Tag Archives: happiness

outdoor activities, Jesus and how I survived a whole30

I miss writing to you all. This morning, I had the urge to get a giant cup of coffee and sit down with you and let you know how I have been the past few weeks since we’ve spoken.

So hello, let’s chat. I’ll start with my updates then we’ll talk about you, yes?

I have been wonderful. I spent the majority of April focused on me, on food and on feeling great.  I did my best effort to spend time outdoors every day possible, taking long walks around downtown at lunch and discovering new scenery. I went to church and volunteered with our Youth, spent some time doing a lot of dishes at Pine Cove for a weekend with said youth and will be an official member of Munger Place this Sunday. Yay! I also spent a lot of time at Sprouts Farmers Markets and doing my own dishes. Oh, and I did a small challenge – I completed a Whole30. What is a Whole30? Glad you asked.

For 30 days, I abstained from eating any sugar, all alcohol, all grains and all dairy. This is a very strict 30-day protocol created by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig and introduced to me by one of my friend-workers Kylie. Whole30  is based off the Hartwigs’ Whole9 lifestyle, in which good, clean, quality food is the #1 priority. I experimented with new vegetables (hello, cabbage. nice to meet you, beets) and substantially increased my meat consumption. I ordered very specific menu items at work lunches and watched with envy as coworkers sipped delicious, sweet red wine. I instagrammed a lot of photos of food and felt very proud of myself for making them in my own kitchen.

I could write for days about this program, refute your arguments and answer your questions. To make it as simple as possible I’ll break it down into this:

What I Think Is Awesome About Me After Doing A Whole30

  1. My internal monologue is much more positive with myself. I find my mood and energy to be fairly even-keeled. What do I mean? Well, I don’t want to rip anyone’s head off and I don’t want to take a nap at my desk. I could run a few blocks easily and I don’t get super tired when I’m at Zumba or Kickboxing.
  2. I am not scared of calories or fat and I am not logging a single bite of food ever again. Mentally or literally. Here is where I confess: since I was 12, I have (in one way or another) logged my food intake. Did I think that was crazy? Well, if you asked me two months ago I would have told you no. If you ask me right now, I say HOLY HELL YES THAT IS INSANE. Logging every morsel of food or drink is a quick jog into crazy person territory.
  3. I am proud of my discipline – not just with food and cooking, but this way of intentional eating has opened my mind to realize that I am a big fan of what I like to call intentional living. I made a list of things titled “I want to do the things I say I want to do” that includes simple things like brush my teeth for 2 minutes and stretch every morning. I realized that taking the 2 to 15-minutes to do said things makes my life so much easier than not doing them. Same for cooking good, quality food.
  4. I did not cheat or slip or accidentally eat a bowl of ice cream once. Not once.
  5. Can I boast for a second? 30 days of saying “no I’m fine”, “no club soda is good”, “it’s really not that hard”, “thanks but it’s not that big of a deal” led me to today, day 31 where I can say: I feel fantastic and I kicked ass. I spent thirty days – 720 hours – doing something I said I was going to do. Clarification: ENJOYING myself because I was doing something I said I was going to do.
  6. I lost 5 pounds, 2.5 inches from my waist and 1 inch from my legs. This, while awesome, was not the goal – and is last on the list for a reason. If I had lost nothing at all, I’d still  be as proud of me as I am. Though in the spirit of transparency  I danced a happy dance around my house this morning after measuring.

What I Heard The Most From My People:

  1. “I could never do that. I love cheese/bread/wine/not worrying about food and it’s too much work/too hard to quit. How do you have time?”
  2. “I can’t believe you’re not drinking for a month, that is so boring.”
  3. “Wait, you weren’t drinking last night? I thought you were! You were so fun!”
  4. “I hate coconut. I don’t like green vegetables. I don’t eat meat. Etc.”
  5. “I don’t want to be obsessed with food. Aren’t you getting obsessed?”
  6. “Are you going to quit eating like this?”

What I Responded to Said People:

  1. Can’t never could. This is not hard – there is a blog post on the Whole9 site about how beating cancer is hard or rehab from a serious injury is hard, but choosing to eat better foods than you usually eat is not hard. Is it time consuming? A little, at first. By week 2, I was already familiar enough to wing it at the grocery store. Meal planning becomes a quick thing when you know specifically the foods you can eat (and see my links below for where I figured out the best recipes). As for the I love [insert food here] – well, yes so do I but 30 days in the span of a lifetime is a blip on the radar. As for the “too much work” – in my words: grow up, Peter Pan. In a more eloquent statement: nothing great ever came out of a half-assed life.
  2. If you require alcohol to be a social person and/or to be your friend, you should reconsider your own relationship with alcohol. Don’t get me wrong – I am a big fan of red wine, prosecco and craft beer but if one of these items is the basis of your social life, you should probably take a big internal look. OK, off soapbox.
  3. See above. Also, duh I am hilarious and fun to be around. I don’t need a beer to suddenly morph into a fun person.
  4. To these people I say, how many different ways have you tried that item? Did you try it sauteed? What about raw? Did you try it in a salad or with another item? I don’t love cabbage, but I do love sauerkraut. I don’t love cooked mushrooms (mostly) but give me a handful raw and I’ll eat them all day. Part of this 30 days is about learning to adapt. Try something new!
  5. No, I am not obsessed and you shouldn’t be either. Yes, I had to pay much more attention to what went in my mouth for 30 days; however, obsessed wouldn’t be the word. In fact, about 10 days in I realized it was all second nature and I was less focused on food, calories or weight than I had been in years. Food is more than just things we eat and I don’t think eating should  be a passive activity. I love food. I love to cook, watch cooking shows and I love to eat. I realize not everyone feels this way about food but I do think everyone should think about what they’re putting into their system before they put it in there. You don’t just throw oil at your car’s hood and hope it gets in the right places, right? You wouldn’t expect your car to work if you didn’t put the right kind of gasoline in the correct place. Same principle.
  6. Am I going to quit eating fulfilling, whole foods? No. Am I going to add back in some things like Pad Thai or Prosecco? Yes. I am going to shoot for an 80 percent Paleo diet, meaning the food I cook for myself (which is approximately 4-5 nights a week, with leftovers for lunch) will remain primarily meat, vegetable and healthy fats. If I am out to dinner with friends, at a family cookout or just feel like some cake I will have it. I do plan on following the reintroduction protocol to gauge my body’s reactions to dairy, grains and sugar separately.

Look, here’s the thing. I don’t think this is for everyone and I have no intention of pushing my choices off on family and friends. I think you should always decide for yourself the best way you can live and stick with that. Would I recommend looking into something like clean eating, Paleo or Whole30? Yes, yes and yes. The changes in energy, mood, skin, hair and general well-being are enough but if you also are looking into losing some weight you’ll be satisfied all the way around. Plus, it’s always good to pay attention to yourself for a little bit. These 30 days have shown me things (unrelated to food) about myself including willpower, desire and more.

What we eat shouldn’t always be the focus, but how we eat, with who we eat and when we choose to eat are relevant. Eating is more than food, it’s part of our social and cultural makeup. Food shows love and thought –  sharing a meal is intimate, baking a cake for a neighbor is kind. Take some time to digest (yes) how you’re going about an activity you do 3-5 times a day, everyday.

This is much longer than anticipated but I had a lot to say. I told you I’d go first then listen to you all – so talk to me. How are you? How was your month of April? I’d love to know what you learned.

Talk soon.



Some helpful links if you’d like to know more about Whole30, Whole9 and changing habits:

  • Start here for more information on the philosophy from the Hartwigs
  • Find the book here on Amazon
  • I found recipes and inspirations for my own recipes here, here, here and here.
  • I found overall encouragement and hilarity with this blog.
  • Prefer hard science? I do, too. Here is an article on your gut as your ‘second brain
  • I distracted myself when the cravings were annoying by reading non-food related material. Seth Godin’s insight rules and my friend Kathleen inspires me to be a little more feminine/to paint my nails every time I read her posts.


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day seventeen: waiting on inspiration

Lately, I’ve been reading or hearing or been getting divinely interventioned on the importance of actually doing something about achieving your dreams.

One of my favorite people I’ve ever heard speak wrote a whole book about what Love Does. And he points out repeatedly no matter what the end action is, love does things. It doesn’t wistfully long for something, it doesn’t complain about circumstance, it doesn’t wait for something to come. (He also pointed out good writers don’t use the word “that”, so if you’ll notice the past few days I’ve CTRL+F before I post and remove all “that” words. Thanks, Bob!)

My point is your dreams are a lot like love, in the way of action. Because at the end of the day you have to love what you want enough to do something about it. But sometimes your own brain gets in your own way. Do you all notice a theme yet in these 31 days of patience? There’s a few items to note mainly don’t get in your own (or God’s) way and also chill out and ride the wave.

So – sometimes when you need to wait, when you rely on endurance and perseverance – it’s when you can’t find the words to say or the song to sing. I’m writing this tonight because I couldn’t think of what to write tonight. I’m sure plenty of artists out there struggle on days where it’s hard to find the words. Waiting on inspiration takes more patience than other circumstances, in my opinion. When you want so badly to do those things you’re called to do, you want to do it as soon as you can. Sometimes, it takes some dips in the road, though, to find inspiration to do it correctly.

So wait on inspiration. In the meantime, say some prayers of gratitude. No – they aren’t correlated, I’m just of the utmost belief gratitude cultivates happiness.

See you tomorrow.


Today is day seventeen in my 31 days of patience series. For all posts in the series,click here.

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the work day

Raise your hand if you love to work!

Riiiiight. If you’re reading this and you’re in the age range of 18-25, I am going to assume your hands never left your mouse and/or iPhone screen on that question. If they did, please leave a comment explaining yourself.

The thing is, very rarely do you hop out of college and onto the glamour train of work. Sorry, Lauren Conrad, your life was rigged. This is not to say that I do not enjoy my job – I do, very much! I am in a company that rules, part of a few committees at work I enjoy and my day to day tasks are not (often) menial or annoying; however, my paycheck and stress are a bit misaligned. Willing to bet every person I know would agree with that statement.

So how do you enjoy your current state, if it’s miles away from your goals?

Drink some coffee every morning and put a smile on.

Get off your butt and move around as much as possible. I know this sounds trite, because every “enjoy your life, here’s some tips!” list includes exercise and/or movement but it’s worth repeating. Not only will it help you lose the pounds you’ve put on since starting your cubicle life (thanks, snack room), it will likely prevent office butt.

Try to find a new lesson in everyday, even if it involves re-learning that Sharpies are different than Expo markers on white boards.

Make office friends. Staff meetings are funnier if you can text each other jokes, Imgur is more fun when shared with a friend and who knows – mutual bonding over cat videos could lead to real life friends! (and Lord knows, those are hard to find).

Don’t lose sight of your real dreams, just don’t watch those dreams on company time. Remember your goals – go back to your 10-, 17-, or 19 year old self and consider what she wanted. I include 10 year old self, because 10 year old dreams’ are the greatest because they are not cynical or jaded. No, little Chelsie, our Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader dream didn’t work out.

Finally, get real with yourself. Are you unhappy, really, or are you just bored? Prior to office living, your life refreshed every semester or so and now – it doesn’t. But just because you don’t get three weeks to go home and raid your parents pantry and catch up with your high school friends after finals doesn’t mean you can’t take a break, a vacation or make a change. Create a list! What would make you happy? I want to learn how to bake bread. I also always say I’m going to become a runner. One of those two things will happen in the next month (betcha can guess which one).

That’s the key to happiness I decided: you can’t wish, pray, hope, buy or beg for it. You have to create it. Your “it” is likely different than every else’s “it” – but decide what it is, then go do it.

Final word of advice: wake up at your first alarm. Don’t hit the snooze button. Try it for a week, your life will change.



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the last month


I just went back and read my blog through December 2010 – it’s funny to read each month’s post because I can remember exactly my state of mind, my location, my mood. I re-read in order to gain perspective on what goals worked best – what goals I stuck with, which ones created a better sense of happiness.

Happiness isn’t something you can create alone. I know many people say it’s how you think, what you say, that makes you happy — and to some degree, that is true. And, it’s no one else’s responsibility but your own to figure out how you can stay in happiness. But I don’t think you get to be happy all the time, and you don’t get to be happy just because one day you decide to be happy.

Throughout the past 11 months, I’ve realized that while budgeting, cleaning, exercising, laughing, singing in the morning and forgiving people have contributed to my happiness, you can’t always control it – sometimes you’re in winter and sometimes you’re in summer. You’ve gotta go through it all in order to see how you can cling to hope in the middle of anything.

For this last month, I’ve picked the goals that seemed to have the most direct impact on how I felt daily. I plan on carrying these into every month of 2012 – although I don’t plan on blogging about it or creating new ones every month.

My 2012 resolution is going to surprise you all — and probably 1/2 of you won’t believe I can do it. But we’ll get to that in January. For now:

1. Clean
When I kept things tidy and clean, so much stress was alleviated. You don’t realize how much dirty dishes or a messy closet subconsciously bothers you until you don’t have either for an extended period of time. There’s an invisible strain lifted off your to-do list and you realize…..ohhh thats why there’s so many blogs dedicated to decluttering your life. I plan to vaccum on Mondays, dust on Tuesdays, clean the bathroom on Wednesdays, the kitchen on Thursdays and use the weekend to make sure my clothes are clean and put away. I also need to clean out some junk drawers( +cabinets, +shelves) at some point.

2. Body
No brainer, but boot camp month was the best I’ve felt/looked in awhile. Working out 4x a week seems like too much, but after doing it for four straight weeks I realized how much you can actually accomplish from 5 am to 6 pm. It’s unreal and it feels so great — I was not only exercising well, I had more energy and drive for everything. I’m going back to 4x a week workouts (I’m joining a gym on Monday), and keeping a food journal. I also will not use a snooze button the entire month of December (I swear, this was the best goal I had all year).

3. Mind
Positive self-talk is still a priority and something I work on daily – as well as praying and being cognizant of my surroundings. I will continue working on my gratitude journal daily, as well as noting my prayers. I’m also going to participate in linking up to Tuesdays Unwrapped posts from my other blog.

4. Budget
…wah wah. Same as the clutter/clean bit. You never realize the worry you have about money until you don’t worry any longer. I need to save more and stop just freely spending. I wish my bank account supported that lifestyle, but sadly it doesn’t. I will start making my direct moves into savings when my check hits, and I’ll start paying attention to my budgeting app that kindly sends me alerts that I have not read since September….oops.

As for November’s goals – I think I did well. I finished my last gratitude letter tonight and they’ll all be in the mailbox in the morning. The USPS better never go under, there’s nothing that makes me happier than getting mail.

Happy last month of 2011. How was your year? Do you feel happier than you did in December 2010? I can promise you I do, by leaps and bounds. So thank you to those of you reading this who stuck with me.



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the ninth month

Well, that was fast.

August went by quickly and possibly because I was trying to be light-hearted. Some things occurred to me: when I’m trying to be light-hearted, apparently I spend more money. Being lighthearted often means neglecting chores. AND life’s a lot of fun when you laugh.

Such is life.

I laughed a lot more, I spent time with friends, I was fairly blase about doing things like cleaning my house — but I had an afternoon at a pool, or an evening with a boy listening to live jazz and eating delicious food. Lightened up.

September’s goals are to focus on good. I feel like “find the good” has been the overriding theme of the past 9 months as well, but this one is supremely focused.

I am going to write down one beautiful thing per day. I am going to stay in touch — a lot of friends are scattered, NYC, Kansas City, Chicago — and I think staying in touch with them is good. I am going to forget about results and just do things because they’re good for me (exercise, is one of those “forget about results” categories). I’m going to spend as much time as possible outdoors/in nature.

It’s BEAUTIFUL outside. I’m sitting on my tiny porch and my windows are all open and I’m about to clean my house. I can’t believe it’s only 79 degrees.

Thank you thank you thank you Jesus for Fall weather.



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the big in the small

Sometimes I forget that not everything that is great will always look great.

What I mean is, life sometimes isn’t pretty flowers and sepia tones and fancy dinners and the words you want to hear. Lately, especially this summer, I found myself noticing that while everything doesn’t look perfect or wonderful everything is better than it was two months ago.

I still have days where I wake up late or forget my lunch or forget my brain. I have days where I would prefer to not work out, or  even to work. But more than those days are the ones where I’m excited to see what I accomplish in an 8 hour time frame. There’s days that I relish in my routine, I thrive on the hour blocks of time. There are days when I walk to work, downtown, and it’s sunny and there’s cars honking and I feel so incredibly lucky. Here’s the thing, here’s the big in the small — those are the same days. It’s just what you choose to see.

Reality is hard, but reality is constant. That’s what makes it so great. Look, if you thought everyday was going to be butterflies and rainbows and it was — what would you expect the next day? I figured out something really quick: the best parts of life are those that you notice, expected or unexpected.

So open your eyes a little, everyday. And one day you realize that there is SO MUCH to notice even in the “bad.” Part of August’s “lighten up” goals was to smile more and to get back into routine and I’ve tried my best to do both of those. I’m getting help from some good people in my life on the smiling more part and the routine part is going just as well.

There’s one more big thing I’ve realized lately and I think it’s my second hard truth about myself.

I will never be scared of being too happy.

Some people find happiness and then get scared, they think it’s fragile, it’s fleeting or it’s too good to be true. Those people don’t ever live. The truth is, I had a hard year. A long year. A not-what-I-wanted year. And now I feel like I’m in a good place, a getting-what-I’ve-hoped-for place, a new start place.

And if that type of year comes back, guess what? I know that I’ll get through it again. So the lesson, the truth, the glory that comes out of hardship? I will never be scared of being happy.

And I am. I am happy.

I am so thrilled to feel like myself again.



PS: I found a new blog that combines two of my great loves, lists & self-improvement so naturally, I’m sharing. For those of you who seem to be stuck in a bad place or seem to be ignoring all the signs that you should stop doing what you’re doing in order to get happy — check out this list.

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the sixth month

It is the second night of the 6th month of this project and I am just now sitting down to write out my post. First of all, I made it to the halfway point! What a wonderful treat. As a refresher, I created a 12-month plan to create more happiness in my life based on Gretchen Rubin’s best-selling novel, The Happiness Project. I like to think this project has given me peace when I needed it but mostly has made me aware of the impact my own choices have on my life. Happiness is relative, after all, and that may very well be the biggest lesson I learn.

Speaking of awareness, let’s get into the goals for June.

I think the one lesson I have learned is that there is no substitute for paying attention.  (Diane Sawyer)

The focus for the month of June is mindfulness. When I was digging back through the Happiness Project blog and my notes, I decided to search Twitter for “mindfulness”….this is a remnant from the day spent as an intern searching media coverage, but hey it worked. There are SO MANY tweets, blogs, quotes, programs, studios and bullet-pointed lists dedicated to the art of mindfulness. And when I say mindfulness in this sense, I’m speaking of the very broad category. There are sub-sections of mindfulness, where you focus on your body (yoga, what you eat) or your mind (meditation, prayer) or your reputation (awareness of relational situations) or any other situation in which a clear mind and sharp focus will increase your positive results or feedback.

Some websites even talked about scientific breakthroughs related to mindfulness, specifically the act of meditation. There is some proof that what is called Mindful-Based Cognitive Therapy is effective at treating depression and speeding healing time of major injuries. (This is the first month that my project seems to be backed by data and evidence – go me!) I tell you all of this to tell you that I am so thankful to remember, monthly, that I am not the only person in the world who struggles to notice and appreciate and take inventory on my life. Let’s pay attention in June:

1. keep a food diary
-well, it will begin on June 3rd considering today and yesterday were sort of glazed over. I’ll keep it as long as possible but at least until July 3rd (Promise!!). Studies have proven that if you write down your food intake, you will likely cut fatty foods or overeating out of your diet. And if nothing else, you’ll be aware of the bad stuff you’re eating! Being mindful of my choices will result in better ones daily.

2. identify my true rules
-this one is a little more complicated to explain, but basically, we all operate under concrete (subconscious) decisions daily. in June, I am going to attempt to identify (see: find a root cause) for my gut instincts. Sounds hard, huh? It’s not, once you think about it. For example, one of my true rules is SHOW UP. No matter what, if I have an obligation (verbal, written, strict, flexible, to people I like, to people I’ve never met, to someone who doesn’t care), I promise I will show up for them in at least some small way. I operate under more truths than just show up, but I’ll let you know the rest in July. 🙂

3. use my mind in a new way
-I took some time to think about this, and I can’t come up with a creative but not totally time-consuming new hobby that will use my mind in a new way. I will work on this throughout the weekend. In the meantime, if you have an idea for a new mind-enhancing hobby (puzzle, game, thinker-type project), please leave a comment and let me know: how do you use your mind?

4. meet deadlines
-as a new intern at a new job, this one is a no-brainer but I also mean in my personal life as well. I’ve noticed that working 8-5 has created some sort of procrastination Chelsie when it comes to housework or self-work (ahem, working out). Deadlines are deadlines and that includes everything from working out 4x a week to turning a project in on time.

June seems big, doesn’t it? This is a big month for the project. May was a little bit of a sidenote with this, considering all the changes, graduations, parties, etc. going on. I’m excited to dive into my new life — I have a new city, new home, new job, new friends and I think paying attention is going to be a great way to spend the first month here.

I am going to be mindful of my prayers and inner dialogue throughout the day. I figured this out in March with the goal of living with intention, but when I feel spiritually connected and in-touch, my day seems to have a calmer edge around the ups and downs.

If you’re reading this, whether it’s your first time or you’re a regular, please give me some feedback. It’s my halfway point, and while this is entirely for myself, I do like to know what you think or how you feel. I don’t want to lose steam and a little encouragement or at least acknowledgement of you faceless numbers that show up on my Stats page would be wonderful. How do you pay attention? How do you stay mindful?

I’m so grateful it’s summertime.



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