People often tell I’m disciplined or that they don’t understand how I can get myself to work out so much. Well, I’m here to tell you, it’s because it’s worth it. The older I’ve gotten, the more excercise has gone from punishment and obligation to rewarding, healthy and relaxing. It’s a big part of being “fitfluential” if you ask me! But, I really believe that being “fitfluential” has a lot to do with a balanced, joyous life mentally, physically, and spiritually. That’s what I’ve based my 7 steps on!

1. Exercise (In the morning, if possible!)  
Do you really think it’s easy for me to roll out of bed and into my running shoes at 5:20 am.? No. freakin. way. First, I roll around for a minute, making a weird moaning noise that translates into: “Don’t make me get up.” Then, I have all kinds of hateful and discouraging thoughts like, you can skip today, you can do it after work, sleep is really important, why can’t I just be naturally skinny? Right, right, right. Shut up!

In the span of a few minutes, I’m up, splashing water on my face, brushing my teeth, changing into my work out clothes and finally beginning to feel human. After ten minutes, you won’t believe the sleeping, moaning beast you were just recently. Shake it off! Once you start a slow jog or a little heavy breathing into your workout, the endorphins kick and all your awesome, take-on-the day thoughts are generated. It’s totally worth it!

Tweet from today at 5:20 a.m.: 

Tweet from today at 7:30 a.m.: 

2. Pack & plan healthy food!

I’ve been a “take your lunch to work” girl for a long time. Eating out is so rare for me that when I do it, I’m overwhelmed by the choice of restaurant or meal to order! I keep my fridge stocked with simple, easy foods like carrot sticks, raw almonds, healthy granola bars, pre-sliced grapefruit, personal size yogurts, apples, and more.

Hello there, spinach salad! I planned you!

I make my salads and sandwiches the night before and can usually just grab my lunch of out the fridge. Don’t make the mistake of packing too little. If you worked out this morning, you kind of need a lot of food to get through until 6pm (if you’re me!). Don’t get stuck with nothing and be cast away to the vending machine where you will no doubt choose peanut m&ms over whatever possibly semi-healthy choice there might be!

3. Listen to uplifting music. 

This is a biggie. Are you one of those people that can hear a song and kinda sorta feel like you’ve been transported onto your own personal movie set? Well, I am and music has a powerful effect over my mood. For me, listening to inspirational Christian music is always a good start to my morning. Not everyone is a Christian, so find whatever music is positive and uplifting for you.

To be honest, I NEVER want to listen to that music by choice. I hear the voice saying to turn it on because it will fill my head with all kinds of positive vibes but half the time I don’t. When I do, though, my day takes a turn for the better. Surround yourself by positivity. This is one I like to listen to when heading into DC. It makes me think about others, God’s love and the more important things of life:

4. Get Social!

One of the biggest factors to fullfillment and joy in my life is found within the relationships I keep up with in life. There were years in my life when I lacked in social skills, had few friends and really struggled in groups or new activities. In the past few years, I’ve overcome a lot of anxieties and now love meeting new people and trying new things. My online relationships — through tweeting, blogging, commenting, emailing and Facebooking — are a big component of this as well. There are various levels to my “social life” online and offline: everything from occasional Tweets from friends in my #Fitfluential community to keeping up with my friend Megan’s life back in Indiana through her blog about her family.

Outside of the online community, I make my friends a priority and this contributes to my happiness. Michelle lives 45 minutes from me but both of us make getting together a priority because that relationship is important to us. In a different way, I  really enjoy the folks I see during Back on My Feet running days. I don’t see them often, or know them well, but the energy and goodness I get back from them is irreplacable on say, a gloomy Monday morning. I also love my monthly book club — where I catch up with the girls and we talk about what we love most — books! Having a variety of social groups and possibilities makes me happy and mentally fitfluential!

I get by with a little help from my friends 🙂
5. Vitamins & Water!

Each day, I take a multi-vitamin, a Vitamin D-3, and a fish oil tablet.  I also try to drink an Emergen-C several times a week and drink a ton of water. I don’t really love drinking water (and I’d rather not mess with flavor enhancers usually) so I literally chug several times a day. I chug a glass when I get up, chug several after a work out and take frequent breaks at work to chug as well. I’ve been adding chia seeds to random meals (heard they were good for ya?!) and trying to sneak spinach and kale as much as humanly possible as well.

Also, I chug a mini V-8. Do I like all this chugging? Not really. However, I know that upping my water consumption has caused my digestive system to work much better, has given me more energy, helped me sleep better at night and helped in curbing an overzealous appetite. If you have a doubt, a question, a wonder about anything in the world — first step? Chug!

6. Ritualize

My rituals make me happy. I LOVE getting in a good workout and then having time to sip my coffee and play on the computer for a little bit before work. Nothing tops the feeling of this peaceful way to start the day. I make my coffee, add a little milk, a little creamer, a Stevia, heat it up for 45 seconds and drink it slowly. Ahh. On my commute, I always have a book on hand and really enjoy the hour I spend reading on the way to work.

Then, once I’m at work, I always go straight to the kitchen, chug a glass of water, get another one and a cup of coffee, head to my desk and eat 2nd small breakfast with my coffee. At night, I come home and immediately put on my comfy clothes. I love the ritual of taking off my make up, moisturizing my face, brushing my teeth, and using Listerine. I make my lunch so it’s ready for the next day, put on a comfy pair of socks, grab my favorite pillow and relax until I get tired, read and fall asleep with my book in hand.

This is a new ritual: When I go to a new place, I like to find a Turkey Trot or a 5k or 10k or some kind to run while I’m there. What a better way to see the city. There are rituals big and small, find the ones that make you happy!

We found a race to do while visiting Myrtle Beach last year!

7. Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff

Do I always succeed at this one? No way. But, I have learned — after years of praying and trying and hoping — that it’s best. I only need to watch people with road rage to get myself back on track. People get so irrationally, insanely mad when they have road rage. I personally think they look and sound ridiculous. Is it really worth getting your blood pressure up because someone cut you off? No! Is it worth putting negativity into the atmosphere because your Starbucks barista was rude to you? No! Should you let your day be ruined by a parking ticket or a disappointing response on a blog you wrote? Absolutely not!

Here’s the truth: I’ve got all this love in my family! And this is just the beginning.

I’ve read a lot of books about people in desperately difficult situations that chose to thank God for what they had, not what they didn’t. Remembering that the person next to you might be having a bad day for a good reason — and that’s why they were unfriendly — is a good mindset to have. As the quote goes, everyone is fighting a hard battle — why not try to make it a little easier for them? You won’t always see fruit in return or feel justified but at the end of the day, you’re full of something better than anger or bitterness. Let it go. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Embrace and be glad you have some love to spread around.

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