2018 Real Resolutions

2017 was the year of so many “firsts” and “lasts” for me.

I finished my last semester of college, competed in my last pom competition, slept my last sleep in the college house I lived in with my best friends for three years, the list goes on…

I also had my first day at a new job, moved into my first big girl apartment with Scooter, posted my first blog post and taught my first class as an instructor.

2017 was no doubt the craziest, most fun, scary, amazing year yet. I can honestly say that I wouldn’t change a single second of this year. Every struggle forced me to learn and grow, and every success allowed me to appreciate this wonderful, LoveLeigh (I had to) life I live.

As we enter the final hours of 2017, I have reflected on my wins and loses for the year and set some realistic goals for myself moving forward.

I won’t lie, I don’t like the idea of “waiting for the new year” to set goals, because we should all be setting new goals every morning. But I do think the new year is a good time to check in on yourself and reflect on what’s important. So instead of trying to set giant, looming goals, let’s set some attainable ones that lead to progress and growth.

I want to make 2018 the year of listening. This one encompasses a lot. Listening to your friends, family and colleagues and hearing what they are saying, not just listening to respond. Having meaningful conversation and showing you care is becoming more and more rare. Let’s all try to listen more.

This also applies to yourself. Listen to your mind and body, and respond accordingly. On occasion I’ve been known to ignore everything my body tells me and go, go, go until I am so sick and tired I can’t get out of bed. I am going to consciously try to slow down when necessary. If you’re a 24/7 mover, you know this is so hard. Let’s hold each other accountable.

My next intention is to live presently. This goes hand in hand with being a crazy busy person. There were so many days this year where I would go through the motions of a 16 hour day and have no idea how that much time had passed. I hate the foggy feeling of not knowing how you got from A to B. I want to pull the focus I have throughout parts of my life into my entire day. No more going through the motions and more present intention. Let’s be aware and actionable in 2018.

My boring and practical resolution for the year is to set and abide by a budget. I am mentioning it here so that I actually do it. I can’t wait for the conversations where this specific paragraph is held against me by my parents and personal financial advisor (Scott). Good. I deserve it. If I don’t surpass my monthly spending for the whole year, come December 2018 I will treat myself at Lululemon. Does that defeat the point of a budget? Probably. Give me a break, I’m new to this.

Lastly, I resolve to spread joy. I love all the #feels of the holidays. Everybody is happy and full of cookies and excited to see each other. This feeling seems to fade by the middle of January when we are all windburned and packed into public transit like sardines.

Let’s try our best to revive that joy. This starts by waking up every day and making the decision to be kind to yourself and those around you. Smile at a stranger, take some time for yourself, and go out of the way to make a loved one feel special. The feeling of joy in our lives shouldn’t be limited to one month of the year. Oh, and the cookies probably don’t hurt, so let’s continue to bake and eat those, too.

None of my resolutions involve specific numbers or deadlines. I just want to spend this year having as much fun and learning as much as I did last year (and saving some money). I want to continue to create and spread kindness, tackle my goals head-on, and release negativity from my life.

Please share your favorite memories from 2017 and your goals for the new year in the comments. I want to hear what you guys are looking forward to and reflecting on. Here’s to making 2018 the best year yet. Who’s with me?

Love, Leigh

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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

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

Finding Your Own Motivation

I spent Saturday with thousands of women striving to be the best versions of themselves, and it was inspiring to say the least. You already know my feelings on group fitness, but the Tone It Up Tour was another level of community.

For those of you who don’t know, Tone It Up is a website with daily workouts, healthy recipes, fitness challenges and nutrition plans run by trainers Karena and Katrina. They are currently touring the nation with Jillian Michaels and filming new fitness content for their website and app.

Hearing Jillian, Karena and Katrina speak to the group got me thinking about what motivates me and how I find that motivation within myself.

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For a long time, I came up with every excuse in the book to avoid doing the hard stuff. I don’t mean just workouts. I’m talking about assignments and chores I didn’t feel like doing, and even conversations with loved ones that I knew would be difficult to have.

Over a long period of trial and error, I have discovered some tools that help me to motivate from within.

Eat the frog

“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” – Mark Twain.

I had a professor my first year of college who used to always advise us to “eat the frog”. For me, that means doing my hardest task first. If I have a lot on my plate, I always start with the thing I want to do the least. That way, once it’s done, I feel inspired to tackle the rest of my projects because I know it will only get easier. It takes away the dark cloud looming over your head right off the bat.

Set small goals

Like I have mentioned before, I like to plan. As my fellow planners know, it’s easy to get carried away by planning too far into the future…Setting goals that you know you can achieve is a surefire way to work towards your bigger goals down the line.

These can be as small as drinking a certain amount of water a day or getting a set number of hours of sleep per night. Conditioning yourself to be goal-oriented sets you up for success in other aspects of your life.

Track your progress

This one is a little more specific to fitness.

There is no better competition than yourself. Most of the time I get myself to push harder in a workout by trying to top what I’ve done before. I think to myself “last week I did 10 push-ups and I’m stronger now than I was then”. Every rep and step counts. Adding even one more crunch makes a difference in the long run. Always get better. Even if it’s one step further than last week. Ever forward.

Jam out

Music has so much power over mood. I use music to motivate myself to do all sorts of things. When I don’t feel like writing, I turn on a new playlist and wait for inspiration to strike. When swiffering the floor and doing the dishes sounds dreadful, a little throwback Britney Spears is sure to get me off the couch and cleaning. To run faster, push harder and jump higher, I have to have the right song on.

One of the biggest ways I utilize music as a motivator is to turn it into a break. If something isn’t going my way, I go for a walk and listen to something I know will cheer me up. Using music to clear my head and reset my mood allows me to get back to what’s important instead of giving up.

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Reward yourself

If food-based incentives are the first thing that came to mind, you’re my kind of gal (or guy). I have bribed myself into doing a lot of stuff that seemed impossible by promising myself a donut once it’s done. Don’t be above self-bribery – it’s effective.

Reflect

Writing down my thoughts at the end of the day allows me to reflect on what I accomplished and how I can improve.

If you don’t like to write, take a moment to have a thankful thought at least once a day. Thinking about what you appreciate allows you to work towards doing more of what you love and eliminate the actions or things that don’t add value to your daily life.

Taking the time to think about my interactions and behaviors has forced me to become more present. It also lets me think about how I can actively work towards my goals and not just go through the motions.

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I hope you can apply some of these tips to your life. You can’t depend on others to motivate you, and there is nothing more satisfying than reaching a goal you set for yourself.

I would love to hear the other ways you motivate yourself in the gym, at work and at home. Happy Monday, LoveLeighs. Get out there and tackle this week!

Love, Leigh