I recently spent a long weekend in the Caribbean celebrating the end of summer before I dive back into the routine of daily life! It was such a wonderful and much-needed break, filled with lots of swimming, sunshine, island views, sailing, and crystal clear waters. We stayed at the Ritz Carlton St. Thomas, which I highly recommend, and enjoyed relaxing and taking in the views that overlook an expanse of turquoise waters, beautiful beaches, and rolling green hills of nearby islands. The resort is truly a gem on the island, and beautifully combines the cheerful, fun-loving spirit of the Caribbean with the serenity and relaxation of a tranquil oasis. We explored the cove on stand up paddleboards, kayaks, and sailboats, and soaked up some sunshine by the beach and pool. I always pack a few outfits for island exploring, but the weather was so fabulous that I stayed in my swimsuits and breezy tunics for most of the day until it was time to head to dinner! This weekend in paradise was the perfect way to celebrate a beautiful summer. Stay tuned for my favorite island look that's coming to the blog next!
It's time to rise and shine!! If you're not always feeling bright eyed when the sun starts to rise, here's a few suggestions for giving your morning routine a little boost of ease and energy!
1. Get to sleep earlier
You knew this one was coming, didn't you? I know, I know, it's easy to stay up and burn the midnight oil, but resist the late nights and get to sleep. Our bodies are often functioning on a lack of sleep and this contributes to more than just the ability to get out of bed easily in the morning. Studies show that getting the right amount of sleep (somewhere between 7-9 hours) is directly linked to increased focus and mental clarity, faster metabolism, and lower levels of stress. Also, our bodies repair and rejuvenate while we sleep, and by looking at the pace most of us keep on a daily basis, this is essential! When you're feeling like you're in a fog during the day, or find it hard to get out of bed every morning, you probably need to get some rest, so skip the evening scrolling, and get to sleep!
2. Create a routine
We are creatures of habit and the good ones will help you make the most of your mornings! Set up a routine that you can stick to on a daily basis. Personally, I have a specific time that I get up, a time that I eat breakfast, among other things that help me to be productive and enjoy the morning hours! To get into this habit pattern, I began by setting up a routine that I followed closely for about 2-3 weeks. After that time, my body began to fall into the rhythm of when I wanted to wake up, and now I often wake up right before or exactly when my alarm starts to go off. By doing things at the same time each day, you'll create a habit pattern of success and also set your body's inner clock to wake up early each day. (I wrote a post with more specifics on my morning routine; find it here.)
3. Limit your screen time at night
Our bodies are meant to react and respond to light--specific colors/rays of light--which helps to let us know when it is time to be up and active and when it is time to start winding down. In the mornings, the light rays are usually growing increasingly more blue which generates the response from the body to wake up and be active. As the sun begins to set, the light rays become more red and orange, generating the signal to the body to start winding down and getting ready for rest. Our devices (phones/ipads/tv/computer screens) emit a high percentage of blue light which is great during the day; however, this does not help us get our bodies into rest mode in the evenings. To get a better night's rest and an easier wake up, sleep researchers suggest limiting your screen time in the evenings and completely cutting it out at least an hour before bed. It's much easier to quiet your mind and body if you're not constantly consuming social media feeds right before you get to sleep, so put that phone down, unplug, and relax.
Morning exercise is one of the best ways to start the day, and a great way to get into the habit of becoming a morning person. Getting the body going when you wake up is essential to starting the day out on a positive note, and I have found that it gives me increased energy and focus throughout the rest of my day. Also, I've noticed that when I workout in the mornings, I tend to eat much healthier during the day, and have less cravings. In addition, morning workouts have become a great time for doing some thinking/visualization, prayer, and getting some time to myself before the start of a busy day. Cultivating this habit has helped to make mornings enjoyable and gives a sense of accomplishment as the day begins.
5. Plan ahead and enjoy the time
Mornings can sometimes be a little rushed and even stressful if you're not properly prepared. One way that combats this craziness is to plan ahead and get things ready the night before. I like to lay out my gym clothes and running shoes along with any specific things I need for the day ahead. When you're prepared, you are able to enjoy the morning and use the time for something beneficial. A great way to enjoy the morning is to start the day off with gratitude. Instead of focusing on all the stress of the week or things that are happening in the world, cultivate a spirit of thankfulness for the many things you have been blessed with. By focusing on the positive, you're setting the tone for the day ahead. Take a moment to journal, sip your coffee, and make a list (either on paper or in your head) of at least 5-7 things you are grateful for. This habit does wonders for your mind and spirit.
Mornings can be productive, enjoyable, and something to look forward to, but it may take a little bit of planning and rearranging of some habit patterns. Changing your habits and mindset is certainly a process, so if it seems like an adjustment to get into the 'I'm a morning person' routine, that is ok! With proper planning and consistency, you'll start each day with excitement and fulfillment!
What do you do to start your day?
I recently came across this list in a book I've been reading this summer, and think it's definitely powerful, applicable, and worth sharing. John Maxwell says that leadership is influence, and all of us have some sort of influence on others in our lives. With this in mind, are you aware of the kind of leader that you are? Do you cultivate positive growth and development of leadership skills? My hope is that you'll find this list as inspiring as I have. Enjoy!
5 Practices & 10 Commandments of Leadership
Practice 1: Model the Way
1. Find your voice by clarifying your personal values.
2. Set the example by aligning actions with shared values.
Practice 2: Inspire a Shared Vision
3. Envision the future by imagining exciting and ennobling possibilities.
4. Enlist others in a common vision by appealing to shared aspirations.
Practice 3: Challenge the Process
5. Search for opportunities by seeking innovative ways to change, grow, and improve.
6. Experiment and take risks by constantly generating small wins and learning from mistakes.
Practice 4: Enable Others to Act
7. Foster collaboration by promoting cooperative goals and building trust.
8. Strengthen others by sharing power and discretion.
Practice 5: Encourage the Heart
9. Recognize contributions by showing appreciation for individual excellence.
10. Celebrate the values and victories by creating a spirit of community.
We're rockin' into a new month and we've got a little bit of summer still ahead of us! Summer is a great time to invest in creating healthy habits that will benefit us all year long. Staying fit and healthy is a priority of mine, and I'm often asked about my workout routines/what I eat, etc. While I'm not a nutritionist or fitness professional, I have found that these five simple tips, when put into action, will definitely make a difference in your lifestyle and overall wellbeing.
1. Drink lots of water.
Most of us go throughout our days dehydrated, and with our bodies being made up of about 60% water, it's important to stay hydrated. During the summer, we lose even more water, due to higher temperatures, and it is essential for your mental clarity, overall health, and energy levels to drink about 8, 8oz glasses (or 2 liters) of water. This may sound like a lot, but when done over the course of a day, is easier than you may think. When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is drink a big glass of water or two, and then I carry a water bottle with me to refill throughout the day. Drinking water will help kickstart your metabolism and hydration will also help the body to actually signal food craving when it is hungry and not just thirsty, so you'll end up eating less calories. If you are doing any kind of exercise, make sure to stay extra hydrated, especially if you're training outdoors. Personally, I make sure to drink water before I exercise and afterwards I drink a second bottle of water with electrolytes to ensure that I am properly rehydrating. Coconut water is a great natural source of electrolytes and something you can take to the gym for a post-workout pick-me-up. For those of you who aren't plain water fans, throw a few slices of fruit, cucumber slices, or mint leaves into an sport infuser and create a combination that you'll love sipping on.
2. Get active and exercise consistently.
For most of us, consistent effort is the key factor to our fitness goal achievement. There was a time when I thought it was a specific type of routine, or diet plan that would magically give me the results I wanted, but honestly, it's more about showing up and sticking to a routine that has been most effective. While spending long hours in the gym or on the treadmill may work for some, it's not the only way to see results, and you'll have to find the kind of workout that is best for you. The good news is that you've got plenty of options to choose from! Personally, I enjoy a mix of running, weights, and HIIT or circuit training. Occasionally I'll throw in a barre or spin class into the mix, and I have gotten into some yoga for stretching and recovery. Again, this is not the only way that works, it just happens to work well for me and my schedule. When I'm traveling, I make fitness a priority, and still make time to either hit the hotel gym, take a class, or do a bodyweight circuit in my room. Not only does it help me to stay on track, but I also feel much more energized and clear-headed when crossing time zones and dealing with jet lag. Pick a type of activity, whether that's walking, running, sports of some kind, or classes, and be really consistent. You'll be so glad you did!
3. Eat clean and with moderation.
Just a small disclaimer here: always consult a professional before making any big diet or exercise changes. Ok, with that out of the way, here's my tip: eat clean!! So many of the foods available to us in grocery stores are filled with preservatives, fillers, additives, and just plain chemicals. Instead of processed stuff, look for the beautiful colors and flavors found in fresh fruits, veggies, greens, and choose healthy sources of protein. Now, this is not to say that you cannot have ice cream, chocolate chip cookies (my personal fave!), or the occasional indulgence of your choice. The guideline that I stick to is moderation and self-control. If you want an ice cream cone on a hot summer day, by all means, go enjoy one, but don't devour an entire pint all by yourself. You'll find that the more you eat clean, natural food, the more you'll crave it over highly sugared and processed things. Also, there's been lots of fad diets over the years that have said all kinds of things are good, then bad, then good again...be wary--very wary--of anything that promises some sort of miracle results. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is...I'm looking at you, detox tea fads. Personally, I do my best to eat clean foods, but it's all a balance, and I will enjoy the occasional burger or dish of really good mac and cheese. For creative, clean recipe inspiration, I go to Tone It Up, Kayla Itsines' Blog, or Clean Eating Mag.
4. Use accountability.
This one is actually applicable to all of life, whether it's health focused or not, and its power is amazing. Accountability is essential to goal achievement and something I utilize on a daily basis. You're more likely to go to a class or to the gym if you know someone else is counting on you to be there, and you've got built in encouragement when pushing yourself to a new limit. In addition to having a running or gym buddy, I also like to use apps as accountability. For running, I like to track my progress using apps like Under Armour's Map My Run and My Fitness Pal. Nike also has some great running and training apps. A bunch of my good friends and I also use Charity Miles to track our activity and donate money to charity by working out. When you run, walk, or bike, Charity Miles will donate money, per mile, to a cause of your choice, and you can create teams with friends and family where you can track progress and push toward various team goals. Most of the people on my team do not live close to me, so it's really fun to encourage one another as we workout across the country and around the world together for a great cause. This app has by far been one of my very favorites because you can make a positive difference by doing something you're already going to do daily/weekly...oh and did I mention it's free?!
5. Visualize your results.
Visualization is the secret sauce to this equation, really! If you're visualizing the things you want, your mind automatically begins to work on that mental picture, bringing it to reality in your life. We often wonder why so many bad things happen to someone, and many times it stems back to the kind of thinking a person has. What do you see yourself looking like/acting like/accomplishing? Spend time each day thinking about and visualizing the kind of person you want to become. If this is specifically fitness-related, think about how strong you want to feel, the specific fitness goals you are accomplishing, and the overall feeling of health and wellbeing you have. Get specific and imagine the details of that picture daily. Visualization has been incredibly powerful in my life, and I utilize it to bring my dreams to reality in a variety of areas. I challenge you to do the same and see what kind of positive effect it can have on your life!
Here's to a happy, healthy, and fun-filled summer!
Summer is always a checkpoint time for me and the goals I've set, and I take advantage of my travel time to get this very important task accomplished. Perhaps it's fact that I'm not on the ground running through my day, or the seemingly "lack of routine responsibilities" while in flight that causes me to focus more on the various areas of life that I can improve upon before the year's end. Regardless of the reason, I'm intentional about investing this time in my personal inventory and improvement. As I was doing some of this on a recent trip, I thought about some of the lessons I've learned and areas I've been working to improve. Some of these have turned into posts here on the blog from time to time, and I wanted to share four of them with you in the hope that you may be experiencing and/or learning some of these also.
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For my birthday we took a trip to the beautiful Biltmore Hotel in Miami. The historical beauty sits among sprawling golf courses, streets lined with banyan trees, and lovely private estates in Coral Gables. A walk around the property is perfect for discovering charming staircases, hand-painted frescos on the ceilings, marble columns, intricate tile mosaics, and beauty around every corner. Our suite was so spectacular that we decided to have a private dinner brought in, and then went for an evening stroll afterwards. I wanted a fabulous dress to celebrate in, and this gorgeous shift was perfect for ringing in another fantastic year! I was drawn to the pretty color, gold detail, and simple elegance which makes this the perfect summer look. Also, this clutch is my new go-to; the gold accents and printed inner lining make it the finishing touch and beautiful accessory for just about every summer dress I own.
Summer is the perfect time to host some friends and family for a fun gathering or celebration! I love getting friends together for some good food, great conversations, and time enjoyed together. Looking for a few ideas? I've got some party inspiration for your summer celebrations. Pick your favorite, and host your own this season!