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I am a firm believer that attitude is everything, and that maintaining positivity in your life can bring you some of the best gifts the universe has to offer. Over the past several months, I know that it has been hard for a lot of people to stay positive given the circumstances and uncertainty that has been surrounding so many of us, myself included, so here are some of my favorite ways to stay positive, no matter what.
For me, gratitude is one of the most grounding things and it always immediately puts me in a better mood to take a moment and remind myself of all of the amazing things that I do have. Every morning before I get out of bed, even before I check my phone, I say three things that I’m grateful for and three things that I’m looking forward to that day.
Even if it’s something simple, like being grateful for my extremely comfy bed, or looking forward to watching something on TV, the little things count, too. Also, I keep a gratitude journal and at the end of each day, I write down one specific thing from that day that I’m grateful for. Sometimes it’s a person, sometimes it’s an event, sometimes it’s something about myself.
The point is, remind yourself everyday that you have at least SOMETHING to be grateful for – because you do.
2. Start and end your day on a good note.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who sometimes struggles to get out of bed in the morning, and sometimes loses motivation halfway through the day, so to combat that, I like to plan my day so that I do the two things I’m most excited about first and last.
I love to workout first thing in the morning – it gets my blood moving, I already feel like I’ve accomplished something, and I have more energy in the day. Plus, it’s my time to completely zone out and focus 100% on myself. So, every morning right after making my bed and having my first cup of coffee, I workout. Sometimes it’s just a 15 minute yoga video, but it’s better than nothing and it makes me feel good for the rest of the day.
Especially right now since during the day I’m busy with LSAT prep, law school applications, job hunting, and blogging, I like to have one thing at the end of the day to look forward to. I’m like a little kid, and I need to always have something to be excited about. Even if it’s just a new episode of “The Bachelorette,” or making my favorite mug cake recipe, I make sure to do one nice, fun thing for myself to reward myself for all the work I’ve done that day and to end my day on a good note. I also find that I sleep better when I do this.
3. Surround yourself with positive things.
Your environment can absolutely dictate your attitude. Personally, I’m a brat when things are cluttered or not clean so I know that my area needs to always be clean and organized for me to be able to focus.
Also, I make sure to have things that I like around me. I have a little “hippie tray,” as I call it, on my dresser that has all of my crystals and sage spray. My desk organizers are all in my favorite colors. My bookshelves are full of books and photos and other random things that make me happy. I don’t keep things that make me think of bad times, or moments where I was sad, or that just don’t make me feel good. When I’m surrounded by things that make me happy, I’m happy!
I absolutely love affirmations and they have changed my life in so many ways. When I was on my second College Program at Disney and spending the entire drive to and from work every day, and most of my breaks, sobbing because I was so miserable, I would pull down the visor in my car or go to the bathroom and stare at myself in the mirror while I recitd my favorite “I am” affirmations until I could regain focus and was able to make it through the rest of the day.
I have so many apps on my phone that are dedicated to affirmations and I start every single day with them. Before I check social media or anything else, I read my affirmations for the day. When I get sad in the middle of the day, I go back to them. If I can’t sleep, I say them to myself. There are so many places to find good ones that help you with whatever you need to focus on, and they really have helped me stay positive even in the worst times.
5. Maintain perspective.
It really is a cliche, but it is true that someone always has it worse. But that’s not to say that you’re not allowed to be upset about something, or that your feelings or experiences aren’t valid. They are. Besides, I absolutely think that honoring your feelings – even the bad ones – is necessary.
But whenever I want to throw myself a pity party for something trivial, I think about if whatever that problem is will matter in five days, five months, or five years. That’s something a teacher in high school taught me, and it really does make a difference. It helps me to reframe my problems and realize that most of the time, they’re extremely temporary situations that I’ll get out of soon. Don’t make mountains out of molehills. When I realize that something isn’t going to impact me forever, it helps me realize that I can get out of my funk and go back to being positive sooner.
6. Do something nice for someone else.
I like helping people. That’s why I worked at Disney, and that’s why I want to be a lawyer. When I do something nice for someone else, without a secret agenda or hopes that I’ll get some sort of reward for it, it makes me feel good and instantly improves my day.
A couple of weeks ago, I was walking home from the grocery store when a woman walking a bit ahead of me was struggling to hold her daughter and her plastic bag of groceries when the bag broke. Her things went everywhere, so after helping her collect them, I gave her one of my reusable bags. That bag cost me about 10 cents and it took me less than three minutes to help her out. But it made me feel better to know that I did something to make someone else’s day easier, even if it was just with a reusable bag.
So buy someone a coffee, hold the door for the mom you see struggling to push her stroller through, or give someone a reusable bag. Reminding yourself that you matter, that your existence has value, and that you’re able to make the world a better place – one small step at a time – should always cheer you up. I know it does for me .
7. Take care of yourself physically.
You can’t feel good emotionally and mentally if you’re not feeling well physically. So, hydrate! I am never without my water bottle. Eat good foods. I don’t believe in diets or clean eating, but if you know you’re lactose intolerant, don’t have lactose. If you know that having too many french fries makes you bloated and unable to move, don’t eat too many french fries.
Also, make sure that you’re moving your body every day – even if it’s just a short walk – and get enough sleep. When I was going through my insane doctor visits trying to figure out why I had vertigo for six months straight, the one thing every doctor could agree on was that I needed to sleep more. Sleep is key. Take care of your body – it’s the only one you have.
I know there are lots of other great ways to maintain a positive attitude, but these are my top seven! Ever since I got out of the toxic situations that were holding me back, I feel much more like my old self – the self that was obnoxiously optimistic and always able to see the silver lining. I like being positive and I like being able to look back at a challenge and say to myself, “I made it through that and I did it with a smile.” So, whatever your methods are, stay positive. 2020 is almost over and 2021 is almost here – we can do it!
On Sundays we meal prep.
If you follow me on Instagram, then you’ve probably seen my meal prep photos pop up in my story, for which I only kind of apologize.
I absolutely love meal prepping. It saves me time during the week, it saves money, and I’m much more likely to eat healthy meals if I already have a bunch made. I also think it’s a lot of fun – I enjoy planning out my meals, I like grocery shopping, and then I just put on a good playlist or podcast and get to work!
Since I know that meal prep, or really cooking in general, are not everyone’s favorite things to do I figured I would share some of my tips and tricks to maybe make it a little bit easier to get into it. They say it’s easier to form new habits than it is to break them, so why not start to get into a habit that will help you save money and time, and keep you healthy?
Preparing for Prep
- To start, it helps to have good resources that you know you can go to to find exactly what you want to cook. My brother and sister-in-law got me an InstantPot for Christmas last year (which I HIGHLY recommend investing in if it’s within your budget) so lately, most of my recipes for dinner have been coming from this book: Ultimate Instant Pot Healthy Cookbook
For lunches, my dietitian recommended this book and I’ve been loving it so far: Whole Bowls
Of course, you can also use Pinterest or Google if that’s more your speed. I find a lot of recipes from Chocolate Covered Katie, SkinnyMs, and random Pinterest boards.
- Choose simple recipes to start, this way it won’t seem so overwhelming and you can work your way up to the bigger things. Don’t try and tackle something that will take 50 steps and 4 hours your first time – it’ll just discourage you. I love to cook, yet no matter how hard I try, I cannot make a good meatloaf (ask my brother) so I’ve just learned that it’s not something I should have on rotation.
- Mix it up. If you’re having chicken for lunch, don’t have it for dinner. If you made Mexican last week, make Chinese this week. You’ll get bored too soon if you do too much of the same thing and it’ll be harder to stick with it as you go on. Trust me, I’ve been there.
- I also recommend having a meal prep planner to help you organize what you’re planning on eating throughout the week, especially if you aren’t going to have the same thing every day. I also just feel like it looks very “adult” to have it hanging on the refrigerator, and it makes it easier for me when it’s time to go grocery shopping. Right now, I have this one: Knock Knock What to Eat Pad. but I’m almost out of paper so I have this one coming from Amazon soon: Bloom Weekly Meal Plan Pad.
- Make sure that you have enough Tupperware and containers to store everything. There are lots of meal prep containers on Amazon, but I actually got some really good glass ones from TJMaxx that are a great size, good quality, microwave and dishwasher safe, and affordable. Just find what works best for you and the types of meals you’re planning on making. I typically make salads for lunches, so just one compartment is good for me, but if you’re more into other types of meals, it would be helpful to have at least some containers with more than one compartment. I also like having little glass bowls for breakfasts. Now that I’ve been home more, I just have a bunch of big containers and I put each part of the meal into that and serve it up on the day. Just do what works best for you.
- Be willing to go to more than one grocery store if possible. Sometimes I end up needing some super random item that I can only get at Whole Foods, but no way am I buying EVERYTHING there because I cannot afford that. I like doing the bulk of my shopping at Trader Joe’s and then getting the meat and most produce at the grocery store by my apartment building because I think it’s better quality. It’s a bit more time consuming, but worth it for me to spend money and make sure that the money I’m spending is buying quality food.
- Finally, pick a day to go grocery shopping and then another day to do the actual prep. I like to split it up, personally, but totally your call if you like to do it on the same day. Make sure you have everything you need on your grocery list before going – I’ve totally made that mistake before. I also find it really helpful to always have certain staples in my pantry (which I’ll list below) so that I don’t have to get them every time I need them.
- My number one tip for meal prep is to clean as you go!! It really does help SO much! I also like to take everything that I need out right away and then put things away as I use them. Have a scraps bowl nearby as you chop fruits and veggies, and while one thing is cooking, clean up the prep from it before you start on the next thing.
- Turn on a good playlist or podcast to keep you entertained. Meal prep can take a while, so music or some sort of audio helps me to pass the time. For me that’s usually Crime Junkie, but you do you.
- Read all the recipes first and pick the longest things to make first. This way, you can make your dressings or whatever while the veggies and meat are in the oven or on the stove, and everything gets finished around the same time.
- Whether you pre-portion into individual containers to pull out at meal time, or you like to put everything in one big container and serve it when the time is right, make sure that you let things cool to room temperature before storing them in the fridge. This is not only proper food safety protocol, but it keeps things from getting mushy or soggy.
- Organize your fridge so that things in the front are what you’ll be eating first. It’s a silly thing, but it makes it easier to remember to grab things in the morning.
- Take a picture of all your hard work! Meal prep can be tough, but it’s so worth it. Go ahead and brag about yourself.
- Canned chickpeas. I use these ALL the time so I always have a bunch on hand!
- Canned black beans.
- Grains – quinoa, whole wheat pasta, rice, and couscous are my favorites. I also recently discovered that I might be gluten-intolerant so I might be updating this list soon.
- Oils – avocado, sesame, olive, and flaxseed are my go-tos.
- Canned coconut milk and coconut cream. Great to make a recipe dairy-free/vegan if needed, and also much easier to constantly have than heavy cream.
- Balsamic vinegar, rice vinegar, and apple cider vinegar.
- Nut butters. I am addicted to peanut butter and find a way to incorporate it into at least one meal per day, but whatever your favorite is is always good to have on hand! I do like to have some sort of natural nut butter as well to help make marinades or dressings.
- SPICES! Garlic, parsley, cumin, salt, pepper, paprika… whatever you like, just make sure you have spices!
- Canned tomato sauce, tomato paste, and/or diced tomatoes.
My Favorite Recipes
If you feel like you’re ready to start, but need some inspiration, here are some of my favorite recipes to begin with. I should say that I tend to eat like a vegetarian most of the time just because it’s difficult to cook meat for one person, so feel free to substitute any of the plant-based proteins, or just add in some chicken or whatever it is you like.
- Chocolate Chip Breakfast Squares – I LOVE oats and could eat oatmeal every day and be happy, but these things are so fricking good. I’d make a big batch and then portion them out (and freeze the leftovers) and mix up my fruit and spread combos (strawberries and Nutella, banana and peanut butter, pear and almond butter) and have a perfect little breakfast to bring with me to work. These things kept me full until lunch time every time.
- Overnight Oats – There are a million ways to make them, but for me, my favorite recipe is: ½ cup rolled oats, ¾ unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 1 tbsp chia seeds, ½ mashed banana, and a dash of cinnamon mixed up in a mason jar. Then top with the other half of the banana (sliced), melt 2 tablespoons of peanut butter in the microwave and drizzle on top, and finish with a bit of honey. So, so good.
- Smoothies – I’m weirdly obsessed with smoothies, no matter the weather, and it’s so easy to just bag up some of your favorite frozen fruit and a handful of spinach and throw it in a blender with whatever liquid base you like when you’re ready to have it.
- Salad with arugula, roasted chickpeas, tomato, cucumber, red onion, feta cheese, and kalamata olives topped with Greek dressing.
- Honey sriracha glazed meatballs.
- Turkey & hummus pinwheels (just a wrap sliced into bite-sized pieces), with carrots & celery, grapes, and cheese slices.
- Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas – I’m also a huge fan of sheet pan meals – they’re so easy to make and very minimal clean up afterwards.
- Vegetarian Crockpot Lasagna Soup.
- Pasta e Fagioli – I added zucchini to mine to get some more veggies in, and also because I’ve been on a weird zucchini fix lately.
On weeks when I don’t feel like eating the same thing every day, but I do want to have some easy-to-make things on hand, there are a few things I do on my meal prep day just to get a headstart on being healthy and prepared for the week.
- If you have a slow cooker, one of my favorite things to do is get some chicken breasts (between 1.5-2 pounds, I just buy them wherever they’re on sale that week) and place them in the crockpot, season, and cover with chicken broth or water (just enough to cover completely), and then cook on low for about 6-7 hours. Once they’re done cooking, I take them out, use two forks to shred, and then after it’s cooled, portion out the chicken into freezer Ziploc bags and store them until I’m ready to use them. They defrost in less than an hour, and I’ve made quesadillas, burrito bowls, chicken salad, and more with this.
- Chop up a bunch of fruits and veggies (again, I usually buy what’s in season and on sale) so that you can easily grab them for snacks or to add into your lunches and dinners. There’s also nothing wrong with frozen vegetables!
- Cook up a big batch of quinoa or rice, and make a homemade salad dressing or marinade (like one of these) so that if nothing else, you can mix some with some arugula or kale, whatever veggies you chopped up, some defrosted chicken or shrimp (I also always have cooked frozen shrimp on hand for a quick defrost), and toss some cheese and dressing on top to make a good lunch or dinner.
I hope that this helps! Enjoy!
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2020, am I right?
I’m sure I’m not the only one who has used the pandemic as a chance to reassess certain aspects of my life, learn new things (I was baking bread before it was cool), spend more time with family, and get back to the basics, more or less. So, in honor of 2021 being less than 3 months away, I wanted to share 19 things that I’ve learned during the pandemic and quarantine.
Some of these are pretty general, some are more personal, and some are things I’ve already known that were further proven over the past several months. But, I think that pretty much all of these are things that just about anyone can relate to.
1. Family is the most important thing.
I feel like this one should be a given, but, just in case. Part of why I wanted to leave Disney and hospitality in general is because I was tired of missing birthdays and holidays, and I needed a job that allowed that. I am so lucky to have a mom that loves me so much that she pretty much forced me to come down to Florida the second that things started to get bad because she didn’t want me to be in Boston alone. I would have gone CRAZY if I’d been up here by myself! As much as I missed Boston sometimes, I had so much fun spending time with my parents and family. I got to see my niece’s first steps, and hear some of her first words. I got to take my other niece on our first aunt/niece date night which was easily the best “date” I’ve ever been on, and such a fun night. I binge-watched like five shows with my mom, and got to spend more time with my dad. At the end of the day, jobs are temporary, but family is forever.
2. Life rarely goes the way you planned.
Oh man, at the beginning of this year, I was done with school, I had accepted an amazing job that was going to allow me to travel and give me more autonomy, I had just met a guy that I was convinced was the one, and I was happy with where things seemed to be heading. Now, I’m unemployed and single, but guess what? I’m still happy! I thought that everything at the beginning of the year was a set-up for all the things that I had planned for this year, and now pretty much none of them have happened. And that’s okay. The universe has other things in store for me. I just need to go with the flow.
3. Never be loyal to a job that isn’t loyal to you.
This is something that my dad has told me for years, and is why I once quit a job that was just destroying my mental health after about three months of working there, but I feel like in light of recent events that some of my friends are going through, it needs to be said again. Again, jobs are temporary. EVERYWHERE is a business. No matter how much you love a company, or how great they seem when you get hired, things are not the way they used to be. Your #1 job should be to take care of yourself – if you can’t do that, you’re not in the right career.
4. Make pursuing your passions a priority.
I’ve told myself for years that I wanted to get certified as a barre instructor, that I wanted to learn lettering, and that I wanted to blog more. It took the quarantine to get me to start doing any of those things, and I feel more fulfilled now than I have in awhile! Make the time to do the things that you just WANT to do, not what you need to do. It’s so rewarding, and maybe you’ll find what the next step in your life needs to be through that.
5. Self-care is ALWAYS important.
Y’all know that I’m the self-care queen, so of course I had to throw this in! I don’t care if it’s a five minute meditation, a bubble bath, journaling, or just lighting your favorite candles while you eat dinner – I want you to do some sort of self-care every single day. YOU are the most important person in your life. You can’t help others, you can’t do your job, and you can’t do your other tasks if you aren’t taking care of yourself. It doesn’t have to be much, just do something to take care of yourself. Make the time for it. It is vital.
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