is not over yet. You still have one more season to give it all you’ve got to work toward your goals.

Sometimes we lose sight of our goals and perhaps lack some discipline during the summer months. I’m here to tell you,  it’s OKAY! Humans are not robots. As much as I love routines, food prep, and schedules, they aren’t always prioritized when we’ve got so many fun activities to do and events to attend during the summer months.

Whether or not you’ve made New Year’s resolutions – ask yourself if you could use a little end-of-summer reset. For me, I’m always feeling a little sluggish and bloated at the end of summer because Minneapolis has too many fun patios and rooftops to frequent during the warmer months.

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My 2017 resolution is to attend 100 group fitness classes. I am almost to 80 classes with only a few months left of the year to finish strong!

If you’ve been nodding your head in agreement to the first part of this blog post, check out these ideas for a Fall refresh*:

  1. Whole30**: The Whole30 program has really changed my life and helped me understand my relationship with food. I’ve done three Whole30s and am about to start another in October (if you want to do this with me, let me know!). For those who aren’t aware of what Whole30 is – it’s a dietary reset and elimination diet that helps you understand which food groups are causing inflammation in your body (resulting in weight gain, brain fog, headaches, digestive distress, skin issues, poor immune system, etc.). It also helps you identify foods that you’re literally addicted to and helps you kick those addictions to the curb. The free program requires you to only eat whole foods (meat, fish, poultry, veggies, fruit, nuts, seeds, and good fats) for 30 days, which allows your body to reset from processed foods and added sugar. Take a look at the www.Whole30.com for more information about the framework and how to get started. The Whole30 online platform is booming with resources, shopping lists, forums, blog posts, etc. to guide you through your Food Freedom journey.
  2. Cut out the alcohol: Alcohol is a staple in the Standard American Diet. There are countless happy hours, holidays, birthday parties, and weddings that all have some sort of boozy fun involved (a glass of wine here, a pint of beer there). Now that summer is winding down, try eliminating alcohol for a couple of weeks just to see what happens. Does your skin clear up? Does your complexion get brighter? Do your pants fit looser? Is your digestion calmer? Are you sleeping more soundly? Is your bank account happier?
  3. Add in one more day of fitness to your weekly schedule: Is there an area of the body or muscle group you haven’t given much attention to lately, or a type of exercise you haven’t done in a while? Try mixing in some variety to your exercises and perhaps adding in another day of fitness to your weekly schedule. Start a new routine or a class you’ve been meaning to try. Groupon** has great class package deals if you’re looking to experiment with group fitness at local studios.
  4. Get one more hour of sleep per night: Now, this can be difficult for some people but if you can (and I really think you should consider trying), try to get an extra hour of sleep per night. One extra hour of sleep can be the cure for needing that second cup of coffee in the morning. Not to mention, cold and flu season and is right around the corner. Boost your immune system with more rest to keep your body and mind strong during the winter months. Take away the screen time before bed and you may find you have a few extra minutes to dedicate to your pillow.
  5. Colon cleansing: I’m new to colon cleansing, but I did one colon cleanse through Blessed Herbs** in August. I was intimidated by all of the colon cleansing kit options available for purchase, so I chose the “Revive-5 Day Cleanse Kit” since it’s labeled as a “starter cleanse”. This cleanse does not require any fasting and was extremely manageable for me. The cleanse helped me get rid of built up waste and toxins in the body, which in turn helped me de-bloat and feel more energized throughout the day. If you’re interested in trying a colon cleanse, do your research and CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR OR NUTRITIONIST. Colon cleanses are not for everybody.

I hope I’ve got you thinking about ways you can end 2017 strong. The beauty about health and wellness is that everyone is different; there is not a ‘one size fits all’ approach to health. Take this time to discover what works for you, and how to finish out 2017 stronger than ever.

 

*Each person has different goals and needs. If you’re interested in changing your diet/nutritional habits, or beginning a new fitness/health journey, make sure you’re working with a professional to guide you through the process.

**This blog post is not sponsored. All products, companies, and programs mentioned above are recommendations based on my own experiences.

entrepreneur spotlight: sarah key

Hey all! If you recall in my pilot blog post, I’m going to be posting bi-weekly Spotlights. Spotlights are blog posts about other people and their passions, experiences, successes, etc. that will hopefully motivate you to be your best self and chase after your dreams. Today’s post is an Entrepreneur Spotlight featuring one of my former college housemates, Sarah Key, as she talks about her business journey. Enjoy!

∗What were the turning points and/or motivators in your life that inspired you to start your own side business?
Honestly, the main thing that made me think about starting my own side business was the fact that I wasn’t able to do the thing that brings me the most joy in life as often as I liked: travel. Starting a business with flexibility and unlimited income potential was a huge motivator. Life is way too short, and I didn’t want to wait until retirement to live our dreams. 
 
My husband and I love to travel and he is a photographer, so traveling is our main priority. We didn’t want to have to sacrifice on visiting a new place on our list because of finances or time. 

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I chose Rodan and Fields because I know the insecurities that are a result of skin concerns. Insecurities take over and crushes any confidence you have, and that is not an exaggeration. I know from experience. No one should ever have to live with a skin insecurity when there is a solution out there. I wanted to be able to help others realize there is a solution and if I could also help others change their life with our business, even better. 
There are plenty of side business options out there. I would highly recommend if you’re not happy with where you are, your finances, or what your life looks like, be open to learning about these options and take the time to invest in yourself. 
∗What are the challenges you’ve faced so far? How are you overcoming them?
People not believing this side business will ever amount to anything. I have big goals for my Rodan and Fields business and it’s hard for some people to wrap their minds around it. I overcome that challenge by focusing on why I’m doing my business and believing in myself to truly make my dream life come true. Why not me? Why not you! Also, when people doubt my abilities to do something, that is motivation right there not to give up.
Another challenge is the big learning curve for entrepreneurship. I never thought I would be going down this path, but here I am, and I am forever grateful for my friend Ali Zieman who introduced this opportunity to me! I knew nothing about skincare before Rodan and Fields, I knew nothing about running my own business, I had no clue how I was going to make this work. But I’m learning while I help others. I’m learning while I earn. I’m learning while I get closer to my dream life. I love to learn and grow, and this opportunity has given me a chance to continually grow personally and intellectually, and in return has allowed me to help others do the same. 
 
∗Although it’s early in your journey, what advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Never quit. Ever. You started on this journey for a reason. Always go back to that reason when things get real tough. Because they will. It is a roller coster journey, but it is so worth it. Knowing you are working for your dream life (not someone else’s dream) and that you WILL make it happen is so rewarding and motivation enough to keep going! 
 
∗What resources help you succeed? 
A strong support system. Starting on a new path in life that is not considered the typical “right” path to follow is hard. Your friends and family may not understand why you’re doing this, which could make it hard for them to support you. That is ok. Join entrepreneur groups in your town, talk to friends who get it. You aren’t alone, you just have to find your tribe to help you through the struggles of entrepreneurship and to celebrate the best times that come with entrepreneurship. It may take your family or friends time to come around to what you are doing, but know you will be celebrating with them one day soon!
∗What are you favorite books, blogs, and podcasts that continue to inspire you through your journey? Do you have particular role models?

This list could go do FOREVER! I am a sucker for personal and business development in the form of books and podcasts.
 
Some of my favorite books are: “You are a Badass” by Jen Sincero and “She Means Business” by Carrie Green.
 
My favorite podcasts are: Happier with Gretchen Rubin, From the Heart: Conversations with Yoga Girl, Your Virtual Upline, and Creative Empire.
 
I also subscribe to pretty much every Travel magazine out there. I am always finding new places to travel to and explore. And when I can’t be traveling, it helps itch my travel bug a bit.
I wouldn’t say I have one particular role model. Any strong woman making a name for herself is my role model. I get so inspired by hearing how other women are out there making their dreams come true and overcoming every possible obstacle. I also really respect women that share their struggles in their journey. This isn’t an easy road and no one should think they are the only one struggling!
 
I am also lucky to have many, many successful women in my company to look up to as role models. One of my favorite parts about being with Rodan and Fields is that everyone is there to help everyone succeed. Whether you are at the tip top of the organization or just began today, we are all trying to help each other out.
Long story short, my role models are women who motivate other women to follow their dreams and make it happen. We have one life to live, mine as well make it awesome!
 
∗How can others join the R&F business?
It’s pretty simple to join our R+F team, just make the decision you want a change in your life and jump in! More specifically, let’s talk to see if this could be a right fit for you. If it is, we get you signed up and then the fun begins! Feel free to shoot me an email sarahvkey@gmail.com and we can set up a time to chat.

values

When I was 21, just graduating college, I wanted nothing more than to be the age I am today, in the position I am today, living the life I am today.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m incredibly lucky. I’m fortunate to have a stable income that allows me to spend time with people I love, to travel, to save money for the my future home and family.

The thing is, I have everything I need but only about six months ago I felt more lost than ever. The quarter life crisis is REAL, and I really had to take a step back and start evaluating what’s important to me and how I want to spend my time.

Introducing: discovering your Values. 

The Minimalism movement and lifestyle have introduced me to the concept of Values and has helped me define what my Values are. My Values should be the basis of how I spend my time and how I progress in life. Common values are the foundation of great friendships and relationships. They are guiding of all of my decisions I make on a daily basis.

*To learn more about values in the context of the Minimalism movement, take a look at Minimal Wellness: Values post and The Minimalists: Values podcast. I challenge you to dig deep and start constructing a list of your own values.

In The Minimalists’ podcast, Values (link above), Minimalists Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus break down Values into the following hierarchy (the descriptions are my interpretation of the meaning of these different values):

Foundational Values: Highest order, overarching across many facets of life
Core Values: Principles that guide your decisions and behaviors
Minor Values: Things or experiences that make you happy on daily or weekly basis
Imaginary Values: Concepts or things that we perceive to have value but are actually obstacles that prevent us from aligning with our other values

Now, I could list out all of my Values, but I’m not here to necessarily talk about me.  I want you to take some time and become self-aware of what drives you to spend your time and money in specific ways.

I will tell you, I truly thought some of my Imaginary Values were my real Values. It wasn’t until I felt the internal imbalance that led me to discover the reality about myself: I am very much introverted. I value my alone time. I become exhausted and irritable when I am out forced to be around strangers and large groups for long periods of time (like holiday parties or packed night clubs). My whole adult life, I defined myself as a true extrovert, until I started realizing how happy I was to embrace my introvert personality. A weight has been lifted off my shoulders as I  spend the majority of my time in more relaxing, intimate settings that allow me to easily reflect and escape from the chaos that is life. 

Self-awareness is a beautiful thing. Understanding your Values is absolutely essential to living your best life. 

Happy soul searching!

xo Karen

 

pilot

blog1Hi, I’m Karen. Welcome to my blog! This is a safe space where I will share my experiences, thoughts, and inspirations. This is my blank canvas and I hope these thoughts serve you well (and maybe even inspire you). My end goal is to be happy and healthy, and to find balance and peace in an extremely terrifying world. I’m a millennial woman residing in the beautiful city of Minneapolis, Minnesota. You might ask me, “what do you do?”. I do a lot of things. I try to be as intentional as possible with my limited hours of the day. Why spend time doing things you don’t love? I go to coffee shops to enjoy hazelnut coffee and dirty chai tea lattes. I try new recipes. I sweat my ass off at yoga and barre classes. I run, slowly. I read books to unplug from the constantly rushed world we live in. I frequent happy hours and sushi bars with coworkers and friends. I binge watch Netflix series and spend many weekends viewing various documentaries (mostly about food). I travel as frequently as I can with my love (near and far!) and will share our adventures through this blog. I enjoy taking photos of visually appealing landscapes, skylines, and food. Professionally, I am an IT project manager. I’ll probably get into that in a different post, but that’s all you need to know about work right now.

Regular posts you’ll see:

  • Featured Recipes
  • Bi-Weekly Spot Lights
  • Book Reviews and Recommendations
  • Blog posts born from motivational experiences and inspirational people

Disclaimers:

I’m not perfect nor do I strive to be. This blog would be so boring if that were the case.

I’m not a professional writer; my grammar isn’t perfect anymore so please bear with me.

I’m not a nutritionist, but I like to experiment with foods and holistic lifestyle approaches to discover what works for my mind and body.

I’m not a personal trainer but I’ve experienced ‘falling off the wagon’ and have discovered my own motivators to get me back on track to being strong and healthy.

I’m not an expert. In anything. Literally. You’ll see.

I am, however, real. I’m emotional, motivated, and loyal. I’m inspired to be the best version of myself every single day. I’m a person with feelings, goals, and frustrations. Consider this my journal; an avenue to share real and raw experiences as I navigate through my 20’s and beyond.

If you’re a visual person like me, follow my Instagram account [@kdahl.mpls]. I’ve become good at capturing life through an iPhone lens.

the natural healing force within each of us is the greatest force in getting well ~ hippocrates

xo Karen