Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Hita's Top 10 Tips for the New Year

HitaTalk is turning 1 year old! THANK YOU to all who have supported, read and shared my HitaTalk posts in 2014. December 27 marks HitaTalk’s one-year anniversary, and I look forward to bringing you more fun and engaging content in 2015!

As we approach the end of the year, I usually like to take a few moments to reflect back on the accomplishments and also the obstacles I have overcome in the past 12 months. 

Around the holidays, once the lights and tree are up in my apartment, I sit down with a cup of coffee (or glass of wine), lay out my current yearly calendar and open my New Year calendar to record important deadlines, birthdays, events, and big goals I want to achieve in the coming year. Then, I make a note at the top of each page of the main 2-3 tasks for the month: car tabs due, re-new contract, book vacation, etc. There are occasions that have come up where I forgot or missed my own deadlines, but I always find a way to make it work…and reward myself in the end. No matter what 2014 has brought you, great moments or challenges, I wish 2015 to be a successful and productive for you.

Here are my Top 10 Tips for making the best of the New Year:  

1. Do it for you. Make a list of goals for the year based on elements in your life that make you happy. DO focus on areas that will enhance your well-being, health, finances, and lower stress levels. Don't do things based on what other people tell you to do. Stay true to yourself.

2. Keep it simple. Take on a reasonable number of projects and tasks that will not overwhelm you or cause you unnecessary stress. Try to calculate how much time to dedicate to each commitment, so that you can plan accordingly. No need to say yes to everything that comes your way. Chances are that it won’t be the last opportunity.

3. Be clear. Communicate well with others by listing your exact objectives, goals, deadlines, and mention preferred methods of communication ahead of time. Ex: Let’s meet next week. How does Tuesday at 7pm or Thurs 7pm look for you? I will send an email with details, and you can let me know which works best. Rather than: Let's touch base soon - This will lead to extra back and forth.

4. Budget and Save. Making a budget seems daunting for most people. Plan to spend the necessary amount on your expenses, and set aside a small portion for entertainment and leisure activities. Check out this link for how to manage your budget. If you plan to brew your own morning coffee at home, you can save approx. $25/week. Create a simple weekly or monthly budget to monitor your spending, and try to cut back on little splurges. Take the $25 you saved on Starbucks this week, and deposit it into your savings account. It adds up quickly.

Save- save yourself time and money by being proactive. Think ahead. "What do I need for groceries this week, events, upcoming celebrations? Ex: Shopping. Make a list and check it twice. I suggest you not to walk into a Target store and roam the aisles until your cart is full, and $150 later you’re leaving with more than the toothpaste and shampoo you originally planned to buy. Jot down a few necessities on your mobile To Do list or note pad, and stick to what’s on that list. It will save you time at the store…and money! Then, if you need to make another run a few days later to pick up something you forgot, make another list.  Ex: wrapping paper, juice, detergent, dad’s birthday card, and Dove chocolate for Hita.

5. Make a plan. A wise friend of mine once said, "plan your work, so you can work your plan." No need to overwhelm yourself with big “Action Steps.” Instead, write down (and literally write it or type it out- it is proven to resonate better when mental thoughts are put on paper/mobile note pads) a few long-term goals and a few short-term goals.

Long-term goals: tasks and projects that you’d like to work on-going or that you’d like to accomplish within the next 6 -12 months. Ex: Save $2,000, Run a marathon
Short-term goals: tasks that can be completed within 1-4 weeks. Ex: save $200 each paycheck, run 3 miles Mon/Wed/Fri this week
Your short-term goals can be mile-markers on your way to achieving your long-term goals.
6. Be adaptable to change. One of the leading causes of failing to meet a commitment or goal is due to people not willing to change their bad habits or lose motivation. Finding a routine that works for you is important because it helps structure a schedule and priorities. However, things can come up that might detour your progress or pose a challenge, and you have to be positive and willing to adjust to the minor change. Remember, we won’t grow by doing the same thing all the time.  Step out of your comfort zone frequently. It doesn’t have to be every day or every week, but at least once a month try to do something that is out of the norm for you. It will force you to change your mindset, conquer a fear, or may show you a better way of doing something.

7. Keep your list of goals handy. Write down your goal for the week or month at the top of your calendar, post it on the side of your computer monitor, or keep it on the fridge so that it’s visible to the eye. Constantly seeing your list of priorities and goals will stay in your subconscious, and keep you on track.

8. Be accountable: We all need a little help in this area from time to time. It’s up to you to set a goal and to accomplish it. However, we can’t always do things on our own. Don’t be afraid to ask others for help, or for their insight. Tell a buddy! Having someone hold you accountable can be effective and motivating. Share your ideas and goals with a friend, and ask for their support to check-in on your progress.

9. Go easy on yourself.  No one is perfect. We all make mistakes, lots of them. If you get derailed or lose track of your time and goals, just take a moment to re-evaluate the great things you have already accomplished. We will all fall down at times, but it’s important to get back up and not be so hard on yourself. We can only handle one task at a time, so pace yourself, don’t take on too much, and be sure to toot your own horn from time to time.

10. Have fun. Seriously, life is way too short to be stressed out. You have to enjoy what you do. If you’re in a miserable situation (trust me I’ve been there), do what you can to make the best of it until you are able to manage an alternate situation. Don’t let others put you down or “rain on your parade.” Love what you do, enjoy the people you interact with, and keep a positive attitude. Define what happiness means to you, and focus on those elements.

Wishing you a very happy New Year!

 - Hita

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

T is for Thanks

11 months ago we started the New Year with hopes and goals of having a successful 2014. Some of you have had an amazing year with many achievements, happy news, and exciting surprises. Some of you may have had one of the most challenging years yet with more disappointments and unforeseen circumstances than one could imagine. It may seem odd to think in such a way, but today I encourage your to Be Thankful for it all. It is how we set our minds and outlook that helps keep us stay grounded through all the ups and downs of our life journey.

I came into 2014 with a list of goals I wanted to accomplish, and as ambitious as I am to complete them all by 2015 (and so forth) it has not all been a smooth ride. The moments of turbulence left me feeling down and overwhelmed, but thankfully I have had the ability to persevere through the thick clouds. Fortunately, this has also been one of my most accomplished years yet (and it came with a lot sleepless nights, tears, and mini-successes). I can't help but to sit back and think of all the facets of my year that I am truly thankful for...well, all of it. Take a peek at my previous post on ways to B.R.E.A.T.H.E in all that you take on.

I share this with you in hopes that you can reflect back on your 2014 moments, and be thankful for where you are now and those that are around you. For starters:

Be Thankful for waking up today. There is only one day that matters, Today. Yesterday is done, and tomorrow hasn't arrived, so be grateful you have Today to start fresh. Be thankful for second chances. 

Be Thankful for your health. You're alive and breathing, plain and simple.
Be Thankful for your senses..sight, touch, smell taste, sound.

Be Thankful for your family. 
Be Thankful for your friends and peers.

Be Thankful for your supporters and advocates
...for those that are by your side at your best times but also through hardships.

Be Thankful for your significant other; your #1 fan!

Be Thankful for help. We can't do everything on our own. Be happy that others want to contribute to your success and well-being by offering a hand. Be Thankful for your ability to ask for help- not always easy to do.

Be thankful for love. Whether if it's unconditional, passionate love with your sweetheart, or the love you share with your family and friends. 
Be thankful you have love in your life.

Consequently, Be Thankful for the heartbreaks you have experienced and the lessons you have learned. Sometimes a let down from someone that is closest to you can be the most painful feeling in existence, but be thankful you have felt such great heights and realized your heart is too big to let yourself feel hurt for long. Allow yourself to regain that level of love and care, and be thankful for your strength to carry forward to the future.

Be Thankful for the laughs.

Be thankful for your intuition
...for your positive outlook
...for good judgement that allows you to think clearly and honestly.

Be thankful for your vulnerable moments that have challenged you to demonstrate courage 
... for overcoming your fears.

Be Thankful for the adversities you have endured
...for moments of confusion, but also for the moments of clarity.

Be Thankful for the unknown and the journey that lies ahead
...for your dedication to your commitments.

Be Thankful for your wisdom
...for your patience
...for your faith.

Be Thankful for your goals & aspirations
...your drive to succeed.

Be Thankful for your generosity
...for your ability to listen and help
...for your contributions to others.

Be Thankful for your milestones, big or small, and be thankful for your experiences.

Be Thankful for your meals
...for clean water
...for the shirt on your back
...for shelter and heat.

As many of us gather around family and friends during this holiday season, I ask that you take a moment to think about the facets of your life that you are truly thankful for, and the people in your environment that have contributed to who you are today. 

Giving thanks can come in multiple forms: verbally saying Thank You is one.
Show thanks through a random act of kindness, a text or call, letter, send a card, a hug, or write a note.
One of my favorite ways of giving Thanks is by giving back to those who have helped me, or to pay it forward to those who are less fortunate.

Of course, I must add...
I am Thankful for my HitaTalk readers :)

Friday, November 7, 2014


Our world is moving at a fast pace, and our interactions seem to be evolving to "auto-pilot." Many of us continuously seek ways to manage our busy lives, but also tips to help demonstrate proper communication along the way. I hope my 7 tips can remind us of the power of our verbal and non-verbal communication. Sometimes we just have to slow down and BREATHE:

B- Take a deep breath. Inhale, exhale, then take a step back. You
don't always have to be the leader of the pack, but be confident in sharing your thoughts and let your voice be heard. Surround yourself with an appropriate network. The key is to dedicate your time to the right people/projects and attract the right audience that can help you grow.
Be Bold. Make a statement, and set yourself apart. Your hand shake is a great first impression! Introduce yourself with a firm yet brief hold. Let your counterpart know you are genuinely interested to meet their acquaintance. No one likes a soft hand shake.  
Be Brave. Demonstrate courage and speak your mind. Don't let fear stop you from saying or doing what feels right, but be sure to gauge what's appropriate.

R- Build Rapport and Respect. If you network with people to make a connection, don't just jump to asking for a favor right off the bat. Show respect for the person's intellect and skills by taking time (it may take 2-3 conversations) to learn about them and establish a foundation. I can't imagine most people enjoy being approached by others who are constantly looking for favors. A business deal is different if you are purchasing a service. Assume everything comes with a price tag, and expect to pay for that person's time and resources. People will volunteer their time/talent at their discretion.Take the time to build rapport with your potential collaborators.

E- Educate. A teaching license is not required to educate others. If you have an expertise in your field of work or passion, then share the experience and information you have acquired. Knowledge sharing can be empowering to both parties. Be willing to help share valid information-- even the basics: who, what, where, when, why, how. People feel great learning, and they value a topic/person when they can take something away from the situation. Ex: Provide information on your non-profit's background and purpose, tell people about how your product will enhance their life rather then just selling them the product/tool, explain why someone should invest their time and money into you and your business. The why is one of the most important elements to educate someone with.

A- Associate. Share information try to demonstrate your level of understanding by discussing your experiences.When possible, try to relate to what others say. Associate yourself to their story by sharing your personal examples to help build rapport. Acknowledge them and their efforts, Appreciate the material discussed, or Ask questions to learn more.

T- Be Thoughtful. Try not to comment just for the sake of saying something. Put some honest thought into  it. If you're not sure what to say then simply state, "I hear you" or "I understand." Show your audience that you can provide advice or suggestions AFTER you are done Listening. Provide facts -instead of always stating opinions. (FYI-it doesn't hurt to ask "would you like to hear my thoughts?). I have practiced more "story sharing." I share an example of a situation similar to what the other person is telling me, and I share the situation positives, frustrations, and lessons learned ...aka indirect advice that can be relate-able. And be Thankful. Thank them for sharing information and for dedicating their time to speaking with you.

H- Offer a hand, how can you help? Is there a way you can help others grow and evolve in their personal and professional endeavors? Can you offer an ear to just listen? Can you suggest a new connection/network? Can you help offer information, tips or tricks? Can you help encourage them by praising/reassuring them? Sometimes all you need to do is just ask "how can I help?" 

E- Entertain. I don't mean hop on a stage and be the center of the show, but rather just be yourself, enjoy the people you meet, and have fun with your projects. Bring your humor and personality to the table; don't be a bore. OR entertain in the sense of "consider" one's attempts or ideas. Try not to shut down a thought or suggestion before weighing the pros and cons.

Communication DOs and DON'Ts: 
DO Speak in "Bullets"- Keep your objectives short, brief, and thorough. You don't want your audience to get bored and tune you out with too much information flying around.
    • When speaking on a topic, try to have 2-3 main thoughts that you want to to address in your conversation. Speak clearly with concrete examples, and provide factual content.
DO engage in the conversation without actually having to speak. 
    • Eye contact, nodding, upright posture, arms uncrossed, and an occasional smile doesn't hurt.
DON'T speak in monotone...Unless you're telling a bedtime story Zzzz. Bueller?
    • Imagine you are speaking in sentence format with commas in place. Use those imaginary punctuation marks as a chance to take a breath, pause, smile, and allow your audience to soak in your words...aka no rambling on and on. Avoid "run-on sentences"- again speak slowly and clearly, and try not to jumble all your thoughts into one sentence. 
DON'T Use a lot of Ums, Ahs, and other "filler" words such as "like"  or "you know."

Life is busy. Trust me I know! However, we have yet to invent teleportation or human cloning, so don't forget to slowdown and allow yourself to "B.R.E.A.T.H.E."

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Managing Your “Busy” Life

It seems that many of us are always “so busy.” While being busy is a good thing, too much on our plates can be damaging to our well-being. Finding a healthy balance among our countless responsibilities will help manage our stress levels, productivity, and most importantly our overall happiness. If there is anyone that knows a thing or two about living a busy lifestyle, it’s me! Between a full time job, graduate school, and the many side projects and time to myself, family, and friends, it’s easy to burn out. Whew!

People frequently ask me, “how do you do it all?” To be quite honest I ask myself the same thing, but I do what makes me happy and what is necessary for my growth.  Do I get stressed? Yes, I’m human especially when I work with so many different deadlines and personality types.  Do I ever spread myself too thin? Yes, at times. Then WHY do I continue to live a busy lifestyle? Because I have goals, timelines, and I’m VERY passionate about the things I do.  I have a long way to go, and many lessons yet to learn. However, I have found several tactics to help me along the way to keep a healthy balance. View my previous post Finding a Balance.

Reduce stress: It’s simple. Stop doing things that stress you out! Involve yourself in activities & projects that don’t cause you anxiety. Surround yourself with people that bring you joy and contribute to your success.

The worst thing is have to work a job you are miserable in (I know!), or having to engage with people that disrupt your inner peace & happiness.  When in doubt, hit the gym, try yoga or meditation, and be sure you are getting enough rest to keep up with your own schedule.

Time Management:  Space out your priorities and be proactive. This entails preparation, travel time, and tasks to be completed within the week/month. Prep for your meetings in advance to help keep things timely & efficient. Leave early and arrive early, so you don’t feel rushed to get from point A to point B. Purchase gifts and greetings cards in advance rather than stopping at the store on the way to a birthday party/wedding. Try not to always schedule events/meetings/soccer practice back to back.
It's ok to say no: Your time is valuable, and committing to multiple ventures can negatively impact your motivation, productivity, and well-being. It's not selfish to say no; it’s healthy. You work hard to succeed in your career endeavors, and referrals are essential. However, be cautious when accepting an opportunity.

If it doesn’t fulfill your long term career goals, supplement your income, or could hinder your happiness then maybe consider “sitting out” on this one. Don't feel the need to always say yes. There is a great chance the opportunity will present itself again at a later time. When you say no to a new commitment, you're honoring your existing obligations and ensuring that you'll be able to devote high-quality time to them. mentions a few pointers on stress relief and saying no:

•Saying no can allow you to try new things. Just because you've always helped plan the company softball tournament doesn't mean you have to do it forever. Saying no gives you time to pursue other interests.

•Always saying yes isn't healthy. When you're overcommitted and under too much stress, you're more likely to feel run-down and possibly get sick.

•Saying yes can cut others out. On the other hand, when you say no, you open the door for others to step up. They may not do things the way you would, but that's OK. They'll find their own way

Set Boundaries: Be flexible with your commitments, but set parameters and guidelines. Don’t let people take advantage of your time and resources based on your willingness to participate. If you volunteer your time, do so in a reasonable amount. If something or someone makes you uncomfortable, then respectfully let them know or remove yourself from the situation. Set expectations from the beginning, and you will be happier along the way. Be consistent with what you deliver, and what you ask of others.

Take Breaks & Unwind:  Too much of one thing isn’t always beneficial. At work, be sure to take frequent water breaks, have a snack, or just take a quick walk. Your body is not meant to stay seated for long periods of time, and your mind needs a break from constant activity. Give yourself a “day off” once in a while to just relax without having to be on some else’s timeline. Take a long shower or bath, light some candles, get a massage, or take a trip! Even if it’s a 2-3 hour road trip out of town, get away for a day or so. Goodness, our grocery shopping, cleaning, laundry, and errands all have to be factored in to our schedules, and sometimes all we want to do (and deserve) is to just have a lazy day once in a while.

Increase your productivity: Block out time to complete your tasks. Your “TO DO” list keeps growing as you check items off, but just remember that you can only do one thing at a time. Plan to tend to your errands, meetings, activities, and personal obligations at certain times/days. Switch your phone on Airplane Mode for an hour or two to avoid calls/texts/social media distractions while you’re “in the zone.” Try not to waste time. If a project seems daunting, just start it, complete it, and check it off your list- a sense of accomplishment is relieving and invigorating.  This podcast has AMAZING tips to enhance your productivity, time, and energy & attention.

Spend your time on tasks, and with people that are beneficial to your short term but also long term happiness. Key takeaway: everything is better in moderation.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Health Series Part 2: Jillian Newlin's Tips &Tricks

Many of us seem to over indulge through the long brutal winters and holiday season, then rush to find crash diets to shed those unwanted pounds for Spring & Summer....or continue to do so through the "Dog Days." No sweat, right?

In my opinion, crash diets just as worse as when people believe and follow the hundreds of Fad Diets that keep popping up only because a "celebrity" tried it. Wake-up call! Crash & Fad diets don't work, and are horrible for your body and your mind.
FYI Celebrities get paid several thousands of dollars to read a script claiming they have "tried, like, and approve" of a product or regimen. They also spend a pretty penny on chefs, nutrition coaches, and personal trainers.

Weight loss or maintaining healthy decisions shouldn't be a comparison to others, competition or a race. Living a healthy lifestyle is something people need to be able to incorporate as part of their day-to-day routines for what suits them best.

The term "Diet" is often viewed as an idea to cut out certain food or beverages for a period of time. Ex: when people crash diet before their tropical vacation.
The definition of Diet:
*Food and drink regularly consumed
*Habitual consumption
*A regimen of eating & drinking sparingly to reduce one's weight
In my previous post, Be Your Own Biggest Loser, I had a chance to sit down with Jillian Newlin and share her inspiring story of her 60+ pound weight loss. She shared her vulnerability as she overcame many challenges and physical & emotional obstacles. To hear someone's amazing journey, and to see their transformation from Before to After makes me wonder, How did she do it?! 
Jillian's Tips & Tricks
Caloric Consumption
Keep a food log. Try to keep a log of what you eat. This can seem tedious, but it is the only way to really know how much you are overeating. You can download an app, which is the easiest way. Ex: My Fitness Pal.
Eat clean. Try to cut out as much processed food as possible, and incorporate REAL food. Focus on fresh fruits, veggies, minimally processed grains like brown rice, quinoa. Lean meats: chicken breast, salmon and also egg whites are a great source of protein and low in calorie. Basically if it comes in a box and the ingredient list is more than 5 ingredients long- avoid it!
You are what you drink. Try your best to cut out or at least cut down progressively on the sugary drinks and juices- even diet or zero calorie pop is not good for you. Drink roughly 6 cups of water a day mostly between meals; this will keep you hydrated, but also will cut down on hunger in between snacks.
Eat every 2-3 hours. If you space out your meals too far apart, your blood sugar tends to drop and then because you are overly hungry by the time you eat, you are more likely to overeat. I like to have a small snack in between breakfast & lunch and then again between lunch & dinner.
Physical Activity
Make exercise part of your day almost every day- like brushing your teeth.
The more of a set routine you have the more likely you are to stick to it. Do things to prepare that will help you stick to your routine- for instance I set my workout clothes out in the bathroom every night, so I don’t have to rummage around at 4:30 in the morning trying to find something to wear.

Don’t start too hard, too fast. I started walking, then I added running, then I added higher intensity programs like Insanity, etc. And now I have added weight training. One thing at a time, progressing in difficulty as your fitness level increases is the best way to go.

Do something you enjoy. It’s a cliché but make fitness fun. If you dread it, the less likely you will be to actually do it. If you’re a daycare provider and by the end of the day you need adult communication, take group fitness classes where it can become a social experience. If you love being outdoors and detest working out inside a room, then outside is where you should be exercising. The best workout is one that you will actually do.
I asked Jillian
If you could go back, what would you do differently?
The only thing I would have done differently would be to start changing my nutrition sooner! I waited about 8 months to do that, which should have been the first thing to change.

How are you maintaining your weight now?
I still log everything I eat in "My Fitness Pal" every day. I am at a maintenance calorie level now, instead of a losing level. I still workout 5-6 days/week. Right now my focus is on building muscle, so I do 3 days of Cardio and also Weight Train 4-5 days/week.

Hita's Pointers
Plan what you eat, so you eat what you planned.
*Make a list of meal ideas for the week & grocery list of items you need
*Don't shop on an empty stomach
*Shopping in bulk or Prepping in bulk can help save time & money
*Taste the Rainbow! (And I don't mean Skittles) Incorporate Colors in your meals/snacks

Friday, July 25, 2014

Be Your Own Biggest Loser: A Story featuring Jillian Newlin

Have you heard of the popular NBC show The Biggest Loser? Some of us have watched an episode here and there, while others tuned in weekly to watch real life people share their personal stories battling weight and health challenges. Today, I have the honor of sharing a story about Twin Cities local who completed a version of her own "Biggest Loser" journey.

DID YOU KNOW?  More than one-third of U.S. adults (34.9%) are obese. Genetics and medical issues are a few elements of our health that sometimes cannot be altered. While Americans continue to improve their lifestyle choices overeating and lack of exercise still remain underperformed in the U.S.

The journey to lose weight, or even to maintain a healthy lifestyle, is no easy task. For some people it is a very difficult physical & mental obstacle to overcome. To "walk a mile" in someone's shoes who battles obesity is unimaginable unless you're the one that's short of breath, struggling to find a pair of jeans that fit comfortably, or even feeling self conscious in public settings. 

An equally important note: underweight individuals can also have a hard time maintaining a healthy weight just as the rest of the American population strives to stabilize their weight.

I recently had a chance to catch up with a "Big Loser," and good friend of mine, Jillian Newlin. I hadn't seen Jillian in nearly 2 years, and I was SHOCKED by her drastic weight loss and success story. 

Coming Soon! Part 2: Jillian's Tips and Tricks
Jillian is Twin Cities native, who leads a busy life as most of us do. She is a mother of 2 young boys, a loving wife, works a full-time job, and very active with her family and close friends. Her recent journey to finding a healthier and happier lifestyle has lead her to a remarkable weight loss of over 60+ pounds! 

The "moment" Jillian realized she needed to make a change was when she saw a picture of herself that left an imprint on her mind.

What lead you to begin your journey?
What really ended up being the final straw for me was seeing a picture of myself that was so completely unflattering; my jaw dropped open and I was shocked by how I looked. I had been overweight since high school, but after getting married and having two babies in a two year span I had just kept gaining and gaining.

When I would look in the mirror I would try not to look too long or too closely, so I didn’t really have to face it. Once I saw that picture (above), I realized just how big I had gotten, and that was enough. At the time, I had a newborn and a two year old at home and I was under a lot of stress. After my maternity leave I had started working out, which became my “me time” and time to de-stress.

What held you back or derailed your weight loss?
Staying motivated! I had started workout plans before and tried to eat better, but this time I was more determined. The other main difference between this time and my failed attempts in the past was the fact that I started slow.

What did your work out schedule look like?
In the past I tried to do too much way too fast, and I was overwhelmed. This time I started by walking on the treadmill 3-5 days a week, but did not change my eating habits. I did that for 6 months and only lost 8 lbs. Then I realized that I needed to change something else. I started doing Jillian Michaels DVD’s that incorporated High Intensity Interval Training, and once I started doing those about 5 days a week (30-40 min/day) I lost 8 lbs in two months (instead of 6 mon).Then I began running (when I started it was run/walking at intervals).

What were some of the biggest challenges?
One of the biggest challenges was learning how to eat better. When I started using "My Fitness Plan" I found it very hard to stay under 1200 calories. I did get to eat more calories if I burned them off with exercise.

Another challenge with the eating was trying to get my husband and kids (but especially husband…lol) to try new foods. For instance, for dinner I like to make chicken quinoa, but neither the hubby nor kids are very fond of quinoa- instead they will have chicken and potatoes and a vegetable.

What were some of your motivating factors?
What kept me going was the progress that I saw. Every week the scale went down and stayed down. I knew that what I was doing was working and it was such an amazing feeling, so I just kept doing it! What is harder is staying motivated once you have hit your goal.

What programs or tools did you use or suggest?
I am now a Beachbody coach! Beachbody is a company that produces and distributes at home workout DVD’s (Ex-Insanity, P90X, Turbofire). I have now completed Insanity, T25 and P90X3. As a Beachbody coach, my goal is to help people that are looking to lose weight and improve their health by showing them my success with the Beachbody programs, and by doing workout challenge groups.

In addition, I also am a certified Insanity instructor at Studio K Group Fitness in Andover. I instruct a 45 -minute Insanity class every Wednesday and Fridays.

What advice do you have for others during their weight loss journey or maintaining their progress?
For those battling weight loss challenges, the only one that is going to motivate you to do it is yourself. You have to want it bad enough. The biggest difference isn’t my pant size, but how much better I feel inside and out. I would encourage people to just imagine how much better they could feel physically AND also how much better they could feel about themselves if they make a healthy change.

For those that are struggling to maintain, I now struggle with this sometimes, too. My advice would be to think about how you felt BEFORE you lost the weight, and how you never ever want to go back to that place. Then I think about my next short term goal, and I just keep going!

"Healthy living is just making healthy choices. I'm not perfect, but I try my best. I make working out a part of my daily routine, and I make sure it's a workout I enjoy so I keep coming back and look forward to doing it! The healthier choices I make the better I feel"

Follow Jillian
Jillian's Beachbody Site 
Jillian's Get Fit for Life Beachbody Facebook Page
Studio K Group Fitness: 3450 Bunker Lake Blvd, Andover MN 55304 (2nd floor)


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Expand your Travel Experiences

What would you do if you won the lottery? Travel! The most common response (aside from paying bills) is the desire so many of us have is to travel. 

Finances seem to be a main factor as to why we travel as often/infrequently as we do. Also, time is precious, and it can be difficult to request time off from work, school, and commitments. 

One thing I wish I would have done in undergraduate school was to study abroad. Many of my friends took the opportunity to temporarily study in another country, or even to travel for fun. I was nervous (and careless) with my finances in my early 20s, so I always felt like I was too broke to travel. 

I have recently decided to spend less on material things and spend more on experiences. I enjoy concerts, social outings, and wine tastings.... But I love to travel! I love majestic scenery, meeting new people, and the attractions/activities in other parts of the world are so appealing to me... And of course the social scene and food :)

One of my goals for 2014 was to take at least 3 trips (domestic) and plan for an international trip. Thankfully, I have amazing family and friends across several states that welcome me to stay with them, and give me more reason to "impluse buy" a flight as opposed to shop for a pair of shoes or jeans that I truly don't need. The international trip takes a little more research and savings. I would like visit Egypt, Dubai, Africa, Brazil, India, Thailand, South Korea, London, Paris, Rome, and Fiji. Uuff, Sounds like I may need that lottery to help :)

Las Vegas is always a fun city for me! I can't go wrong with Florida, and of course California is my #1 "go-to" place. But HOW is that I've never been to New York!? The Today Show is waiting for me! Well, not to worry friends, I will be making my first trip to the Big Apple this summer as a 30th Birthday gift to myself. Total so far in 2014: that will be 4 trips :) Mission accomplished!? Well...I think I will keep it ongoing.

Are YOU also Longing to Travel?
One of my favorite travel reads is: "Longing to Travel,"
This is a great source for those looking for educational insight, tips/tricks, lodging advice, reviews, etc. The blog is created by a young, married couple and close friends of mine, Pouneh and Chris, who share their personal experiences from their worldwide adventures, and future plans.

Traveling can add up, so I have to plan for the initial big spend of booking the flight. Then, lodging is another priority. Through many recommendations by friends, I will be using "Air BnB" to find a nice and affordable place to stay without breaking the bank or being on the outskirts of all the action.

Trip itinerary: I don't mean the flight number and departure/arrival times. I mean the FUN stuff! What TO DO when we travel? For a true "vacation" I love the all-inclusive packages for my tropical destinations. For other activities, I research the hot spots, landmarks, and recommendations from friends. 

I love to explore, hike, and dance. Therefore, I try to plan ahead or have ideas to do some sightseeing where I go, then find a well-known location to hike and enjoy the beautiful view, maybe go on a few excursions, and later on grab a bite to eat and join the nightlife.

I find that my travel experiences are rather healthy. I have a chance to take a short break from "reality" to unwind and destress. It allows me to be vulnerable and try new things, meet new people, and demonstrate my social skills or ability to think/act independently. I love sunrises and sunsets, so anywhere I can go with breathtaking scenery is a happy place for me. The diversity in our country is amazing, so I would like to see for myself how different cultures live and interact. I also like to keep myself educated by learning the history behind the places I travel to. And of course, trying different food is definitely a given. 

The world has so much to offer, and I don't want to miss opportunities to experience them. Traveling solo is something I would like to try one day (a tad intimidating, but I can do it), and traveling with those I love is always enjoyable.

In a nutshell, I highly encourage you to travel. Travel to a new town (even if you drive a few hours), hop on a flight and visit a new state, or save a few extra dollars and venture overseas. You will learn a lot about yourself, others, and our amazing world.

Bon Voyage! 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

When One Door Closes...

...many more will open!

Have you recently gone through a big change in your life, or looking to make some changes?

You are certainly not alone when it comes to making "life decisions." Through my recent experiences and past encounters, I have realized that life changes are bound to happen whether we plan for them or not. It is how we learn and grow.
We just have to remember that we can only control our own actions, in the current moment...regardless of how much we communicate with others and how well we plan in advance.

How we handle our actions and reactions, and how we maximize our time is what matter most. Whether if it's a relationship change, home/move, career, education, financial, spiritual, etc we must remember that these are difficult elements in life we go through to get to where we ultimately want to be. Be open minded. Be Patient.

What if something happens unexpectedly? Stressful or joyful, all we can do is embrace the moment, ask others for help if we need it, and hold ourselves accountable for improving the situation to the best of our ability.

We've all heard the popular phrase before, "things happen for reason," so we must remind ourselves to be patient and positive.

Sometimes we must make big decisions, that are difficult in the moment, but what is yet ahead of us is unknown until we reach that moment. All we can do is welcome the future, good & not so good moments, and keep an open mind!


I recently made some big changes related to my future career goals, and ultimately I have decided that my mental & physical health/well-being and happiness is far more important than continuing on a path that was derailing my personal and professional success.

The decision to pursue my passion in PR and Entertainment work is exciting and very intimidating all the same time. All I can do is follow my intuition, reach out to others for their support and guidance, and push myself as hard as I can because this is what I want for myself. People around me will have their opinions, which I am open to hearing, but ultimately the decision is mine.

So for those of you who are looking to make a change, or who have unexpectedly had to experience an unplanned situation, my suggestion is to do your best to keep a positive mindset while continuing to seek opportunities that will benefit your well-being as well as financial and family priorities. 

For every door or two that closes it allows time and room for many more doors to open. Control the things that are in your hands, and set-aside the negative energy that may be distracting to your success.