My Weekly Fitness Routine + New Goals

Hello Friends,

We’re almost at mid-February, and I’ve been reflecting on my fitness journey and making a few changes along the way to get my routine in a place that works best for me. Health and wellness is definitely something that is tailor-made for each person in a unique way, as we all have different needs and requirements. But it’s always nice to find new ideas and inspiration from others that might give us some insight on things we can try ourselves. My journey has gradually taken a different shape from where it started.

Continue reading “My Weekly Fitness Routine + New Goals”

To Yourself Be True in 2022

We are in the season of fresh starts, new beginnings, resolutions and intentions. The commitments we make to ourselves at the start of a new year vary greatly from person-to-person, but they all have a common root – the desire to make our lives the best that we can. Before any goals are set or plans are made, we first feel that desire to grow and it drives us in the steps that follow. What influences that desire in us can make all the difference.

Continue reading “To Yourself Be True in 2022”

I’m Getting Certified in Holistic Nutrition! What Does that Mean for the Blog?

Dear Friends,

As you are reading this, I’ve already begun phase two of my holistic nutrition course. I investigated several options for nutrition certifications and landed on the Holistic Nutritionist Certification program at AFPA Fitness. I chose this one for two reasons: 1) It uses a whole body approach (holistic) to nutrition rather than focusing only on diet, and 2) It had a detailed and extensive curriculum as compared to others I looked at, so I felt like I was going to learn a lot more.

I’ve made it through the first portion of the course already, because once I started I found that I couldn’t stop. I was fully immersed in what I was learning, and that is something I have never felt in any of my college courses. If there was ever any doubt that this is my passion, there certainly isn’t anymore. They say it isn’t work if you love what you do — well I could also say that it isn’t “studying” when you love what you’re learning.

So what does this mean for me? Well, I will be finishing my bachelor’s degree in Journalism this December, and will have my Holistic Nutrition cert by July. Which basically means I will have the credentials to write about health and wellness from a professional standpoint, and that makes me unbelievably excited! It will open the door for freelance writing, book writing, guest blogging, online articles…so many options.

The biggest thing I want to do, however, is coach. I want to be able to take on clients and truly help people, one-on-one, to overcome their health problems and achieve their emotional and spiritual goals and dreams. Being certified in Holistic Nutrition will give me the tools to do that. It doesn’t just stop at this certification; every year I’m required to log educational hours to maintain my certification, so my learning and knowledge base will continuously grow and benefit my clients, and all of the readers of this blog.

I have already converted this page from blog to website, and will start writing articles in addition to blog posts. I will maintain blogging, but I will be creating a new category in my menu bar specifically for the blog, using my former blog name Letters from Loren, where I will share more personal anecdotes and life updates. The remaining categories will be for recipes and articles about health and wellness.

Something else I am hoping to do is start a YouTube channel. I am very comfortable with writing, so this platform has been wonderful. Recording videos of myself, on the other hand, I find very much intimidating!! I’m going to start with some practice videos and play around a bit with video editing, but when I feel I have the hang of it enough, I will take my YouTube channel live and share that with you all here as well.

The plan for that is to do informational health and wellness vlogging, as well as do things like fridge and pantry tours, cooking videos, food prep videos, etc. I will basically be taking the same things I write about here and putting them in video format, because some people would rather watch than read, so I can cover all of the bases.

As for the coaching, I will be building that into my website as well, when the time comes. For that, I want to complete both my nutrition cert, and my journalism degree, so I can be finished with classes and free to focus on clients. In the meantime, I’m already getting a little practice in on some family members.

My grandmother has been having digestive issues for a while now. She complains of bloating and nausea frequently after eating, and says she can’t eat breads or heavy meats because they always make her feel bad. One of the first things I learned about was leaky gut, and after asking her some questions to narrow things down I’m confident that is what she is dealing with. I was able to write a diet plan for her to work through it, and she is in the elimination phase of the diet as we speak. After a few weeks we will begin adding things back in to nail down the trigger, which could be something like wheat gluten, or could just be an out-of-whack microbiome.

The other person I’m working with, is my aunt. In November she had swelling in her lymph nodes and went to the doctor. Within a few weeks she was diagnosed with a fairly aggressive lung cancer – stage 4. It has metastasized, leaving her with multiple tumors in her brain. She began having seizures due to the swelling in her brain around those tumors, and has also begun radiation. Tomorrow and Friday are her last radiation treatments, then she moves on to either a clinical trial or chemo.

She reached out to me a few days ago and asked for help with her diet. She’s been given certain restrictions, she’s having digestive troubles since starting her treatments and taking steroids for the brain swelling plus seizure meds, and she’s lost a lot of weight very quickly. So I wrote up a plan for her as well that will not only be low-sodium and sugar-free (doctor’s orders), but also give her plenty of fiber and eliminate animal foods and oils. I call it the cancer starvation diet, because that is the primary intent – to restrict the things that cancer cells feed on, while ramping up the things the body needs to fight disease.

This is what I hope to get to do more of in the future — help people in ways that truly count. Help people to take their lives back and flourish. The society in which we live can really dampen both physical and emotional health with processed convenience foods, government recommendations built around industry lobbying, the push from many employers to overwork and prioritize jobs over families and home lives, materialistic values, and a technology driven world where we spend so much time seated in front of screens.

I would love to see that cycle be broken, and that is the goal I will work towards every single day. I hope you’ll join me.




My 2019 Goals Progress Report — How am I Measuring Up?

Dear Friends,

I can’t believe it — two weeks from tomorrow my kids leave to spend the summer at their dad’s. This year is a third of the way over already and it still feels like it just began. The days are flying from the calendar like dust in the wind, and I can’t catch them in my hand. I’ve been craving some calm and downtime lately, because busyness took over my life last month and is the main reason for the rush of those days into my past. I feel like the time is leaping behind me, but I haven’t necessarily accomplished a lot of the things I wanted to.

The busyness has been quite a bit of obligatory things, coupled with some ongoing struggles that are interfering with my energy level and ability to do some of the things I want to do. Now that things are finally beginning to wind down — no more kids to cart around to school and religion classes and band concerts; no class assignments and papers and final exams; no work trips or party planning (except for one at my house next week that I’m super excited about!) — I can finally exhale, relax my shoulders, put up my feet, and assess my progress into 2019.

I shared the trials and tribulations of 2018, as well as my plans for 2019, in my post My 2018 Farewell and Anticipation for All 2019 Will Bring, and now it’s time to check and see how well I’ve upheld the promises I made to myself. Here goes…

Goal #1 – Get my sleep under control

On a scale of 1 to 10? This one gets a 3. The only thing keeping it from the bottom of the barrel is the fact that my sleep was actually improving during January and February. I was making good progress — until the busyness began in March, I slacked off on what I was doing mostly due to not having the time I needed to stick to my plans, and the insomnia came back just as strong as ever.

I stopped meditating. I’ve been missing as many workouts as I’m actually getting in. I haven’t been taking time to unwind before bed, or consistently going to bed at the same time. I feel like I’m going 100 miles a minute, then trying to shut down and go right to sleep, and it’s not working. I have recently been falling asleep easier than I was before, but I’m still struggling with the early waking that just doesn’t seem to want to give up.

I did some deeper research this week on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia and have decided I need to stop going to bed an hour early to try to compensate for the hour it was taking me to fall asleep. The idea is to train my body to wake at the time I schedule for myself each morning, and part of the process is raising my sleep efficiency score. Which is basically the number of hours spent asleep divided by the number of hours you spend in bed. So I’m going to bed at 9 and getting up at 6, but actually sleeping from 10 until 5, or sometimes 4. Which means I’m typically in bed for nine hours, but only sleeping six to seven. I’m taking the average of 6.5, divided by 9, which is an efficiency score of 72%. And that number ideally should be 85% or higher.

So…I’m going to push my bedtime back to 10, and get up at 6, which means even if I still only sleep 6.5 hours, my efficiency rises to 81%…much closer! The main idea here is to train your mind to see your bed only as a place to sleep, not to be awake. So laying in bed for an hour before I go to sleep, then continuing to lay in bed awake for an hour or two before I get up with the alarm, is training my brain to see my bed as a place of wakefulness. And to break that association I need to stay out of bed unless I’m sleeping. Which means not going to bed an hour early, and if I wake up at 4am and am not back asleep within 20 minutes, I leave the room and do something quiet and peaceful until I’m tired enough to fall back asleep — my plan is to go to the living room and meditate.

This is new stuff I haven’t tried before, so here’s to hoping I see some progress! I’m also going to spend my last hour before bed doing things that are relaxing — no screen time or stimulating activities. Soaking in the tub, meditating, yoga, reading, keeping the lights low, etc. My fingers are crossed that this makes a difference!

Goal #2 – Yoga

On this I can rate myself a 7. I’ve not been doing it as often as I’d like in the last month, because as I mentioned before I’ve been missing a lot of workouts. But even if I don’t have time to get a walk in, I still try to do at least abs and yoga since I can squeeze those in on my lunch break if I have to. I’ve definitely dropped the ball on meditation, but I’ve stuck with the yoga. If I was consistently doing it four times per week like I planned, I would give myself a 10. Instead it’s been more like once or twice per week. I definitely need to make more time for it, because four months in my hamstrings are still just as tight as they’ve ever been!

Goal #3 – Explorative Cooking

On this one, I give myself a resounding 10! I didn’t have as much time for it in April, but I’ve still been saving and creating recipes, planning meals and Mediterranean Monday posts, baking and creating for parties, and party planning for friends and family. I think my favorite so far were the steak and bleu cheese tacos I made around the first of April, and I’m super excited about a couple of new taco recipes I’m trying next week at the friend’s dinner at my house I’m calling Fiesta Friday!

I feel like my list of foods to try keeps growing, and I could probably cook every day for a month and still not cover them all. I’m still just as excited for all of them as I was when I started this year, and I don’t think it’s possible to get burned out on it. I love to cook, I love to create, and I love to feed the people I love!


Goal #4 – Fun & Discovery

Specifically my goal was to try new things, go new places, meet new people, and learn new things. My friends and I have a long list of places we want to go this year and events to attend, and we’re slowly checking them off. On top of that, I’ve been getting out of the house, even if I’m by myself, and spending time out and about where I can actually meet people, and experience and try new things. 2019 has been a great year for both fun and discovery so far, including some unexpected ways that wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t set this goal for myself this year.

If you read my last post, then you know I met someone at Beer:30 on April 4th. And I’ve been spending every day since getting to know him more and finding out how shockingly in sync we are in just about every way. We’re both a little in awe at how many similarities and parallels we have, and we’ve not found one single red flag or deal breaker in each other…not one! I’m still feeling a bit of that element of surprise, because I truly didn’t think it could be this easy or comfortable to just “fit” with someone. But we really enjoy spending time together, there is absolutely no pressure, and we’re perfectly satisfied with the pace and natural rhythm we’ve fallen into. To ease your curiosity…here is our first (and so far only) selfie:


And since I know he’s reading this because he subscribed to my blog:

Hi Michael! I want you to know that I appreciate you and all the smiles you’ve put on my face over the last month. You make me feel safe and secure, and always give me something to look forward to. You’re the best and I’m so grateful to have met you on that fluke April event that both of us almost didn’t attend!

Goal #5 – Passion

This one was related specifically to my deepest passion – writing! I have a goal to start writing a book this year, which I’ve done, but have to admit I’ve not dedicated enough time to and am not nearly as far into as I’d like to be. Once the peacefulness of summer enters my life I anticipate getting quite a bit more accomplished on this. As for my blogging – even while busy I’ve managed to stay pretty well on schedule with this. There were a couple of weeks in April where I may have only gotten one post out instead of two, but I didn’t let it stop altogether and I’m pretty proud of myself for that.

I have, however, slacked off on Instagram. I use that platform as a companion to my blog, but I’ve slipped on taking photos, and the photos I have taken I have yet to get edited, so my posts have fallen off over the last month. Which means that is what I need to focus on now that the busyness is behind me. I actually have a few blog posts in the works that are on hold only because I haven’t found the time to take the photos to go with them!

Goal #6 – Read 36 Books

This one I don’t think I actually put in my 2018 year-end post, but it is a goal I set for myself. Last year my goal was 24 books and I blew it out of the water, so this year I bumped it up by one book per month. We just ended the fourth month of the year, and I’ve read 12 books, am in the middle of the 13th, and have number 14 on deck. I also split the books out into “just for fun” reads, and literary reads. Here’s the list so far:

Just for Fun:

  1. Robin by David Itzkoff – this was a biography about Robin Williams that I loved!
  2. Witness: Lessons from Elie Wiesel’s Classroom by Ariel Burger – a biography about Elie Wiesel that I also really enjoyed, and now have Wiesel’s Holocaust memoir Night on my wait list with the library.
  3. Regine’s Book: A Teen Girl’s Last Words by Regine Stokke – this one was for research for writing my own book, about a girl who died of leukemia.
  4. Passing by Nella Larsen – a short novel I read for class.
  5. The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins – if you haven’t heard of Mel Robbins, look her up. She’s a fantastic motivational speaker and I love her stuff!
  6. Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly – the biography that inspired the movie.

Literary Reads:

  1. Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau (more of a long essay than a book, but I digress)
  2. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
  3. Walden by Henry David Thoreau (I promise there isn’t a Henry theme here!)
  4. The Awakening by Kate Chopin – I now officially love Kate Chopin, and I had to order a sticker and have a shirt made after reading this with quotes from the short novel.
  5. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys – written as a prequel to Jane Eyre, which I am now currently reading and already love.
  6. Giovanni’s Room – this one was for class, but it’s a classic by James Baldwin. And it’s definitely an eye-opener to another world.
  7. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte – this one is still in process; I’m about halfway through it and I am loving it so far. I’m also a little sad that the English language has fallen so far since the 19th century.
  8. On deck – Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte; because if you’re going to read one Bronte sister, you may as well read the other one too!

Goal #7 – Stop People Pleasing

This one has been surprisingly easy for me. It goes back to just being true to myself. If it’s something I really don’t want to do, then I say no. And the only opinions I’m concerned with are my own and those of the friends and family closest to me who I know have my best interests at heart. I don’t worry myself at all with what anyone outside of my circle may think of anything that I do. Talk about an anxiety reducer and a stress reliever!

Lastly — I’ve gotten much better about speaking up for myself. In fact, I’ve put it into practice so much that it’s almost become second nature. Honesty is always the best policy, and usually much more good comes from being open and upfront than from holding back out of fear. I feel like, from a self-discovery perspective, this was my last hurdle in a decade-long process of overcoming anxiety, depression, divorce, single-parenting stress, and bad dating experiences.

In Summary:

I think I’m doing pretty well at meeting my goals for this year. I know I need to improve on getting my workouts in, and work harder at conquering my insomnia. With things calming down for me, I think in another four months I will have made quite a bit of progress on those two things as well. So stay tuned for future updates…



My 2018 Farewell and Anticipation for All 2019 Will Bring

Dear Friends,

I’m writing to you from my living room, softly lit by a Christmas tree that has nothing left under it but cat hair and a trailing piece of ribbon or two. My boys are away at their dad’s until after the first of the year, so I have the next few days all to myself. I took a couple of days off from work so I could unwind after all of the excitement of the last month, which gave me time to reflect on the year that is now all but behind me.

While these last couple of months have actually been happy and progressive, the rest of  2018 was chalk-full of bad luck and mishaps; an endless string of one complication after another. This year my will was tested and my patience was pushed to the brink, from the second week of January all the way through to November.

Let’s recap, shall we?

It began with the boys having their bikes stolen right out of our carport on an unseasonably warm day in January. Then they both got rotavirus, followed by the flu two weeks after that, eating up my PTO.  My car battery died in the bitter cold, forcing me to spend money on a new one and call Dad to come install it on extra-short notice. There were a couple of surprise bills and expenses that weren’t exactly in my 2018 budget, to the tune of about $1,500.00. And let’s not forget the now-infamous bed bug fiasco…responsible for about a third of that $1,500.00, all before Spring.

What followed were countless little mishaps, all spread out just right so that I could never really feel like things were settling down. A tree broken in a storm. Sudden repairs inside and outside the house. Storms and power outages the entire week of my vacation from work. By mid-Summer I was constantly on high alert wondering what was going to happen next.

Well friends, what happened next was a man. I hadn’t dated in nearly two years, but I unexpectedly met someone who made me want to open up that part of myself again. Since 2018 seemed to be the year of the curse for me I probably should’ve thought better of it. I think deep down, part of me knew to be cautious because I never shared that information with anyone outside of my regular friend group. I didn’t blog about it, take photos with him to share on Snapchat or Instagram, share anything about him on Facebook, or in any other way publicize our dating. I all but kept it to myself, until now.

Which turned out to be a smart move…fast forward a few months and it all fell apart. His ex girlfriend interfered, and he allowed her to do so. He let her back into his life again, and he kept it hidden from me. His behavior suddenly changed, and I had no idea why. When I found out I was heartbroken. Blindsided. Honestly in complete disbelief since I fully trusted him and never suspected a thing. And I was mad as hell.

I would love to say that I handled it with grace, but I’ve been pretty unforgiving following the chain of events as I worked out my anger and re-centered my life after those few months of upheaval. I’m not sure if it’s a flaw or a positive attribute, but I tend to trust and believe the best in people. When you give people the chance to prove themselves, they usually do. In what way, however, is entirely up to them.

The one final big thing that happened in 2018 was the loss of one of my best friends. It’s something I’ve made peace with and don’t want to dig deeply into since I already shared the full story in a previous blog post. The gyst of it is this: I went to Chicago to visit him and his wife one weekend in July. They were evidently having problems in their marriage, but they said nothing to me about it and kept their plans for me to visit. While I was there, his wife flipped on a dime and I was caught in the middle of whatever drama they had going on, ultimately finding myself stranded five hours from home with no place to stay because she decided at 8pm on Saturday that she wanted me to leave so they could have it out in private. I drove three hours south and stayed the night at my mom’s house, and that was the last time I spoke to either of them.

It’s no wonder that by October I had my first anxiety attack in three years. I try hard to maintain stability and peace in my life, but this year more than challenged that. Despite the constant feeling of being unsettled and the stress that grew along with it, I kept my outlook positive. I knew the rotten luck couldn’t last forever and the storm would eventually pass. Through it all I kept reminding myself–it’s just a bad year, not a bad life. This too shall pass.

img_6090And so it has. Somehow in early November, the dust of 2018 settled. I entered the holiday season feeling strong, at peace, and ready to jump back on the train of forward momentum. Despite the run of bad luck that dominated the first 10 months of this year, some pretty great things have happened as of late. As for my feelings toward the rest of 2018…well, I bid it adieu Geller style.

With that being said, here is how 2018 ended on a high note:

I lost weight! Granted it was 100% due to stress, so it wasn’t exactly the healthiest weight loss regimen. But at any rate I made it through the year, even the holidays, ranging three-to-five pounds below my original goal weight. Despite losing money to unplanned expenses, things made a good turn-around as of late and I’m ending the year feeling much more financially secure heading into 2019. My friendships have strengthened a lot this year. My whole friend group has bonded and I have some amazing people in my life that I can count on and trust with all I have.

Lastly, despite feeling resentful towards this year’s dating experience, I have to admit that it did me some good. How did being screwed over by someone who claimed to think the world of me do me good? Well first of all, the aftermath left me with a renewed focus on my personal life and my goals, and lit a spark under my writing and creativity. I’ve poured myself into my blog in a way I never have before, and even managed to find direction on a book idea. And despite the way it ended, being told constantly that I’m amazing, inspiring, and that he “isn’t worthy of me” was definitely a confidence booster. As odd as it may seem and as shitty as it turned out, I was forced to recognize my self-worth and stop taking it for granted.

“In agony, learn wisdom” –from Prometheus Bound

Now then, here is what I hope for 2019:

Sleep! Along with the stress of 2018, my insomnia returned. I spent a couple of months fighting it, and am finally back on a downward slope. Just one night of insufficient sleep is always enough to put me at half-capacity for a couple of days. I love feeling energetic so I can go and do and explore with nothing to stop me. That requires sleeping well. At least one night per week it seems that I have a crappy night of sleep, and there is nothing worse than feeling tired! In 2019 I’m going to work on getting that cut back to one night per month.

Yoga. This is something that I started about three years ago and didn’t stick with. But now more than ever I want to work at building a strong core. Perhaps the best thing about the stress of 2018 is that I lost weight. I’m below my target weight and am happy to stay there! But there is much more to loving your body than just being happy with your weight. I also want to be strong and in good shape for hiking and running around with my kids. There is nothing better for core strength than yoga, and it has the added bonus of helping ease stress and keep a healthy mindset.

Explorative Cooking. Along with picking yoga back up to keep my body strong, I’m focused on my eating too. I’ve been saying it forever–I’m a sugar addict! And Lord knows there is nothing worse for a waistline than too many sweets. But this goes beyond just eating for health. I’ve subscribed to a couple of cooking blogs, the Taste of Home Magazine, and some foodie Instagram pages. I’ve been finding a lot of inspiration to try new food combinations and put things together in recipes I never would’ve thought about before. So in 2019, not only do I want to be healthy, I also want to explore with my cooking and develop more recipes to keep in my repertoire and share on my blog.

Fun & Discovery. This is something I’ve come to realize over these last couple of months that I want to do more of. And document more of now that I have a fancy new camera! Trying new things, going new places, meeting more people, learning all that I can. I’m going to make it my mission to have at least one fun experience every week. My people skills have always been a little flat–I was the shy kid growing up and I’ve never been good at just striking up a conversation with a stranger. I tend to keep to myself and can be a little slow to warm up with people in person, and that’s a trait I would like to kick to the curb this year!

Passion. For me, that passion is writing. Obviously I use blogging as my primary outlet for that, but there are other things I would really love to explore: poetry, essays, short stories, and supporting my writing through photography. Most importantly though, is starting a book. I’ve always wanted to write a book. As a child I would sit under a tree with a book next to the playground at recess. The world around me would fade away as I was absorbed into a world on those pages, and I would imagine myself as the author of those books, etching the words onto those pages. I always knew that I would be a writer, and my very first vision of myself as a writer, was of me writing a book. I finally have a book idea, and have even developed the two lead characters. So this year it is time to start researching and writing.

Stop people pleasing. Last but not least…I’m moving into the new year with a valuable lesson that life has spent 33 years trying to teach me, and I finally am starting to absorb. If people pleasing was a high crime, I’d be doing life without parole! I’m always more concerned with how the other person feels than I am with how they might be treating me, and as a result I always let people get by with more than I should, give more chances than I should, and make excuses for them when I shouldn’t. This year I will be drawing lines in the sand, sooner rather than later. I will keep close to me the words of my beloved Maya Angelou – “when someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

My word of the year: Explore. That seems to be the best word to describe my goals for 2019.

My color of the year: Orange. This is the color for adventure, and even though orange pairs horribly with my red hair, it seems to fit the theme of my 2019.

My emotion of the year: Hope. Hope for my future. Hope for my dreams. Hope for good fortune. Hope that my friends and loved ones will have the same.

With that, I say farewell to 2018, and look forward to the year to come with renewed hope and peace. In all that you do this coming year, I wish you the very best!


Composite image of champagne glasses clinking