This is 40 – Part 2

This is the moment of truth. Well, it’s part 2 in what will probably be 4 moments of truth, but it’s time to take a look at this 40 week project. If you haven’t read part 1, you can find it here. It’s time for me to go back over my list and share what I actually accomplished, what I didn’t and why it even matters. I’ve copied my original list below. You’ll see a check mark next to the items that I completed. You’ll see some items crossed out and replaced by other items that I deemed more interesting or important. You’ll also find items that I just didn’t get to with either a justification for not doing it, an explanation that I actually didn’t and couldn’t be bothered to write about it or a plan for doing it in the near future. Find out how I fared below.

To Do BEFORE July 18, 2017

  1. Start a blog. Because writing gives me perspective. √
  2. Run a 10K √
  3. Learn to cook treasured family recipes. And share them with my family. √
  4. Put down my phone. I’m way too attached. It’s a problem.√ Note: I definitely spent some time on this one and I’ll be honest, I still need to work on this. Which is why it’s highlighted in red. 
  5. Put down the remote and read a book already! √ If I could give this half a check mark I would. I started and did not finish a few really great books. And I still watch too much TV. But I did listen to several great books on Audible. So I consider that a win.
  6. Camp in the winter. √
  7. Stop saying I’m sorry for no reason. I never actually wrote about this one but once it was on my list it became something I thought about a lot more. I was aware every time I apologized for something that needed no apology. This was also the case with #9 below. I consider this a half-win. I haven’t conquered my misplaced apologies or my propensity for interrupting, but I’m far more aware of it now.
  8. Stop interrupting. Sometimes I can’t stop myself.
  9. Share our Christmas stocking tradition with everyone. √
  10. Try yoga. I’ve been told I have the flexibility of an 80 year old woman. √ No thank you yoga. NO THANK YOU.
  11. Create Christmas memories with my family. √
  12. Don’t complain about anything for an entire week. Ha! I tried to do this twice and failed. And I don’t really care. It’s not like I’m a massive a-hole that complains constantly. Moving on!
  13. Start the 52 Hike Challenge. √ Well, I certainly did start this challenge, but I will most certainly not finish it. I was diagnosed with tendinitis in my foot and my doctor advised a break from running and hiking, my two favorite forms of exercise. It’s forced me to try new things in fitness and while I still work in a hike or run with some frequency, I try to do workouts that don’t cause burning pain in my foot because burning pain.
  14. Lose another 20 pounds. Stop driving myself crazy and change my focus to being healthy and strong over being skinny. √ You know this has been a huge focus of my personal goals probably because it’s such an ongoing battle for most women. I am happy to report that I am slowly working my way to total body acceptance and love. I’m not there yet but I’m owning it. I workout a lot and I workout hard. I’ve lost some more LB’s but I will probably never have that magazine image body. I mean, I know I won’t. It’s literally physically impossible for me to look like that. I have a massive abdominal scar, cellulite on my thighs and I’m like 6 inches taller than most women. But I’ve worked hard to look the way I do and I feel really good about that. And I will wear whatever the hell I want. 
  15. Do something I’ve been dreading. √ 
  16. Try Zumba. I’m not coordinated. This should be interesting. Try Orangetheory Fitness. √ See # 13 and #14. Orangetheory is MY JAM. I am stronger than I’ve ever been and every workout is a challenge. It feels like an accomplishment to leave that place drenched in sweat and panting. 
  17. Do something that makes my eyes roll. Sometimes being judge-y keeps me from doing awesome things. √
  18. Get a good night’s sleep. √ Still needs work, but what mom isn’t perpetually exhausted?
  19. Date my husband. √ I’m doing way better at this one! In large part due to our move to a new neighborhood. See #32.
  20. Be present and engaged with Little C. I’m going to need some rules for this one. √ You win some, you lose some. This is much like # 7 and # 8 where just having it on my list helps me be more aware because I have an intention. Some days I feel like super mom. Some days I feel like getting in my car and driving far away to a hotel and sleeping for 3 days because I can’t take another meltdown. I’m going to go ahead and assume that’s normal.
  21. Take Little C to the snow. √
  22. Cook more from my vast collection of cookbooks. Try a meal kit delivery service because ain’t nobody got time for that. √
  23. Make plans more often with my girlfriends. Find a mentor. I haven’t really found a mentor yet, but I have found an accountability buddy/bully. More on that in part 4 of this series!
  24. Go TV & non-essential phone use free for 1 week. FAIL! FAIL! FAIL! Needs to be revisited.
  25. Try meditation. At least once a day for a week. See what happens. √ Meh. 
  26. Take a leap of faith. √ Quit my job! (And then be forced out my house and assume fetal position).
  27. Visit a national park I haven’t been to before. √
  28. Update my wardrobe with a few quality pieces instead of throwing clearance items in my cart while on a Target run. Try Stitch Fix. √
  29. Go for a walk on the beach by myself. I have no idea why this one was so hard for me to make time for. It’s not like I don’t make time for myself, but I don’t make a lot of intentional, reflective time for myself. Must revisit.
  30. Don’t spend any money on non-essentials for an entire month. Stick to my budget. √ Getting booted out of your house is enough to make anyone dial it back on the Target runs.
  31. Start a babysitting swap. Because babysitters cost a lot of dollars. √ This might be the crowning achievement of my 40 Reasons list. And it wouldn’t have happened had we not been forced to move. We have some good friends who live just a few blocks from our new place. They also have boys and kids get along like GANGBUSTERS! Or LEGOBUSTERS! We have worked out a regular kid swapping situation that has changed our life. We can now go on dates and not feel like it has to be the BEST DATE EVER because who the hell knows when we will do this again. It’s pretty amazing. I hope we don’t find a way to ruin it.
  32. Learn Snapchat. I don’t even know why this was on my list. I don’t need to waste more time on social media. I already figured out how to do that with Insta Stories. Moving on.
  33. Join a book club. I was close on this one. My cousin invited me to hers. I bought the book. I read two chapters. Then I slapped myself because I was moving in a few days and really did not have the time. I’d like to revisit at some point, but I’m realizing I can’t do everything. At this point, I naturally choose family, fitness, friends, food, fun, fodka, ya know things that start with an f for my free time and reading does not start with an f.
  34. Do a mud run. I have not done this yet, but I’m planning on doing the Spartan Race in January. I’m terrified.
  35. Try stand-up paddle boarding. √ I’m going to check this off because my dear husband reserved spots for us at an REI paddleboarding class in a few weeks! Woohoo!
  36. Run a 5K at a 9 minute mile pace. This one I threw in the towel on. See #13. I’m good with it though. My priorities have shifted.
  37. Start the Six Pack of Peaks ChallengeThis one is on pause also because of #13. Although I really, really still want to do it. My goal is to summit Mount Whitney some day and these peaks would be a great training run. 
  38. Teach Little C to swim. √ Our little munchkin is slowly learning to swim on his own in our community pool. And now he refuses to wear a floatie because they are for babies. Sigh. He starts lessons soon, right after he turns 4 because anyone under 4 has to wear not 1, but 2 swim diapers. And since he won’t even wear a floatie because HE IS A BIG KID, you can imagine how jamming him into 2 swim diapers would go. I don’t need a round house kick to the face, thank you very much.
  39. Take a kickass trip for my 40th birthday. √ I’ll be blogging about my birthday trip down to the karaoke, hot chicken and whiskey in an upcoming post. 
  40. Create a community. √ This is the one I’m most proud of. I have definitely found a community who wants to get after their goals, support each other and cheer each other on, and for that, I thank you all so much. 

Since that was a monster list, I’m going to share how I feel about my list and what’s on my next list in part 3 of this series. And yes, there is a next list. Stay tuned!

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#31days31workouts is back!

It’s that time of year again!

#31Days31Workouts is back!

I know. I KNOW!

It probably seems like we literally just did this challenge, but I promise you, it has been six whole months. Besides, this time around may actually be easier because the weather is beautiful, we’re not all juggling holiday parties, and swim suits are looking at us like heeeeeyyyy! Remember me?

If this is your second, third or fourth challenge, WELCOME BACK! We are so happy to have you on board!

If this is your very first challenge and you’re not totally sure why you’re signing up for this and don’t necessarily think you can do it, I promise you, you can and you will.

I still remember when Jill, my bestie and partner-in-sequins, asked me to do this challenge two Decembers ago. We were both terrified. We didn’t think we would be able to finish. We both felt weird about posting our workouts on social media. But guess what? We both finished and we both learned a lot about ourselves. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that finishing the challenge was pivotal for me in making some major life changes. The momentum and confidence that I gained from setting a goal, sticking it to it no matter what, remembering why I started in the first place, and then actually finishing it…it’s powerful stuff.

So now that you are thinking like a champion, let me give you the deets on the #31Days31Workouts challenge.

It kicks off on Wednesday, May 31st and ends on Friday, June 30th.

You must work out for at least 30 minutes every single day for 31 days. A workout means you break a sweat. Alternative option: you must complete 31 full workouts in 31 days. We have had past challengers who have schedule limitations bust out two workouts in a day to stay on track. You do you.

You must try at least two new things to challenge your fitness game.

You must workout outdoors at least 8 times, basically twice each week. Get outside people!

You must workout with a buddy at least 4 times, or once each week.

What’s your thing? 

This challenge has taught me so much about what I truly enjoy when it comes to working out. Hint: It’s not yoga. Maybe you already have a thing you love or maybe you’ll be out there this next month trying new things until you find it, but we want to know what your thing is.

Post a photo of each workout on Instagram to track your workouts. Tag me – @fortyreasons and Jill – @styledbyjill, so we can cheer you on. Also, if you’re not following @styledbyjill on Insta, DO IT! Totally inspiring and really, really good outfits. Use the hashtags #31days31workouts #whatsyourthing #strongnotskinny, if you please.

The most important rule of all is DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOU. Maybe you can’t find a buddy to work out with or you live in the desert and outdoor workouts are dangerous in the heat, whatever the case may be, do what works for you. The most important thing is to commit to the goal and to get there any way you can.

Oh and did we mention there will be prizes? This go-round, we are working with some cool brands to give out swag to some of our most inspiring challengers. Stay tuned for details, more info and hot tips on crushing this challenge in the next week.

Let’s do this!

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The 3rd Trimester List


It’s the Fiiiinaaaaallll Countdown! I’m already into the final trimester of this 40-week project to gestate an adult woman. As a reminder, I am not pregnant, I just like really confusing analogies.

Confession time. I’ve fallen a scooch behind on my to do list and now I have to cram. Classic Emily. I’m going to be doubling up some weeks in order to get through my list on time and I’m okay with that because as far as I’m concerned, this project has been a raging success.

If you look at my original to do list here, you will see all of the items I still need to complete in bold.

The list below is my plan for the duration of the project and you’ll see makeup assignments listed in italics. Things I could use outside help with are highlighted in an irritating shade of lime green so you know just how much I need your help.

Stick with me guys, I got this!

Week 27 – April 11 – 17 – Stop interrupting. Sometimes I can’t stop myself.

Week 28 – April 18 – 24 – Stop saying I’m sorry for no reason.

Makeup work: 

Week 20 – Cook more from my vast collection of cookbooks.  Try a meal kit delivery service because ain’t nobody got time for that.

Week 27 – Stop interrupting. Sometimes I can’t stop myself.

Week 29 – April 25 – May 1 – Go for a walk on the beach by myself.

Week 30 – May 2 – 8 – Don’t spend any money on non-essentials for an entire month. Stick to my budget.

Makeup Work: Week 22 – Go TV & non-essential phone use free for 1 week.

Week 31 – May 9 – 15 – FREEBIE

Makeup Work: Week 23 – Try meditation. At least once a day for a week. See what happens.

Week 32 – May 16 – 22 – Start a babysitting swap. Because babysitters cost a lot of dollars. Anyone? Anyone want to do this?

Week 33 – May 23 – 29 – Learn Snapchat.

Makeup Work: Week 11 – Don’t complain about anything for an entire week.

Week 34 – May 30 – June 5 – Join a book club. Who wants me? Any takers in San Diego County?

Week 35 – June 6 – 12 – Do a mud run. Planning to do the Marine Corps Mud Run at Camp Pendleton. WHO IS COMING WITH ME?!

Makeup Work: Week 21 – Make plans more often with my girlfriends. Find a mentor. Anyone know any female bloggers, writers, or entrepreneurs that they want to connect 

Week 36 – June 13 – 19 – Try stand-up paddle boarding.

Makeup Work: Week 5 – Put down the remote and read a book already!

Week 37 – June 20 – 26 – Run a 5K at a 9 minute mile pace.

Week 38 – June 27 – July 3 – Start the Six Pack of Peaks Challenge.

Week 39 – July 4 – 10 – Teach Little C to swim.

Week 40 – July 11 – 17 – Create a community.







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Week 15 – Try Orangetheory Fitness

orange theory fitness

I haven’t always been the workout type, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts. I never understood women who had a regular gym routine or fitness classes that they loved. I marveled at their discipline and the willpower they surely possessed to suffer through a StairMaster session. I hated gyms. They were boring and awful and I would much rather be outside or, more often, curled up on my couch. But I envied them. I wished that I had that desire to workout.

That all changed about 18 months ago. I think it was a combination of being fed up with my lack of fitness and energy and fed up with my pants being too tight and the realization that I was pushing forty and it was feeling like now or never. I’ve tried the whole fitness and weight loss thing before and it never really stuck. I’d fall off the wagon and then just put the notion of exercise being a part of my life on a shelf in the back of a closet. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about why it stuck for me this time and how I became one of those women who actually enjoys working out. The only answer I’ve come up with is momentum.

I gave it a chance. I stuck to what I set out to do and I saw it through long enough to see progress. And I’m not talking about sticking it out for months, I’m talking like two – three weeks. I started to see real progress in how long and far I could run in a few weeks.

Side note: I highly recommend the Couch to 5k app if you are starting at a place of zero fitness!

Progress gave me momentum. I wanted to see more progress so I kept going. As I felt myself getting stronger and weight started to come off, it energized me. It renewed my commitment to getting fit and staying fit week in and week out.

When I created my list back in October, more than a year into my fitness journey, I added several active and outdoorsy items because there were new, physical challenges I wanted to tackle. If I’m being totally honest, a lot of them were still in my comfort zone. I originally had Zumba on my list of things to try because my gym has a lot of Zumba classes and I figured, why not? But it started to feel like less of a challenge and more just something to do because it was available. So I recently scratched it off my list for something that was way more out of my comfort zone, Orangetheory Fitness.

You see, even though exercise has become a very regular part of my routine and even something I look forward to, I still don’t think of myself as a gym girl. I run, I hike, I do HIIT workouts at home, and I occasionally do classes at my gym. I’ve even tried yoga. No thank you.  But I don’t see myself as the Crossfit type or the Orangetheory type.

I was introduced to Orangetheory about two years ago by one of my besties. She’s always been physically active so when she described the classes to me, it sounded great…for her. Fast forward two years and the girl is Orangetheory aka OTF 4 life. She has OTF friends. She wins OTF competitions. And her body…well, it’s ridiculous. She could probably kill me with her bare hands. I want to add a disclaimer here that she has some serious muscles but doesn’t look like a ‘roided out wrestler because I know that matters to some women. I can’t tell you how many women I’ve heard say, I want to be strong but I don’t want big muscles. I’m going to save my rant about wanting to hide your strength and smashing the patriarchy for a future post, but just know it is coming.

Anyway, my friend looks amazing. She loves the workouts and she won’t shut up about her #OTF #fitfam. Once I started taking classes at my gym, she started nudging me more. She saw that I enjoyed being pushed by an instructor and she went in for the OTF kill. I finally agreed to take a class. You can take a free one if you’ve never been before. I convinced a friend to join me and I went to my first class two weeks ago. I was nervous because I imagined being forced to climb a rope or lift a car off someone, but I think I had that confused with Crossfit.  I was afraid that I would be the slowest, weakest person in the class. I assumed everyone would be super fit and throwing tires around the room. I didn’t think I’d be able to keep up.

Here’s how an Orangetheory class actually works. There are three stations in the room: treadmills, rowers, and a floor area for strength training. You rotate through each section while a coach directs you on what you should be doing while you are on that station. You wear a heart monitor so you can see your name and stats, along with everyone else’s, up on screens around the room. The stats tell you what zone you are in (hint: orange burns a lot of calories, hence Orangetheory) and how many calories you are burning. You use the zone color to determine if you need to push harder or dial it back.

Here’s what actually happened during the class:

  1. No one was throwing tires.
  2. There was a wide range of skill and fitness levels.
  3. I was so focused on completing my assigned workouts at each station that I wasn’t concerned with keeping up with anyone else.
  4. It’s definitely not about keeping up with anyone else or comparing yourself. It’s about focusing on what you need to do and pushing yourself to your limits.
  5. The energy was really good. The coach was awesome and encouraging and the people around me were friendly.
  6. High-fives and fist bumps with your neighbor are encouraged.
  7. The heart rate monitor really helped hold me accountable and really push myself during the workout.
  8. I sweated like a maniac during class and for about an hour afterward.

I bought a membership immediately after class and I’ve been back for two more classes. I’m totally hooked. I also feel fantastic for the entire day after the workout so I’m pretty sure my endorphin levels must be off the charts. After the first two classes, I was sore for several days. Not so much with my third class.

I am so so so glad I tried it. The walls are adorned with messages like “Goals are dreams with deadlines” and “Think about why you started” and “Don’t just wish for it, work for it” and it makes me all like HELLLL YEAAAAAH!

If someone had told me two years ago that I would be a fitness junkie and that the majority of my laundry each week would be sports bras and activewear, I would’ve said that it wasn’t possible. I wanted to want to workout, but I didn’t think I was that type of person. It turns out I just needed to set some goals and get some momentum going. It’s made me wonder what else I’m selling myself short on because I’m pretty damn sure that I can find a way to be whoever I want to be, all I need is a little momentum.

Share with me in the comments (either here or on social media) what you think you may be selling yourself short on. What’s the thing you want to be but think it just isn’t you? Is it something that can actually be accomplished with a goal?

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Week 13 – Strong not skinny

Strong not skinny has been my motto for a while now. You may have noticed that I made it my focus for a week during November as an attempt to reboot my eating habits and ramp up my fitness level. You may have also noticed that I used it as my focus for the first week of the new year for the very same reasons. You probably also noticed that I spent the entire month of December working out. I literally stopped only once to wrap some presents and chug a carton of eggnog. If you didn’t notice then I’m going to assume you swore off social media because I was pretty much fitness spamming everyone.

I’m a little late in getting this post up because it’s a complicated topic to write about. Primarily because there’s the way I want to feel about my body and the way I actually feel. And it changes all the time. It’s a very fluid situation with a lot of mixed emotions. I don’t think there’s a single woman reading this that doesn’t already know exactly what I’m talking about even though I haven’t gotten specific. Probably some men too. I can’t comment on how men feel about this because I’ve never been one. But I can tell you how I feel and what I’m learning in my quest for strong not skinny.

What I know

It’s really, really hard to be a woman and feel good about the way you look. From birth until death we are inundated with images of one kind of beautiful woman. We all know what a beautiful woman is supposed to look like because we see her all over the damn place.

She’s tall, but not too tall because she needs to be smaller than a man or else she’s not feminine.

She’s thin. For a while it was best to have protruding bones and appear perpetually hungry, but now that is gross, so she should be curvy but only in the places that are acceptable like her boobs and butt, and she should definitely not have cellulite.

She’s white. If she isn’t white, she should have similar features to a white woman and her skin shouldn’t be too dark.

She’s feminine and sexy and she’s definitely not assertive, funny, loud, or flawed.

She doesn’t exist.

Let’s take that enormous pile of Photoshopped images of non-existent women that we see every day and add to it the fact that women in TV and movies are disparately young. Let’s also add that it’s not uncommon to have a gray haired actor or middle-aged dad bod playing opposite a thin, twenty-something actress and we get the message loud and clear.

The message is that women are only good when they’re young, pretty, thin and in a supporting role. Ladies, once you hit 30 and put on a few extra pounds and wrinkles, please DISAPPEAR.

That’s why this is so complicated for me. It’s not just about how I feel about the way I look. It’s the insidious reasons why I am so conflicted about the way I look. It takes a whole lot of deprogramming to undo the messaging we are bombarded with from childhood. I’m an intelligent, adult woman who understands that what we’ve been sold is a seventeen ton mountain of bullshit and I still struggle with body image. It’s that pervasive in our culture and in our lives. Knowing is really only just the beginning of the battle.

Let’s zoom in from this big picture of real deal insanity to just one woman. Me. I was always fit and thin-ish growing up. I played sports year round and I ate Twinkies every damn day and I never thought much about losing weight as a teenager. I did criticize every single inch of my body as teenage girls nearly all women are prone to do. As I got older and less active, my weight crept up, little by little. Then came the pregnancies. And a surgery that left a a vertical scar on my belly from bra to bikini bottoms. Whatever chance I had of looking like “her”, that idealized, phony image of beauty that we all measure ourselves against, was gone. But let’s be honest, it was never a possibility to begin with. BECAUSE SHE DOESN’T EVEN EXIST!!!!

Sure, you may know someone that looks a lot like her, but that someone has their own struggles and issues and self-loathing. Having a body that is like “her” is not a cure all. You still have to like yourself and be grateful for the body you have.

For the past year and a half, I’ve slowly clawed my way out of rock bottom fitness and peak non-pregnancy weight. I spent a lot of time pretending not to care about my weight and thinking I was pretty damn accepting of my body. It turns out when you don’t take care of yourself and you aren’t making an effort, you don’t have much choice but to accept things. When you are working your ass off and struggling and not always seeing results, it’s a lot harder to be accepting and loving to yourself. I’ve lost weight and gained it back and then lost it again. I’ve tried all different kinds of workouts to find my groove. And I did it all in the name of being strong and healthy and being able to keep up with my kid. I told myself and everyone else that I wanted to feel better and I wanted my clothes to fit better, but deep down, I also really, really, really wanted to look like “her”. AND SHE DOESN’T EVEN EXIST! It’s madness really.

Even though I worked out every single day in December, I still gained 5 pounds. Because I ate everything. I literally said no to nothing. I had the exercise thing pretty down pat but my eating habits needed a major overhaul. And a realistic one at that. I couldn’t do something short term or quick fix. It had to be something that would work forever. Just the way I’ve incorporated exercise into my life.

What I’m doing now

Everyone has their own weaknesses when it comes to food. Mine, in no particular order, are junk food (processed food, fast food, anything with 30 ingredients I can’t pronounce that is really crunchy), booze (craft beer, good wine, cheap wine, dirty martinis, bourbon with one rock, margaritas…this is just the first page of the list), and sweetener (I like to add Splenda or Stevia to my cold brew). I also love cheese the most of anyone ever, but I refuse to put it on the bad list because I don’t believe it is. But I also love, love, love vegetables.

I decided that the best option for me was to cut out processed foods, mostly. Processed foods tend to have a lot of sugar and a bunch of stuff that isn’t what my body needs. I believe they are called empty calories. I figured if I started there, that would leave me with a lot healthier options. I also decided to stop adding sugar and sweetener to most things. And to lean toward lower calorie adult beverage options.

I’m only a few weeks in but I feel like this is really going to stick. I had two days of silently suffering and wishing for a box of crackers to crunch on but then the cravings passed. Also, I have no intention of being perfect with this endeavor. I’ve eaten out and ordered whatever the hell I wanted a few times. I’ve had a few double IPA’s in addition to my skinny cocktails. Because this is about finding a healthy solution that will work for my life. It’s a lot of planning and prep, but it’s getting easier and easier.

In 2 weeks, I’ve dropped 7 pounds and I feel really, really good. I’m also working out 5 days each week, which seems like a breeze after the 31 days 31 workouts challenge. While this is not a fitness blog, I’ll be posting details on Instagram and Facebook about what I’m eating that is awesome and some of the workouts I’m loving. If you have stuff you love to eat and workouts you love, please share them with me. I’m always looking for new inspiration. I’ll continue working toward my fitness and weight loss goals with a focus on good health and strength and complete and total appreciation for my body, scars and all. It’s the only one I’ve got. Now excuse me while I go drink some tea and eat these cashew butter and quinoa bars I made and wonder what the hell is happening to me.

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The Second Trimester List Shakeup

I’ve officially entered the second trimester of this project to birth an adult woman. In 26 weeks, I will turn 40 and I intend to do it feeling absolutely fantastic about where I’ve come from, where I’m at at, and where I’m going. If you have a “normal” pregnancy, the second trimester is supposed to be the best. You’re not nauseous anymore, you have more energy, and you have that pregnancy glow. Whatever the hell that means. I don’t know what a normal pregnancy feels like because mine sucked big time, but I think I’m having better luck with my fake pregnancy.

I feel really good about this project. I can see where some of the small changes I’ve made have translated into better habits and more intentional behavior. I’ve found myself putting into practice some of the items on my list without even having to devote an entire week to them. I think the simple act of writing them down has made them stick in the front of my mind. I’ve also learned A LOT about goal setting and how much these little, tiny changes impact the big picture goal. When I first made this list, I considered what made sense for my life as it existed in that moment. I thought about what was realistic to accomplish with my schedule and my obligations, which is, I think, a very practical approach to fulfilling a goal. In the last 13 weeks though, I’m seeing things that I didn’t see before. What once looked like limitations or obstacles now look like a minor problem to be solved, a challenge to be completed.

My list is evolving and my dreams are getting bigger. I’ve had some things tucked away in my heart that I wanted so much, but they seemed too big and too scary to go after. But this is the second trimester and I’m not nauseous anymore and I have way more energy to do this thing. I’ve outlined my list below for the next 13 weeks. Don’t be fooled by some of the ordinary titles, there are some sleepers and some plot-twists lurking within. I can’t wait to share them with you over the coming months. I’ve also edited some of my existing items to fit better with current goals. And what I’d really, really like to know, is what goals you guys have that you’re going to knock out this year. Share them with me!

The Second Trimester List

Week 14 – January 10 – 16 – Do something I’ve been dreading.

Week 15 – January 17 – 23 – Try Zumba. I’m not coordinated. This should be interesting. Try Orangetheory Fitness.

Week 16 – January 24 – 30 – Do something that makes my eyes roll. Sometimes being judge-y keeps me from doing awesome things.

Week 17 – January 31 – February 6 – Don’t spend any money on non-essentials for an entire month. Stick to my budget.

Week 18 – February 7 – 13 – Date my husband.

Week 19 – February 14 – 20 – Be present and engaged with Little C. I’m going to need some rules for this one. Plus take Little C to the snow.

Week 20 – February 21 – 27 – Cook more from my vast collection of cookbooks.

Week 21 – February 28 – March 6 – Make plans more often with my girlfriends. Find a mentor.

Week 22 – March 7 – 13 – Go TV & non-essential phone use free for 1 week.

Week 23 – March 14 – 20 – Try meditation. At least once a day for a week. See what happens.

Week 24 – March 21 – 27 – FREEBIE

Week 25 – March 28 – April 3 – Visit a national park I haven’t been to before.

Week 26 – April 4 – 10 – Update my wardrobe with a few quality pieces instead of throwing clearance items in my cart while on a Target run.

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Week 12 – The 52 Hike Challenge

Hiking is the one form of exercise that has never failed me. Or maybe I should say I’ve never failed hiking. I’ve never had to force myself to go on a hike. I’ve never cursed hiking while I was hiking and just wished hiking wasn’t a thing. (I’m looking at you running. And yoga. And burpees.) Until very recently, it was the only form of exercise I truly enjoyed.

I love being outdoors. I love the distraction of the scenery. I love the conversation with my companions. If I’m alone, I love that the time is mine to reflect or to listen to whatever I want. I love the friendly greetings from other hikers and mountain bikers. I love that moment when you make eye contact and smile and acknowledge without speaking that you share something in common. I love the reward of the vista or the waterfall or the quiet meadow or grove of trees that you didn’t know was waiting for you.

I’ve often tried to identify another form of exercise that I might fall in love with the way I have with hiking. It would have to be outdoors. It would have to be something that I would get absorbed into the act of so I wouldn’t think about how hard my body was working. I considered skiing or kayaking or stand up paddle boarding, but those things require even more time and a lot more gear than hiking. I came to the conclusion that there is just simply no good substitute for a hike.

In the past two years, I’ve made more time for hiking, but I’m still not going as often as I’d like. We have a few books on hikes in San Diego County and Southern California that we use to find new trails. I also follow several great hiking Instagram accounts, which is how I stumbled upon the 52 Hike Challenge. I went down the Instagram rabbit hole to learn more about it and found a whole hiking community in my backyard that I didn’t know existed but am excited to be a part of. I knew instantly that it would be on my 40 Reasons to do list. Boiled down to its simplest terms, you hike 52 times in one year (at least a mile), or once each week.

The goal is to make hiking a part of your weekly routine. At first, I didn’t think I’d be able to find the time to hike so often. It’s a time consuming choice of exercise and most of us struggle with packed schedules and lives. I live really close to a lot of trails and it still takes a minimum of 20 minutes to get to a trail head. And then the hike itself is typically going to take 90 minutes to 2 hours, if you’re doing a short one. But for me, making the time for a weekly hike has been so worth it. See paragraph A. There’s just no good substitute for a hike. There’s no better way to stretch your legs, open your lungs, and find the space to clear your head. If there is, I haven’t found it yet. But if you know about it, you must tell me. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to 49 more hikes with my friends, my husband and little one, and MYSELF and the joy of exploring on foot. Holler at me if you want to join me!

Learn more about the 52 Hike Challenge here!

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Finished is better than perfect.

I’m a little behind right now on blog posts. And pretty much life in general. I’ve sat down a few times this week to write an update on kicking off the 52 Hike Challenge and then I remember I also need to write about my new focus on being #strongnotskinny. And then I remember I haven’t written a proper update on my #31days31workouts challenge. And then I curl up in the fetal position to cry and have trouble getting into the fetal position and I realize I didn’t write a proper recap of my yoga endeavor. And then I wish I hadn’t already watched the Gilmore Girls reboot on Netflix because I would rather be in Stars Hollow than at my desk.

I don’t have a time machine to go back and write those posts when I was supposed to write them and I don’t have a secret stash of extra hours hidden in my closest. If I did, you can bet I would use them to catch up on sleep or watch all five seasons of The Wire for a third time and not for writing these posts.

But who cares if this isn’t perfect? I’m not striving for perfection, I’m striving to finish, and last time I checked, I’m doing that damn thing. So I’m going to flip this post on its head and do something I didn’t plan. It’s a brand new year and I’m one third of the way through this 40-week project and I’m going to do the blog equivalent of a sitcom clip show and recap where I’ve been and what’s next. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves how far we’ve come so we can see the progress we’ve made and say to ourselves “Wow. You’re kind of amazing!”

Without further ado, cue the wavy screen effects and let’s jump back in time, shall we?

The First Trimester

The first trimester of my 40-week gestation of an adult me began with…

Week 1 – October 11 – 17 – Start a blog. Because writing gives me perspective.

I’d been saying I was going to start a blog for a looooooong time. I still remember the sick feeling I had in my stomach when I posted the link to my blog on Facebook and invited friends to like it.

All I could think was “What am I doing? No one will read this! This is stupid. I’m stupid.” Then I slapped myself and said “You’re amazing and this is a good idea. Now get your shit together and let’s do this.” 

Week 2 – October 18 – 24 – Run a 10k.



This week gifted me one of my favorite pictures of myself ever.






Week 3 – October 25 – 31 – Learn to cook treasured family recipes. And share them with my family.

lemon meringue pie



This week I learned a lot of stuff about my mom through making pie. I also learned that pie is really hard and I’m cool just having a cheese plate for dessert. But mostly, there were some really beautiful life lessons.



Week 4 – November 1 – 7 – Put down the remote and read a book already!


This week turned into ‘Put down my phone. I’m way too attached. It’s a problem.‘ because it needed to. You can read my original post about my issues with being phone addicted here. If you’re wondering how I’m doing, I will tell you. I’m doing better. A little better. I am not on the phone as much as I used to be and I’m much more present for my husband and kiddo. But I did start browsing on it at night before bed. Oof. Just writing this down makes me want to recommit to the no bed phone use again. But progress!



Week 5 – November 8 – 14 – FREEBIE.

This week ended up being the previous week’s displaced ‘Put down the remote and read a book already!‘ I read MOST OF Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. It’s a fantastic book and I still haven’t finished it. I completely blame the election, which I haven’t spoken of since this post. I really can’t even give it too much energy because I’m still shocked that we, and by we I mean Russia, elected a president that cares so little for actual information and facts and truth and so much for retaliatory tweets and bullying. I can’t even muster a joke about it.

Week 6 – November 15 – 21 – Cook more from my vast collection of cookbooks.

This week turned out to be ‘Lose another 20 pounds. Stop driving myself crazy and change my focus to being healthy and strong over being skinny.‘ I needed to refocus my energy on this with the holidays coming. As an aside, I have been cooking a ton from my cookbooks since I started this blog, I  just haven’t taken the time to photograph anything.

Week 7 – November 22 – 28 – Camp in the winter.


This week brought a Thanksgiving camping trip and some early morning snuggle time in the tent. It also brought on an accidental 10 mile hike with a 3 year old, but man, the views were worth it!





Week 8 – November 29 – December 5 – Share our Christmas stocking tradition.


The most rewarding thing to check off my list so far. After this post, I had a really beautiful, overwhelming response to Charlie’s stocking. I mentioned having the beginnings of an idea to grow the tradition in this post and I will be sharing it with you in the near future!




Week 9 – December 6 – 12 – Try yoga. I’ve been told I have the flexibility of an 80 year old woman.

I started the 31 days 31 workouts challenge this month and I thought this would be a good time to try yoga. I made a commitment to go to one class each week for the entire month. The outcome? I feel slightly better about yoga than I did when I started the challenge. Actually, what’s a little more than slightly? A smidge? A hair? It’s still more than that, but it’s not a lot better. Yoga is really uncomfortable. You’re basically supposed to hold really awkward positions that start to hurt and you’re supposed to focus on your breathing instead of the fact that your foot is totally cramping and you might fall over and fart at the same time. Despite all this, I ALWAYS left class feeling peaceful and restored. There was just that middle part when I was stabby and hateful. Basically, I might do it again, but I just don’t know if I’m a yoga person.

In this post about yoga, I mentioned that tea is not my cup of tea. (Tee hee…tea hee!!) Some of you let me know that you VERY STRONGLY DISAGREE. Well, for all you teabaggers out there (tea hee), you will be happy to know that I may have converted. My sister-in-law, who either doesn’t read my blog or does and hates me, sent me this really pretty ceramic tea cup with an infuser. She also sent some loose White Chocolate Peppermint Rooibos Tea from Teavana that smelled like angel kisses and baby snuggles. I decided to give it a try and it’s replaced my morning cold brew four out of the last seven days. I’m actually going to buy more tea today and try out different flavors. What is happening to me? Is it because I did yoga? Why am I enjoying tea? Am I going to start drinking scotch next?!

Week 10 – December 13 – 19 – Put down my phone. I’m way too attached. It’s a problem.

Since I already worked on the phone issue with moderate success and I’ve shuffled around a bunch of weeks, I took a FREEBIE here. I decided to make this week about creating Christmas memories with my family. In theory, it was a lovely idea. The one thing I didn’t factor in was that my family includes a three year old that recently yelled at me for cooking bacon too loud. In the end, our Christmas memories included a lot of watching videos of people building Legos but even more great times with family, friends and ugly sweaters.


Week 11 – December 20 – 26 – Don’t complain about anything for an entire week.

I was too busy to complain and too busy to remember not to complain. I have no idea what happened.

Week 12 – December 27 – January 2 – Start the 52 Hike Challenge.

This week I totally rocked. I finished 31 straight days of working out for my #31days31workouts challenge on the last day of 2016 with my first hike of the 52 Hike Challenge. I followed that up the next day by kicking off 2017 with my second hike of 52. If you couldn’t tell, I like a challenge because it gives me a goal to work toward and makes me accountable. I never in a million years thought I’d be one of those annoying people who posts about their workouts on social media, but it works for me and so I do it.

I first did the 31 day challenge last year, December 2015, at a point when I really needed it. About 4 months earlier I had started to get physically active again after a period of health issues and difficult pregnancies that left me unable to exercise. I had weight to lose and I had a lot of work to do to get my fitness back. Around December, my commitment was starting to waver and my weight loss had plateaued and I was in danger of losing the ground that I had gained.

My dear friend invited me to the do the challenge with her and it terrified me. I knew in my gut that I needed to do it. I knew it would keep me on track. I agreed but I didn’t think I’d be able to finish it. The first week felt like I had been working out every day for a year and that it would never end. I got a really bad cold and still muscled my way through. It was all so public that I didn’t want to give up. I couldn’t fail. And I didn’t!

It changed me in a way that I can’t totally explain. It made me realize that I was capable of things I didn’t even know that I was capable of yet. It made me realize that I could not make excuses anymore. I may not always finish everything I start but I own when I choose to give up. That challenge helped give birth to 40 Reasons because it made me know that I could do anything I wanted to do as long as I made the choice to do it.

That challenge led to another one in the summer and then another one to close out 2016. It has grown to include more of my friends and acquaintances and a lot of people I wouldn’t know until they jumped in on the challenge. I have been so inspired watching everyone that participated.

There’s the friend from college that doesn’t work out on Sundays for religious reasons so she made up the missed workouts by doubling up on several days.

There’s the friend that despite holidays, very cold weather, and a trip to Mexico, showed up every day to do a challenging workout and even got her family involved.

There’s the friend who emailed me quietly to tell me that she wasn’t posting on social media but 10 of her friends were doing the challenge together and holding each other accountable.

And there are the people that started the challenge and didn’t finish or didn’t workout every day but still tried it and that is a badass thing to attempt in December. Literally the busiest month of the year. You guys all rock and I can’t wait to see what challenges you take on next.

Week 13 – January 3 – 9 – Lose another 20 pounds. Stop driving myself crazy and change my focus to being healthy and strong over being skinny.

I’ve kicked this off with a whole lot of food prep and an ongoing commitment to fitness. Stay tuned for the next post to learn what I’m doing, how I’m doing it, and how much I already want to give up but won’t.

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Week 11 – Wait, what was I supposed to be doing?

As I unwind myself from a tangled ball of Christmas lights and gift wrap, I find myself thinking, wait, what was I supposed to be doing? And then I remember. This past week was about not complaining. Um yeah…this past week was about family, Christmas, eating everything, and making merry. I completely forgot about not complaining. The good news is that I was too busy to complain much and did not use the eye roll emoji once when texting, but I definitely did complain. Even though I dropped the ball on this item on my list, I feel great about the way the week went.

First things first. Charlie’s Stocking was a raging success. A lot of great things happened in Charlie’s name this year. And not just from our family, but from friends and strangers and people I haven’t seen or talked to in years. Because of Charlie, toys were donated to less fortunate kids, blood was given, wilderness was preserved, homeless were fed and kept warm, money went to education centers in Africa and to foundations that fight cancer and help support the families of pediatric cancer patients, and to a very special NICU, and the special people that work in that very special NICU were fed on Christmas Eve, kindness and compassion was spread all over the place, and time was taken to appreciate and love those around us.

The best, best, best part of Charlie’s stocking this year is that it wasn’t just about Charlie. We were introduced to other people who had lost loved ones and were able to give and do kind things in the name and memory of their loved ones. The one thing I remember so vividly after we lost Charlie is that I just wanted to hear his name said by other people because it felt like he wasn’t so far out of reach. I wanted to know people remembered him and that he mattered. Giving a small piece of that to other people who have also had their heart broken by loss made my heart feel full. It’s spawned an idea in me that keeps tickling a little corner of my brain and the more I scratch it, the bigger it gets. Once it turns into a full blown rash, I will share it with you. Just know I have big plans for Charlie’s stocking. Or hives. I’m not sure which yet.

This past week, despite not completing my prescribed task, was also a success because I’m kicking ass on my 31 days 31 workouts challenge. I only have 3 workouts to go to put this one in the books and I feel great about it. I also feel like I’m made of 80% butter, cream and goose fat, but January and a fridge makeover are just a few days away.Until then, I’ll just be floating on this leftover prime rib in a sea of cream-laden potatoes. I’m looking forward to taking my fitness to new levels in January and feeding myself all the vegetables that have been replaced by cookies and animal fat in December.

A quick note about the image accompanying this post. It’s a dog wearing funny glasses. It doesn’t go with anything but since it’s a dog wearing funny glasses it goes with everything.

What’s up next

Week 12 – December 27 – January 2 – Start the 52 Hike ChallengeOne hike each week for a year or a total of 52 hikes. Can’t wait to get this one going! Who is joining me?

Week 13 – January 3 – 9 – Lose another 20 pounds. Stop driving myself crazy and change my focus to being healthy and strong over being skinny. I’ve technically already been working on this but I have big plans for January in terms of fitness and I’m guessing I’m not alone in this.

Week 14 – January 10 – 16 – Try meditation. At least once a day for a week. See what happens. Ommmm.

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Week 9 – Cool People Do Yoga

Have you ever had something you wanted to do because in your head it just seemed like a cool thing to do? The idea of it just feels like something that should be a part of your life even though you have never done it and don’t know anything about it. And you can’t quite figure out why it seems cool but you just think it is. Like, I want to be a person who surfs. Or I want to be a person who drinks black coffee and likes it. Or I want to be a connoisseur of fine Scotch. For the record, I will never do any of those things. I unapologetically like my coffee over ice with sugar and cream and Scotch tastes like a smoky rock to me. Also my fear of sharks and sea monsters is greater than my desire to be a cool surfer chick with washboard abs.

But there are definitely some things on my 40 Reasons list that are cool inside my head. Yoga is one of those things. In my head, people who do yoga are like ballerinas: long, lithe, and limber. They are graceful and strong and wear adorable messy buns and have cute butts and drink tea. Sidebar: I have no use for tea. It’s hot water with seasoning. There are a million things I’d rather drink before I drink tea, Scotch included. But there’s a part of me that wants to drink tea wearing a messy bun sitting on my cute yoga butt.

There are obstacles to my yoga fantasy though. I have the flexibility of an 80 year old woman, although I’m certain there are plenty of octogenarians that are more limber than me. Another obstacle is that I don’t like doing things I’m not very good at. My downward dog is more like downward frog because I’m bent and making grunts that are not unlike a deep ribbit sound. I tend to stay in my comfort zone which is half the reason I started this blog in the first place. Before this week, I’d tried yoga exactly twice. I liked the mindfulness element of it and how clear-headed and mentally relaxed I felt after. I hated the awkwardness and discomfort of the poses. I decided to put yoga on my list because cute butt fantasy and I think anything that makes me clear-headed and relaxed needs to be in my life.

The majority of my fitness regimen is made up of hiking, running, and body weight HIIT workouts. They are sweaty, heart-pumping, wind-sucking forms of exercise so yoga feels foreign to me. It’s so much more controlled, and still and uncomfortable. And I’m okay with that. It means I have room to grow…right?

I took my first yoga class in about 5 years last week at my gym. I loved how I felt mentally but I didn’t get that post-workout I-just-got-my-butt-kicked feeling that I crave. But I think that adding some balance and flexibility to my regimen will probably make me perform better in other areas. I’m planning to go to yoga at least once each week this month to see if I improve. I’m also considering trying out a studio that offers different types of classes rather than a one-size-fits-all class at my gym.

In addition to yoga, there are other “cool in my head” things I want to try over the coming months. Stand Up Paddle Boarding, the 52 Hike Challenge and the Six Pack of Peaks Challenge, which I’m hoping will lead to climbing Mt. Whitney, a mud run or Spartan Race, and Zumba. Well, Zumba isn’t really cool in my head, it’s just that my gym offers it and I don’t want to do it at all, but I feel like I should try it because it makes me uncomfortable. And this is all about getting out of my comfort zone. Unless it’s drinking tea. No thank you.

What’s up next

Week 10 – December 13 – 19 – FREEBIE. I decided that this week is going to be about creating holiday memories with my family. It’s been a tough week here in the Davis household with our 3-year old Grinch. My plan is to hypnotize him into a state of holiday cheer with Christmas lights and cocoa.

Week 11 – December 20 – 26 – Don’t complain about anything for an entire week. I’m going to be focusing on kindness and compassion, having patience and being cheerful. See aforementioned Grinch.

Week 12 – December 27 – January 2 – Start the 52 Hike ChallengeHoly moly. I can’t believe the new year is just around the corner and I’ll be upping my commitment to health and fitness with a whole lot of hiking.



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