Positivity Can Work Wonders

IMAG6346I have been focused on my mental health my entire adulthood. As I said in my introductory blog post, I grew up in a rough family situation. The negativity I experienced daily had an impact on my relationships, interest in school and overall demeanor. I was fortunate enough to have some wonderful people in my life though that showed me love and understanding. They through their kindness helped me realize I did not want my life to continue to be negatively impacted by what I had been through.

Going away to college allowed me to be removed from the endless family drama, which made a huge difference in behavior. I have also taken my yoga practice and mediation more seriously. This has help me become more conscious of myself and present in my life. I found a lot of power in being confident and spreading positivity. It can help change your day, as well as the day of those you connect with.

For instance, I try to regularly message people I feel close to to wish them a good day or week in the morning to start of my day by spreading some love. I try to smile at and greet people I run past in the morning, even though city folks usually respond with a funky look.  I try my best to spend some time each week to focus all the things I’m grateful for in life. Doing these seemingly little things has improved my mood and made me genuinely happy.

Now, I am realistic. I know no one can be happy and positive all the time. There are moments when you need to mourn or address negativity in your life. At the moment there seems to be so much hate and violence in the world between the recent shootings in the States and terrorist attacks across Europe. I do not ignore these things. However, I feel taking out my sorrow in a negative way does not improve the situation. I have hope that issues can be resolved and pray that love will preserver over hate.

I choose to respond to hate and negativity with spreading love. Even if you had a rough day today, each day is a blank canvas and you have the opportunity to change your tomorrow. How have you kept things positive? Share in the comments below. Hope you have a beautiful start to your week!



Health is Relative


I have said this before and I am going to keep saying it, everyone is different. Therefore, we all view health in unique ways and a lot of us will change how we define it as we learn more from doing our own research. There are standards set in place based on medical research for doctors to evaluate an individual’s health, such as a normal weight range for your height and build. However, fitting within ALL of the medical standards may not mean you are completely healthy. It also is obvious we all have a difference of opinion as to what is healthy. So ask yourself, “how do I define healthy?”

I define being healthy as feeling good mentally and physically to be able to live a happy life. I see it more as being about quality of life. What do I need to be happy? For me this means I take time for myself mentally and emotionally, I do not eat processed foods 80-95% of the time, I avoid foods that I know cause me digestive inflammation (diarrhea, bloating, gas, intestinal cramping, constipation, etc.) and I workout every other day while being active everyday.

I meditate, workout, talk through any overwhelming feelings I develop, keep things positive as much as possible and try to socialize regularly. I make 80-95% of the foods I eat from scratch. The other 5-20% of the time I just enjoy my food while hanging out with my wonderful friends and family. I get IBS flare ups when I consume fried/high fat foods, alcohol, beans with meat, processed foods and cane sugar. I will get into more detail about food and eating in a future post. I run, do resistance training, do HIIT workouts or whatever I feel like to get my heart rate up and my mind clear every other day. Every day I’m always doing some sort of activity because that is when I’m at my happiest. This is how I stay healthy.

I really started defining this for myself while I was searching for recipe ideas and nutrition advice in 2015. There are SO MANY diets/lifestyles out there, but I have always felt as though none of them fit me perfectly. So it is important to think through this to start getting into a healthy routine that fits for your needs, schedule and lifestyle. Now, I find it easier to make the right choices when it comes to working out and fueling my body with the right foods without it being stressful. It is a very personal thing and I hope that my example helps you get started because you just might feel better for it.

If you want to share how you define health, comment below!

Finding What Works – Fitness

Vloggers and Bloggers all get hit with tons of hate when they share what works for them. Most of them never intend it to be a statement of what works for everyone, because nothing works for everyone. Everyone is different. Viewers and readers need to look at it more as these folks are merely sharing what they have found that works for them and you can learn for it.

It takes time to figure out what works for you and then you can still discover new things as you learn of new stuff. I have given a lot of options a try and I still am trying new things. That is my method to figuring out what works for me, try new things that fit what I know what I want to get out of it. So I always start off asking myself what I’m looking for for my health and fitness.

When it comes to finding workouts or activities, I know I want something that does not cost more than $20 a month to do 3-4 times per week and to feel great during and after the activity because that is what will keep me doing it. I am not in to fitness to look smoking hot or get ripped or look like someone else. I workout to feel great. A good workout can help me let go of stress, feel awake, be more positive and feel strong.

Walking and running are always free and a great workout. Growing up in a mid-sized city during a time without all the technological gadgets we have now, I walked everywhere to get around. When I left for college that did not change, especially since I was without a car. I walked a total of 6 miles just to go to Target to browse for fun.

College did provide me with something new, a gym. I had never used one nor been inside one before. It was intimidating, at first. I do not think I actually use my campus gym until my Junior year of undergraduate. However, after a few visits, I realized it was not that intimidating. All the equipment had instructions on them on how to properly use them and what muscles they worked.

Now, I live in a bigger city again and gyms can be expensive. Thankfully, there are some affordable options. The park system has neighborhood gyms at about half of the parks throughout the city that you can join for less than $20 for a 3 month membership. There are also discount gyms, like Planet Fitness or LA Fitness. I have participated in a few Meetup events for a discounted fitness class.

However, I am cheap. I have opted to become an outdoor runner and invested in some weights (3, 5 and 8 lbs), a yoga mat, foam roller, jump rope, and exercise ball. Running outside is completely free and I love being outdoors. Being in nature is like therapy for me. Investing in some fitness equipment has also worked well for me since the affordable local park gyms are not open during the time I have to workout before work.

I bought all of my equipment on a discount because I refuse to pay full price on almost everything. Amazon can be a great place to find reduced priced equipment, discount stores such as Marshalls or ROSS carry some quality items and Aldi usually has some equipment in January for cheap, but a place that can go over looked is a local resale shop just for sporting goods. If you live in rural areas you might know of Mennonite or Amish stores, they could carry fitness equipment for much cheaper than your typical retail stores.

I have also invested in some fitness guides and videos. Though I am starting to design my own workouts, these few guides have really help me try out more resistance training that can be done at home. Plus, there are so many personal trainers out there on YouTube and Instagram who give you full samples of their work online. I have found that I really just need to try their free stuff and if I enjoyed how they motivate me and their workouts then it is worth the investment of their guide. So far, that has worked out well for me.

You really just need to stop and ask yourself, “What am I looking for?” before spending your money or wasting your time. That simple question has saved me from buying ALL THE THINGS, when I ended up only truly enjoying one of the things. Share below what workouts you have found that work for you. There are opportunities out there, you just need to learn where you can look for them.


Health and Happiness on a Budget

Hello! I am Julie. I currently live in the Midwest and work for a wonderful non-profit museum. I am turning 30 today and decided I would finally make the move to blog about the things I love to talk to folks about, outside of what I already do for work. Which could include everything amazing I have learned in life, but mostly living a happy, health lifestyle on a budget. Although, some of what I do for a living might find its way here because I feel my job is the coolest!

Some background on me, I grew up in a mid-sized Midwest city in a blue-collar family with a lot of money issues, among other problems. As an adult I have worked hard to turn all those negative experiences into motivation to create a better life while living within my monetary means (there have been many bumps in that road, however). I decided to go to college for something I really enjoyed, Astronomy, thanks to the advice of my high school chemistry and physics teacher. It made my family nervous for me, but it all worked out into a beautiful journey that shaped me into who I am and I am happy to share it.

I did not even know or understand what I could do with a degree in Astronomy at first, but once I started college I learned some options, which lead me to research and a PhD program. While in graduate school, I realized I did not want a PhD. However, I did learn that I love communicating science to a variety of audiences. So I jumped into a museum studies program and after an internship ended up at one of the finest institutions in the states. This professional journey involved a lot of ups and downs, and while all this was going on I struggled with relationships, health, and self-esteem. Things all of us deal with at one point or another.

Around the time I changed my career goals in graduate school, I decided to add to my challenges by taking health and fitness seriously for the first time in life. I had seen many of my peers have such balanced, happy, rewarding lives. I felt so left out as they would talk about their morning workouts and well planned healthy meals. I felt as though health was more challenging than working on my education and career. I had no clue what being healthy really meant and being active was an off and on thing throughout my adolescence and adulthood. Looking back though, I always have been my happiest when I was active a few times per day. Additionally, I have always been slightly overweight, at least 5-10 lbs above the healthy weight range for my height and bone structure.

It was not until April 2012 that I began to take fitness seriously, though I still felt I was missing some piece to the puzzle. Then in May 2015, I was forced to make some serious diet changes, which resulted in my weight finally reaching within the healthy range for the first time in my life. It lead to some surprising feelings and studying nutrition to make sure I was giving my body what it really needed. Nutrition, another word I did not really understand before this past year, but I have become so passionate about it. I am even thinking about going back to school to become a health coach on the side.

Through this blog I hope to share what I have learned about health, fitness and happy living within a reasonable budget. I have gotten into the best shape of my life, traveled around the world and become the happiest I have ever been all while living on a budget. Saving money is not just something I do because I grew up in a tight financial situation. Like most of the country, I make less than the U.S. average salary. I know I would like to get married, buy a home, and retire one day. So living within my means is essential to meeting my long-term goals.

I hope that by sharing my life with you will help encourage you to take the steps you need to have a balanced, happy life. This may not work for everyone else, but it is not about you following everything I have done. I have learned so much from others sharing their story with me. It has motivated and inspired me to make better choices for myself, whether those choices were similar to others or completely different. I believe it is about finding joy in the journey and mine would not be same without the stories that were shared with me.