#LookForLove Challenge | Weeks 1 & 2

In an effort to hold myself accountable, I’m going to chronicle my journey through the six-week #LookForLove Tone It Up Challenge! I’ve been on the #TIUTeam for almost three years now. I have done a number of different programs in the last three years — many of which I loved — but I always find myself turning back to Karena and Katrina for their positivity and confidence. And I also feel like we would be BFF if we knew each other in real life.

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Tone It Up Challenge

I have really enjoyed the first couple weeks of this challenge! As long as I’ve been following Tone It Up, I’ve never really followed the weekly schedule they write. I would use their workouts, but pick based on whatever I felt like I might want to do that week. So far, I’m enjoying the way they’re making the schedules. Every since they added the Daily Moves feature, the workouts are much more prescriptive.

Tone It Up Challenge

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The first couple of weeks have been so much fun! I’m loving all the new workouts and collaboration with Jillian Michaels fulfills so many of my fangirl dreams! Right before starting this challenge, I finished Jillian’s BodyShred program and a lot of the TIUxJM workouts are very similar to it. I love them!

Tone It Up Challenge

My nutrition the first week was completely lackluster. My Christmas vacation didn’t end until last Monday, and I took full advantage of vacation mode! I didn’t meal prep anything and I snacked a lot. Honestly, I kind of enjoyed it, but I’m paying for it now. This past week was much better on the clean eating track, though I did have a few slip ups. I need a chocolate detox, haha.

I can feel the changes and the effects of the workouts on my body, but I’m not seeing a lot of measurable changes yet. In fact, I’m actually up a couple of pounds since starting the challenge. That’s probably due to my wild Christmas vacation. 🙂 But I’m not going to stress over two or three pounds because those pounds represent fun, rest, and loving my body enough to loosen the reigns for a short time. I’m looking forward to getting back into my #mealprepsunday habits and staying on track for the remainder of the challenge. Four weeks to go!

Anyway… I’m off to get my hair cut and enjoy this last day of my three-day weekend! If you have the day off, what are you up to today? Are you participating in any January fitness challenges?

Work-Life Balance as a Teacher

I used to think that being a workaholic was the only way to do a job, and do it right. As my life morphs and changes, I’m realizing that work-life balance is just as important as the effort I put into my 9-5 (or my 7-4:30, as a teacher). By nature, teachers give (and give and give), but it’s important to remember that you can’t pour from an empty cup. Work-life balance as a teacher is something I’m always working to master. Since my guiding word for 2017 is balance, I’m making a concerted effort to focus on it from the get-go.

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work-life balance teacher

I thought when I started teaching I would be working shorter hours and have more free time. Ha! I couldn’t have been more wrong. I work more as a teacher than I ever did at my 8-5 desk job, even though my “office hours” are only 7:45-3:20. I am by no means an expert in anything. I figure life out as I go by trial and error. What follows are a few tips that help me balance and keep me living the healthiest life I can.

ONE // Make a list of your Must Do tasks each day

This probably seems like the most simple and obvious tip. Like, duh. But really, I am so much more productive when I have a list to follow and I can mark things off as I go. Everything goes on that list: Grade daily warm-ups, start lesson plans, make copies… The list goes on (literally). Even something as simple as “Update objectives and date before leaving” goes on my list or I may not do it. And if I don’t do it, then I come in stressed the next morning because I already feel behind and that stress affects other areas of my life. Following a list each day has done more for my work-life balance this year than anything else I’ve done.

TWO // Use your planning period for planning

This seems unheard of, am I right? Between staff meetings, 504s, parent conferences, restroom breaks, that 45-minute planning period can fly by faster than Christmas break! Take the first 5-10 minutes of your planning period for yourself. Check –> Facebook <– (shameless plug), eat a quick snack, go to the restroom without asking, “Hey, can you watch my class?” first. Whatever. Take those 10 minutes and then close your door and just bust it out. Grade if you need to grade. Lesson plan if you must. Doing as much as you can while still in the four walls of your classroom will keep you from working more at home.

THREE // Take some time for yourself every day

My “me time” consists of a workout and some Bible study time first thing in the morning. First of all, I’m so much more awake and alive for my students after a morning workout! Second of all, spending time with the Lord does wonders for me in all areas. The sense of calm and balance I feel after prayer and time in the Word changes my entire day. Find something that brings a sense of calm to your life and promotes the person you are all the time, not just in “teacher mode”.

FOUR // Say… NO!

I’m a “yes man” for sure. It’s hard for me to say no to anyone, but I’m beginning to realize there’s nothing wrong with saying no every now and again! I get very overwhelmed very easily, and when that happens, my husband always says, “Nothing is going to change if you don’t do something about it.” I finally had to buck up and gain the courage to stand up for myself and I think I’m respected because of that. All that to say, it’s ok to say no when you’re feeling overwhelmed. You can’t do everything or be on every committee and no one should expect you to!

FIVE // Set a time and shut it off

As I mentioned, I work more as a teacher than I ever have in any job. I work at school, I work at home, I work on the weekends. However, each day I try to set a time that I will no longer work on school things. Usually, that’s when my husband walks in the door from work. If you feel like you are constantly working at home, pick a time after which you’ll shut it down. Or pick an activity that won’t allow you to multitask. That could be cooking dinner with your significant other, fitting in a workout, or reading a book.

SIX // Get it done early

Each school year is different, but this one especially, I feel like I’m constantly behind. I try to complete my lesson planning by Wednesday so I have the end of the week to fine-tune and prep materials. Sometimes working ahead is impossible, but most of the time it will work to your advantage if you can get it done.

SEVEN // Do the work you hate the most at school

I read this tip once and it was like a lightbulb went off. I used to bring home stacks and stacks of grading each night, just to take them back to school the next morning. I don’t like grading at home and I’d rather not do it. I try to grade one assignment per day before I leave school to make it easier on myself by the end of the week. This also gives me more time at home for activities unrelated to school.

Ok, your turn. How do you balance work and life?

How To Wake Up Early to Work Out

Maybe you made a New Year’s Resolution to workout. Maybe you made a New Year’s Resolution to work out in the mornings. Sometimes, that’s certainly easier said than done, but dragging yourself out of the bed is half the battle. Here are a few of my tips for how to wake up early to workout!

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how to wake up early to work out

I have been working out around 5 a.m. for about five years now. I have always been a morning person for the most part, but I wasn’t always a 5 o’clock in the morning person. 🙂 I’ll never say that it’s easy, but 99 percent of the time, it’s worth it — for me!

ONE // Find an accountability group

This tip was the game changer for me. In the beginning of my health journey, I joined a morning boot camp. There were two time slots offered — 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. I would have never made it to work on time if I joined the 6 a.m. group, so 5 a.m. it was! Knowing that each morning, 30 other women were counting on me to wake up early and meet them was incredibly motivating. I knew if I didn’t come, I could expect a “Where were you??” Facebook post a few hours later.

TWO // Lay out your workout clothes the night before

This one may seem insignificant, but it makes a huge difference. When you’re trying to fit in a workout before starting your day, every minute counts. It saves me so much time knowing my clothes are ready to throw on as soon as I roll out of bed. My husband also appreciates that I’m not rifling through the drawers and making a lot of noise that early. 😉

THREE // Go to bed earlier

One key to waking up earlier is going to bed earlier! If waking up early begins to be a habit for you, then going to bed at an earlier time will likely become a natural consequence. I’m usually asleep by 9:30 at the latest. Gotta get those Zzz!

FOUR // Pre-Prep Your Pre-Workout

What is your pre-workout of choice? A lot of people stick to plain old coffee, but I usually drink Spark. I save my coffee for after my workout because I simply don’t have time to wait for it to brew. I can mix my Spark the night before and stick it in the fridge. After I’m dressed and meander my way into the kitchen, it’s just a few minutes before I’m ready to get to work!

FIVE // Stop Hitting Snooze — JUST DO IT

I could tell you to put your alarm on the other side of the room, but if we’re being realistic, you probably use your phone as your alarm. Your phone is probably plugged in next to you all night long! I know mine is. What finally got me out of my snooze habit was getting married. My husband is NOT snoozer and he would be so annoyed if my alarm kept going off every nine minutes. 😀 If I was going to wake up early, I finally just had to get over my excuses and do it.

What time do you choose to workout? Do you have trouble waking up early?

If you enjoyed this post, check out 5 Advantages of Morning Workouts!

Chocolate Almond Post Workout Smoothie

Hey, friends! Any of my teacher friends heading back to school today?! I started back last Friday, but my kiddos come back today. So on this first day back to school, here’s a post workout smoothie recipe you can make as you’re running out the door. This post workout smoothie is easy, fast, and tastes great!

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post workout smoothie

For most of us, mornings are crazy busy. When I’m trying to head out the door and get to school, a smoothie is sometimes the easiest thing to grab. Over Christmas break, I threw this together quickly after a workout and I know I’ll be going back to it again and again. Post workout or snack time smoothies are a great way to get in your macronutrients with some micronutrients thrown in too. 🙂

8 oz. unsweetened almond milk
1 scoop of chocolate protein powder
1 tbsp. almond butter
Small handful of sliced almonds
~1/2 c. spinach
1/2 c. ice

Simply blend ingredients together until smooth and you’re ready to go!

For this PWO smoothie, I used our Nutri Ninja Auto-IQ. We received it as a wedding gift and I love it! It’s been one of our most used items.

Do you have some favorite go-to recipes after a workout?

Bi-Weekly Briefing

This blog has been running for… about two weeks now. I know we all lead ridiculously busy lives and don’t always have time to sit at the computer for hours and peruse our favorite blogs. A lot of teachers like to do an activity called “Ketchup & Pickles” when things get particularly busy. This allows students who are behind on work to catch up (get it?!) on anything they’ve missed, and students who are all caught up to pick(le) another activity they want to work on.

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So, if you’re new around here (which, you are, because I JUST started blogging again), or if you’ve missed any posts in the last couple of weeks, you can ketchup below. I’ll also include some of my favorite posts from other bloggers over the last few days, so you can pick(le) to read one of those if you’d like. 😉


You can also catch up with me in any of the following locations: Instagram // Pinterest // Facebook // Bloglovin


Two weeks ago, I screamed “Helloooo” down an echoing canyon and introduced this blog to the world.

A few days after Christmas, I shared some tips for getting back into the swing of your fitness routine after the holidays.

five ways to bounce back after the holidays

I wrapped up my first week back to blogging by discussing my 2017 word of the year.


This week I talked about my big, lofty goals for the year 2017.

Goals for 2017

I also took a few minutes to link-up with Helene in Between to review the year 2016. You know, it gets a bad rap, but 2016 was pretty great for me.

I told you all a little more about me and introduced you to my sweet dog, Pippa. 🙂

Yesterday, I shared 5 Advantages of Morning Workouts for all you who may be struggling with that New Year’s Resolution to get your sweat in before the sun comes up. 😉

advantages of morning workouts


Also going on in blogland lately…

Danielle shared her go-to treadmill workout.

Stephanie shared some of the best ways she’s simplified her life.

Crystal share some of her family’s Elf on the Shelf Shenanigans and included a wonderful story about the Innkeeper’s Key. It’s such a great idea for those of you with kiddos!

And Helene, of course, shared her own 2016 in review. What a fantastic year she had!