Go for Your Goals

It feels like forever since my last post. So much has happened in the last few weeks and I am so excited to tell you all about it!

I also want to apologize for going MIA for a few weeks there, I was very busy and the last thing I want to do is treat this blog like a chore. I started it as a way to share my thoughts and finds with my friends. To have so many of you ask me when my next blog post was coming made me realize how many awesome people I’m surrounded by in my daily life and online. Thank you for reading and for bringing so much happiness into my life!

So without further ado, after weeks of training, practicing and prepping, I can finally say that I am an instructor at The Barre Code!

It’s no secret that I have loved TBC since I moved to Chicago, but going through this process has taught me so much about myself and The Barre Code community, that I felt inspired to share some learnings from my journey with you.

The first thing I have learned from all of this is that all of us can do anything we put our minds to. If you would have asked me a year ago if I would be working two jobs, one as a fitness instructor, I would have laughed. In early October, one of my favorite instructors asked me if I had ever thought about becoming an instructor and I laughed then, too. I am so thankful that I finally started believing in myself the way the people around me did. This leads me to my next point…

You are whatever you want to be. By that I mean, your mentality truly is your reality. The attitude I had towards myself and my goals was the determining factor of my success every single day of this training process.

If I had confidence, I did what I was supposed to, showed improvement and felt great about my work. If I went in as a Debby downer, you bet your booty I choked and felt awful about what I did that day. I cannot stress enough how much your mindset impacts your daily life. If you think you can, you’re halfway there. That’s probably written on a teabag somewhere, but it’s true and I love tea, so that’s fine.

Throughout training I have met countless strong, fabulous, fierce women that have shown me what being welcomed into a community feels like, and let me tell you, it feels pretty awesome.

The ladies I trained with, the absolute rock stars who trained us, the entire staff of The Barre Code and all of the amazing TBC clients have made me feel so loved. After months of living in a new city and trying to find “my thing” I couldn’t be happier to know that I have not only found it, but turned it into something I get to share with some of the coolest women I have ever met, every single day.

If you are feeling like you’re in a transitional period of your life, the advice I want to give you is to actively seek out something that makes you happy and commit to it. It doesn’t matter what other people think, because the people who care about you will think it’s just as awesome as you do. Shout out to my roomie boyfriend, Scott, for listening to me practice, trying his best to “tuck and squeeze”, and for having the ice cream and wine ready to go after a long day.

Real talk, things that might feel silly at first (like writing a blog), sometimes end up bringing you the most joy.

If you love to cook, take a class and see where it leads you. If you’re a runner, join a running club. All of these things sound simple, unless you let self-doubt kick in. You might think to yourself, “oh, I don’t know anyone here” or “I’m not that good” or “I’m too busy”. If you think that, then guess what? You’re right.

The moment you start believing in yourself is the moment you unleash your full potential. Start doing the things that make you feel uncomfortable, because growth happens outside of your comfort zone. Another teabag line – I don’t care. Still true.

I got dragged into a Barre Code class in the beginning of the summer by my (very talented) friend, Madalyn. I left with a hamstring cramp and a reality check. I found something I wasn’t great at, but knew I liked.

I felt silly in that studio, but I found something that gave me attainable goals to work towards. I took an hour a day for myself – an hour a day to challenge my mind and body. I entered a community of women that lift each other up, make each other laugh, and hold each other accountable. I gained new friends, discovered new confidence and even found some new muscles I don’t think I’d used before. I turned something I liked to do into something I love to help others excel at. I am so thankful for the people that led me to become an instructor. I can’t wait to continue learning and growing as a person as I begin my journey at The Barre Code.

If you’re in Chicago, I would love to have you in class! Send me a message for more info.

I hope you are all having an amazing holiday season and finding your own happiness, wherever that may be.

Love, Leigh

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Smile at Yourself

Like many women, I am often told to smile more by men on the street. Every time this happens, it leaves me with an uncomfortable feeling. I get a pit in my stomach that sticks with me for the whole day.

I think the reason why it feels so intrusive when a stranger demands that you smile is because a genuine smile is one of the most valuable things you can give to someone. The reflection of joy that you present when you smile is special and should never be faked or forced.

A stranger demanding you to smile did nothing to warrant a joyful display of appreciation…but do you know who did? Do you know who deserves recognition for bringing you happiness? You. 

When was the last time that you smiled at yourself? Not to check your teeth for lipstick, but to see the real-time happiness in your own face?

As you know by now, I exercise at The Barre Code. Each studio has mirrored walls that allow you to check your form while you work out. Often times you are right up at the barre staring at your reflection in the mirror.

Sometimes during class I meet my own eyes in the mirror and am surprised by the intensity and fire I see in myself. What is more surprising, however, is how little we smile at ourselves.

It always seemed weird to me when the instructor would say, “look at the beautiful, strong woman staring back at you in the mirror and smile at her, she worked so hard for the last 50 minutes.”

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A smile represents so much more than a happy facial expression. A smile shows gratitude and appreciation. Smiling at yourself is just another way to show self-love and be grateful for giving yourself time to become mentally and physically stronger. Smiling at myself after a hard workout has taught me to recognize the aspects of my life that bring me joy.

If you don’t exercise in front of a mirror, I suggest taking a second to smile at yourself every morning when you are getting ready. It might seem silly, but it gives you a chance to reflect and be thankful. This leads me to my next point…

Smiling makes you feel happy. When I’m not having a great day, I consciously try to be a little nicer to others, in hopes that it may reflect back on me. Like karma, if you give smiles away, they usually come back to you.

Small acts of kindness, even things as small as a smile, can make all the difference in your own mood and others lives.

So, I’ll leave you with this, LoveLeighs – I hope you all know the worth of your smile and power of your happiness. It comes from within and when it’s there, it cannot be contained. Create your own joy and spread it to those around you, even when it seems hard to find.

 

Love, Leigh

Snooze it & Lose it

I don’t run for elevators. I don’t run to catch planes. I don’t like to run late.

Your alarm goes off at 6:30 a.m. and you immediately hit snooze. 8 minutes later the piercing sound of reality rings in your ear again and again and again… 

It’s a vicious cycle: hit snooze, doze off, wake up with the absolute minimum amount of time required to get out the door.

Now you’ve had no time to get coffee, forgot to put on the super cute necklace that matches your outfit and you feel rushed and flustered.

This used to be my daily routine. I was always rushing and feeling anxious about being late or forgetting something.

I realized that my problems were stemming from the way I started my day. The solution for these morning woes is something I like to call “getting vertical“.

Here’s how it works:

Pop out of bed the second your alarm goes off.

Don’t sit up and stare at your phone for a minute. Literally stand up. Get vertical the minute the alarm rings and don’t look back. Physically getting out of bed is the hardest part, so make like Nike and Just Do It.

After I’m vertical, I go into the kitchen and immediately drink at least eight ounces of water. Drinking water on an empty stomach helps reset your body and aids digestion. I never want to do this. I want to stick an IV of coffee straight into my arm, but having water truly does make me feel better throughout the day and wakes me up.

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After my water, I usually get ready to work out. Exercising in the morning keeps me energized all day long. It’s also nice to get home from work and know that I can spend time on other things.

If I’m not headed off to The Barre Code for a class (or once I’m back and showered), it’s time to get dressed for work.

My outfit is always planned out the night before, which is a tip I totally recommend. Laying your clothes out before bed saves you time in the morning and prevents the age old tale of trying on everything in your closet and trashing your room.

After I’m dressed, I grab my coffee, prepare my breakfast and allow myself 20 minutes to relax.

Sometimes I turn on Good Morning America, scroll through Instagram, or read a few chapters of whatever book I’m reading.

This might seem like a total waste of time, but giving myself some me-time in the morning allows me to relax and enjoy the day before I get crazy busy.

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Once I feel ready to get the day going I put on my makeup, do my hair and head off to work.

I know most of you are not morning people, but neither was I. There was a point where I had to be dragged out of bed, hated going to morning workout classes and didn’t even want to speak to another soul before sunrise.

If you are always running late, start by not hitting snooze. It helps me start every day in a good mood, which in turn allows me to feel more in control and less anxious about rushing out the door.

I truly believe that getting vertical as fast as you can and giving yourself a moment of relaxation in the morning sets you up for a successful day.

What other tips do you have for starting out your day right and being on time? Let me know in the comments!

We made it through another work week. Will you try to be a morning person next week? Have an amazing weekend, LoveLeighs!

Love, Leigh

Confessions of a Planner

I am that friend in the group that needs to know the game plan ahead of time.

My outfit is always laid out the night before.

If we’re going somewhere, I’ve probably already made a reservation.

I just bought shoes for an event that’s nine months away.

I am a planner.

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No matter how old I am, when September rolls around I get all the back-to-school vibes. My bones tingle to get organized and buy all new office supplies. There are lists to be made, ballpoint pens to buy and file folders to fill.

Here are my three tips for staying organized at the office, at school and at home this fall:

1. Virtual folders

Make folders for everything, especially your email, and actually use them.

This one is easier said than done.

When I started at my job in May, I made a folder in my email based on every project I worked on. When I open and read an email, I move it to the appropriate folder. If the email contains a task or info I need for the day, I leave it in my inbox. At the end of the day, I make sure that only the emails with tasks I have to do for the next day are in my inbox.

This has been essential to staying on top of my work. It’s way easier to click on a subject folder to find something than to dig through a thousand messages. It also helps me prioritize my to-do list. Speaking of to-do lists, here’s why you should make…

2. Lists on lists on lists on lists

It has always been a running joke that I make a list for everything. Chores, groceries, packing lists, possible weekend activities, things I don’t want to forget to tell my bff on the phone later…

I like making lists because it helps me remember things.

All the teachers that swear by handwritten notes for memory are totally right. I was the lonely college senior writing all my notes while hundreds of fingers clicked away at their keyboards during lecture.

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The point is that even if you never look at the list again, writing it down helps remind you what you need to accomplish.

If you are already a list-maker like myself, put some tasks on there you’ve already accomplished. It reminds you that no matter how daunting the task ahead, you are capable of knocking it out. If you’ve already done 6 loads of laundry, you can do just about anything else.

anyone else leave way too much laundry until Sunday night? Nope, just me? Great. Moving on

3. Use a planner, duh!

I love Google Alerts and calendar apps as much as the next person, but nothing beats writing down “hair appointment” in your prettiest cursive two months in advance.

Using an agenda is a great way to look ahead at your week/month/year and make adjustments as conflicts and new events come up. As I said, I’m a real believer in writing things down and using all the electronic stuff as a back up.

I’ve been buying Erin Condren life planners for about three years and they are my absolute favorite. When I saw her Seasonal Surprise Box, I knew I had to order one.

The box includes $60+ worth of random agenda accessories and stationary for $35. She did one for winter that sold out really quickly, so I scooped the fall box up as soon as it was released.

It came in the mail last week and let me tell you, it is everything my little Type A heart could dream of. Here is what came in the box:

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The first thing I noticed was the metallic planner cover. One of the things I love about the EC planners is that you can switch out the interchangeable covers whenever you want. They are completely customizable and she releases new ones almost every season.

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The felt-tip markers are the best. If you nerd out about writing utensils, you need to buy these ASAP. They are super fine on one end and have an ultra smooth felt-tip marker on the other. Even the most tragic of handwriting turns fabulous with these bad boys.

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My final favorite from the box is the card set. I believe the ones I received were special for the fall box, but there are tons of cute options on her site. You can personalize them with your initials, name, by the pattern and color scheme.

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Side note: I don’t care how old you are, Halloween stickers stickers of any kind are always fun and should be utilized.

I hope my tips and short love letter to Erin Condren inspires you to write things down and get organized this season. Your future self will thank you.

Love, Leigh