An American in Paris: Day 2

Lizzie does Paris

Saturday, December 30th, 2017

Travel Journal Continued…

“I woke up way too late today. Jet lag hit me harder than I was hoping. I slept till almost 10am and the whole morning was wasted. However…I feel very well rested, so maybe it was for the best.

Paris weather is a lot like Florida’s. It can’t decide if it wants to rain or shine. Right now…it’s landed somewhere between the two.

Lizzie Does Paris - stopping by the Louvre

I stopped by the Louvre this morning, on my way to pick up my Paris Museum Pass and got some exterior pictures. How funny to be able to say “I stopped by the Louvre this morning.” Like that’s something so casually done by little old me. I found myself to be completely enchanted with the whole landscape of the grounds at the Louvre. I know the pyramids were traditionally frowned upon as not reflective of the architecture usually found in Paris, and while that’s probably true…they are truly magnificent to behold. As I saw them from afar, my heart started to race and the closer I got the more I knew that Paris was exactly where I belonged!!

My cousin Sterling and her husband, Wes, got me my pass for Christmas! Instead of a 4-day pass, I got 2 2-day passes. Because of the way New Year’s Day falls in the middle of my trip, I didn’t have 4 consecutive days to work with and I didn’t want to lose a whole day! It was a little more than just a 4-day, but I think it will end up being worth it!!

Lizzie Does Paris - Paris Museum Pass
Thank you, Sterling and Wes for this little gem!! It made all the difference in the world!

While searching the city for my Paris Museum Pass, (I purchased one online and had to pick it up…somewhere) I found myself a tad lost. Luckily, there were plenty of times where I’d let myself get “lost” in New York City when I lived there. The thing about big cities, for me, is they are surprisingly easy to navigate. So even getting “lost” doesn’t really mean being lost. Not when you have a map in your hand.

In the midst of my morning wandering, I found a little cafe where I could get my bearings and sit a while. From the moment I walked through the door, this gorgeous French cat made eyes with me and found in me a kindred friend. I sat down at a table by the window which was invitation enough for her (I’m assuming it was a girl cat, she was so pretty) to come join me. She hopped up on the chair next to me and kept me company as I looked at my map and reoriented myself for my day’s adventure.

She reminded me a little of my cat at home, Tom Hanks, and she kept me company at a moment when I most needed a friendly face! I’ve named her “Fille Française Hanks” which translates to French Girl Hanks! Here she is…

Lizzie does Paris - new French friend

I have to make a confession to make. Before the Louvre and before finding the cafe where Fille Française Hanks lives, I stopped in at a Starbucks. I was in desperate need of caffeine and was walking in circles, when lo and behold…there was Starbucks like a shining beacon of just what I needed! So I went ahead and did it and you know what…I couldn’t even feel bad about it if I wanted to because it was just what I needed, right when I need it! And one should never feel bad about tiny, personal miracles!

I’m starting the day’s adventures off at Musêe D’Orsay. It’s the museum I’ve been most excited to visit. It has my beloved Impressionists.

Lizzie does Paris - Musée D'Orsay

Lizzie Does Paris - Musée D'Orsay

I finally made it to D’Orsay, with my Starbucks tea in hand! My many trips to Disney World have well prepared me for waiting in seemingly terminable long lines. And the line at D’Orsay was at least an hour and a half wait if not more. But I had Spotify to keep me company. And with the right music playing, lines just don’t seem that long. I wish others could appreciate and try this little trick. I heard lots of complaining about the line happening in this line before I turned my volume up and tuned the negativity out. If everyone had a soundtrack playing as they waited, maybe they’d feel like they were in their own little musical. That’s how I feel! My biggest struggle right now, in this moment, is not breaking out into song! I’ve been listening to The Greatest Showman soundtrack all day and it is putting me in the very best mood!!!

Lizzie Does Paris - Musée D'Orsay

The entirety of D’Orsay was just as breathtaking as I imagined it to be…more so, even!”

Interjection: What follows is a noting of a lot of (not all, I chose a handful because the list ended up being more intensive than I anticipated, but I love art THAT much) the paintings that caught my eye in Musée D’Orsay. Here are some:

La Rue Montorgueil by Monet

Lizzie Does Paris - Claude Monet
“Reminds me of a scene straight out of Les Miserables.”

Chemin montant dans le hautes herbes by Renoir

Lizzie does Paris - Renoir
“There are these generous touches of yellow sprinkled throughout that I’m sure he wants us to linger on. It’s where I find my eye landing every time I look at it.”

Régates à Argenteuil by Monet

Lizzie does Paris - Monet
“The boats themselves are gorgeous as they float atop the water, but it’s their reflection in the water, the movement of the ripples that I find most catching.”

One thing I discovered about myself is that I have no time for portraits. They are just not for me. I’d much rather get lost in an impressionist’s landscape or a gorgeously painted vase of flowers than some 17th century face. To each her own, and for me…the portraits were skipped over really quickly!

Vase de piroines sur piédouche by Manet

Lizzie does Paris - Manet

Le Bassin aux nymphéas, harmonic verte by Monet

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“This is quickly becoming my favorite Monet. Something rather shocking to me. Waterlillies has long been considered my favorite. But here I am, looking at both and the bright cheery palette of this one is taking my breath away.”
Lizzie does Paris - Monet's Waterlillies
“Waterlillies is certainly magnificent. And I had no idea it was this big. But the duller tones of this one and the brighter shades used in Le Bassin are confusing me as to which one I’m responding to more. I thought for sure it would be Waterlillies. But as I allow my heart to lead me through the museum, it’s Le Bassin I want to return to. It’s Le Bassin I find I’d like to jump into.”

There was a special Degas exhibit happening at the museum while I was there. Despite my dislike of most portraits, there’s something in the faces Degas draws that captures tue beauty and I find myself drawn to.

La Repasseuse by Degas

Lizzie does Paris - Degas Exhibit
“I could never master drawing hands. Perhaps that’s why his impress me. They have such expression. He knows hands.”

Degas’ dance sculptures are simply breathtaking. The way he captures the body in motion!!!

Lizzie does Paris - Degas scupltures

I like his blue dressed dancers the most.

Lizzie does Paris - Degas' blue dancers

I couldn’t leave without seeing the Van Gogh exhibit!

La Nuit Etoilée by Van Gogh

Lizzie does Paris - Van Gogh's Le Nuit
“Starry Night has been my favorite Van Gogh for as long as I can remember. I’ve never seen it in person and still haven’t. But seeing La Nuit Etoilée in person, the way the stars jump off the canvas, the way the museum has lit it just right…I find myself jumping ship from Starry Night and wanting to own every postcard, print and recreation of this one. Much like with Waterlillies, I’m finding out what I truly love and what I’ve just loved from afar for all these years.”

I could go on and on about the different pieces of art that captured my attention. There were quite a few. I knew I loved impressionism, I always have. But I was surprised to discover an interest in the Neo-Impressionists as well, like Henri-Edmond Cross and Maximilien Luce and Théo van Rysselberghe, to name a few. As well as finding a particular interest in the works of Toulouse-Lautrec.


After leaving D’Orsay, (I had to finally tear myself away) I headed to L’Orangerie where I heard there are more Monets waiting for me.

I walked into the museum with no idea what was waiting for me behind door number one. But I managed to capture the look on my face as I walked into the room and beheld the majestic site of Monet’s Waterlillies in all their glory…

Lizzie Does Paris - Monet's Waterlillies

And yeah….that thing I said about Monet’s Le Bassin stealing my heart from Monet’s Waterlillies…I was WAY OFF!!! I didn’t know what I was talking about. Having only ever seen Monet’s Waterlillies in pictures I just couldn’t imagine what breath-taking magic awaited me here.

Lizzie does Paris - Monet's Waterlillies

The paintings cover entire walls. There’s a whole series of them and they wrap around you from room to room.

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Waterlillies are most definitely my favorite paintings of Monet’s if not of all Impressionists…EVER!

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Wow, wow, wow. I think I could sit in one of these rooms, just staring at these paintings for hours and hours. Probably long past closing time and one of those nice security guards would have to come remind me that I don’t in fact live in Monet’s painting.

Lizzie does Paris - Monet's Waterlillies

How hard would it be to get one to take home and put on my wall? They probably frown on trying that!

Lizzie does Paris - Monet's Waterlillies

With my hair painted these colors right now, with these greens and teals and blues, I feel as if I belong in a Monet painting myself. I feel just exactly like one of his Waterlillies!

So many thoughts went through my head as I beheld the magnificence of Waterlillies. It dwarfed all other exhibits in L’Orangerie. They had a whole exhibit on Dadaism which was fascinating. But Waterlillies capped this day off so well for me that I felt quite content rushing through the rest of the works available to see.

After tearing myself away from Waterlillies, I hit the gift shop and bought an obscenely long postcard of Waterlillies. Then, it was time for dinner.

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AND wine and dessert!! Don’t forget about my Paris rule…always wine and dessert!!!

Lizzie does Paris - new rule...always order wine

My first meal of the day, in fact. Walking around the city today, I definitely found myself too purpose minded to eat. I’ve been running on that one Starbucks, I had this morning, all day long. This is a rare occurrence for me.


Lizzie does Paris - Galeries Lafayette

As I was walking by the windows of Galeries Lafayette, after dinner, I heard the familiar sounds of the song “This is Me” from the soundtrack of The Greatest Showman. The soundtrack of my trip to Paris. The soundtrack of my heart right now! I’ve been listening to it so much and humming it as I walk along, I just thought my mind was playing tricks on me. But as I turned around I was faced with these beautiful window displays the Galeries Lafayette had of costumes and props from the movie.

Lizzie does Paris - The Greatest ShowmanLizzie does Paris - The Greatest Showman

Right there…waiting just for me. It cemented the lyrics as my anthem for 2018!!

“When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I’m meant to be, this is me
Look out ’cause here I come
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum
I’m not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me.”

You know what I’ve discovered…I don’t feel at all alone over here. Not just because this is a big city, full of people to see and interact with minute by minute. But also because I know so many people back home are watching for updates about my trip. That has added a level of fun that I didn’t expect to have. I mean, I love sharing my every day life with my online communities and interacting on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. But this trip…it certainly takes it to another level. Like they’re all here with me every minute.

Lizzie does Paris - journaling

I LOVE that feeling. It makes traveling by myself the farthest thing from lonely.

PS, I remembered to say Bon soir to my waiter tonight instead of idiotically muttering ‘Bonjour, Adios, Goodbye…Au Revoir.’ Good grief!! I’m trying…that’s something!”

An American in Paris: Day 1

Ok, now you know how I made it to Paris.

Lizzie does Paris

Friday, December 29th, 2017

But I’ll bet you’re wondering what I got up to when I finally made it over there.

Before I even left for Paris, I created a very tentative list of things I wanted to do, along with a vague outline of when I might cross each thing off my list. Traveling with a strict schedule is just not how I do things. I wanted to leave a lot of space to change my mind, add new things to the list and choose days I thought would be best for each item.

Here’s the Master List:

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I landed at Charles de Gaulle airport at about 1:30pm on Friday afternoon, December 29th. I opted to rely on wifi in places and turn my phone on airport mode to avoid roaming charges while in Paris. This meant that simple tools like my GPS and the internet were not available to me, except when I was in my hotel or at a cafe that had wifi. It also meant that I had to rely on my scrappy travel skills (of which I have many!)

An excerpt from my travel journal upon arriving in Paris after finding my way to my hotel:

“Finding my bearings in Paris makes me feel like it’s my first time in New York City all over again. There’s a feeling that I truly have no clue where I’m going or what I’m doing. I don’t speak this language and maybe I’ve been out of the big city game for too long.

But, there’s also the absolute knowledge and confidence that I am capable of mastering this. Flying solo can be a little scary initially, but also exciting and energizing! I’d forgotten that feeling. It’s not something I feel very often in Winter Park, Florida.

On the plane, I sat next to Max, a very kind, young guy, probably a bit younger than me in age if not in spirit. He gave me some recommendations and we shared laughs throughout the flight. I was reminded that there are new friends waiting around every corner, if you’re open enough to look for them. Brave enough to talk to them.”

Interjection: This was the start of a flood of writing that began the moment I landed in Paris and has not stopped since I’ve returned home! And I was certainly grateful to be reintroduced to the writer in me, all over again!

“My hotel, Libertel Gare du Nord Suede on Boulevard Magenta in the 10th Arrondissement, is so charming and tiny. It’s the absolute perfect size for me and my solo adventures! It’s cozy and has the right number of hangars for the Paris wardrobe I brought with me. More than just coincidence, I think!

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I laid down to take a quick 30 minute cat nap, here on Day 1 of my adventure, and woke up an hour and a half later than anticipated. Apparently my body had other plans. Once I finally woke up, I felt rested and ready to walk and see and EAT. Above all…EAT!!

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Interjection: I just sat down to my first dinner in Paris and I’m implementing a new rule…wine and dessert will be ordered at every meal! No exceptions!

My neighborhood is charming! I think I’ll be using that word a lot in Paris. There’s a lot to see. Plenty of hustle and bustle and I find it surprisingly easy to navigate, given the language barrier. As I took the opportunity to get the lay of the land in my Arrondissement, I passed my hotel 3 separate times without meaning to. I don’t think I’ll have any trouble finding my way around. It really does feel somehow like I’m back in New York, but maybe all big cities have this energy and I’ve just forgotten what it felt like.

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Also…I feel like I’ve found a familiar part of myself, long forgotten and abandoned.

Continue reading

Bon Appétit…Literally!!

One year ago, almost to the day, I gave up weighing myself. It was as much a gift to my mind as it was to my body. Contrary to what you might think, the devil does not live in the details. He lives in the numbers! Especially when it comes to a woman’s weight.

Lizzie does Paris - travel blog

And as vigilant as I try to be on a daily basis, when I was in Paris I said “Screw it!” This trip was about enjoyment and about celebration. Joy has no patience for calorie counting in a foreign country and a modern day fairytale of my own making.

So weights and scales and eating “right” was not on my radar at all. Imagine my surprise, when I weighed myself on a whim at my parent’s house, after returning from Paris and finding out I’d lost 5 pounds. How could this be? I ate foods that were heavy in cream and cheese. I ate a plentiful amount of bread every single day. And dessert? I had that after every single meal, not to mention a generous amount of wine to go with it.

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The way I ate in France was not indicative of someone who had lost weight. Sure, I’d averaged about 20,000 steps a day in Paris and that had to account for some of it. But believe me when I say, I ATE while I was over there. I assumed it would all even out. I never thought it would leave me with a pleasant amount of lost weight.

But here’s the secret…bon appétit, in French, means “enjoy your meal.” And that’s just what the French people do. Other European countries like Spain and Italy subscribe to this notion of enjoyment as well! Food is not something to be scarfed down as we run from thing to thing, never stopping to savor. It is literally meant to be enjoyed to the fullest.

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As I sat in a little cafe for dinner, my first night in Paris, I looked around and noticed people taking their time with their meals. Bills weren’t brought to rush people out. Waiters gave each table the space needed to truly savor the moments in between bites. And I absorbed this tempo immediately upon my arrival. I indulged in 3 course meals and stayed an extra 30, 40, 50 minutes sometimes. I read my book while I ate and I wrote in my journal. Every waiter knew at least 3 things about my life by the time my meal had ended and we parted ways better for having shared a little company.

I wish I could say this would continue in me forever! I know that it won’t. Because I do move from thing to thing with the frantic nature of an American dreamer. But…from now on, when I sit down to a true meal, I will truly strive to inject the French spirit of “bon appétit” into dinner time and breakfast and the occasional lunch (that happens to be the meal I most often rush through in order to get things done.)

I think that food eaten out of pure enjoyment and true contentment gets digested very differently than food consumed out of utter necessity or carelessness. I’m no scientist, I only know what my body tells me. And it told me quite a story when I returned home from Paris, down 5 pounds and feeling happier and lighter than I have in years.

Some things are meant to be felt with our hearts, to the tips of our fingers and our crafty, analytical little minds only manage to get in the way. Trust your body. Trust your instincts! And pick one meal this week and add an extra 30 minutes onto the time you spend with it. Eat out of pure joy and see if it makes a difference! Take a little France into your mealtimes…I brought some back just for you!

Lizzie does Paris - Lunch time

Bon Appétit!

Money Matters: How I got to Paris

Up until this very moment, this very day, even…if you asked me about money matters I would have told you: “Go ask someone else…I’m very bad at money.” And it would have been true. I have been bad at money my whole life. From the day I opened a Star Wars credit card when I first moved to New York City (the rewards earned were what one might expect from a Star Wars Mastercard), to the $10,000 I quickly racked up on it because…free money to the countless times I’ve overdrawn my checking account.

If you’re about to recommend Dave Ramsey’s books to me, don’t bother. I read them in college and again in New York and again and again and again. I have done his workbooks and always kept the concept of the “debt snowball” in the back of my mind. Sometimes I chant the words “gazelle-like intensity” to myself. But it’s one thing to read about something and another to apply it.

Flash forward to August of 2017. My Granny had just passed away and had left me with, what she called “squirrel money.” Basically, a sum of money that she’d been squirreling away just for me. It was a turning point for me, because I was being given a shot and I did not want to throw it away.

Some of the squirrel money went to debt. Some went to fun. Some went to savings and some…well, that went to a special travel savings account. Something I thought my Granny would appreciate me doing with the money she gave me. (The money I used on a tattoo was something she wouldn’t have approved of, but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do!)

My very first trip abroad was a trip to England with my Granny. When me, my brother and my cousin all turned 16, she made it her mission to get us abroad. That was her promise to us. And as the eldest grandchild, my trip was first.

She and I went on a group tour with a pastor she had known for years. He was preaching his way across London in Minsters, Abbeys, Churches, Cathedrals…and we were to join the bus tour accompanying him. It was my first taste of the travel bug. It was my first taste of another country. And from the moment I saw the chopping block and the crown jewels in the Tower of London, I was hooked on absorbing other places and their culture.

When I first entertained the idea of going to Paris, it was on a whim. One night, in the middle of the night, I was up and unable to sleep and I started searching the internet for whatever magical treasures I could find. Something I do often when I have bouts of insomnia. Etsy treasures, Pinterest ideas, cat videos on You Tube and then I wandered over to a flight search and randomly typed in “Paris.” It’s a place I’ve always dreamed of visiting.

Talk about finding treasures…I found a flight for $175, one way to Paris on Norwegian Airlines. And that night, I bought it. I thought to myself “Even if you don’t end up making it there, $175 is a bargain price for a big dream!”

I was still bad at money. But even being bad at money, I knew a $175 one way ticket was a good idea! I also knew that Paris was a city where I’d want to have money to spare for things like sight-seeing, eating and shopping. Enter, what I thought was going to be, an uphill battle.

I read an article on the The Penny Hoarder about ways to save and came across an app called Stash. It’s basically an easy way to set up a savings account with different low risk, or high risk if that’s your bag, stock options. You buy the stocks you want. They accumulate interest or lose it as the market dictates and then when you want your money back, you sell the stock and transfer the funds back into your bank account.

Savings accounts that I’ve used in the past have not worked for me, no matter how hard I’ve tried. And believe me, I’ve tried.

I tried the kind where it rounds up your spending and puts that rounded up sum into a savings account. But it’s linked to your checking, so when my balance got low it was very easy to transfer those extra monies right back into ground zero.

I tried an account that charged me every time I withdrew money prematurely…yeah, I lost a lot of stupid money that year on withdrawing money prematurely.

I tried an account with a completely different bank. But as with all my other attempts, I’d watch the number rise as I watched my checking dwindle and once again it was too easy to transfer it right back into the danger zone.

I tried and I tried and I tried. So I didn’t have high hopes that Stash would make a difference in the way I handled my savings. How would it be any different? Would I just end up abusing it the way I did every other savings account?

But something changed. I didn’t abuse it. In fact, I didn’t even touch it. I started out by transferring $5 every Friday into my Stash. A small enough amount that I could spare it. A big enough amount monthly that it would mean actually creating some savings. Gradually, as I realized this was working for me, I upped the ante to $10 a week, then $15 a week and finally $20 a week.

$20 a week is not a great amount of money. It’s modest at best. But for me, it was a king’s sum. From August to December, I faithfully added to my savings. When I had extra money come in, I’d add more.

I started teaching an Art Class for Preschoolers to make extra money, my side hustle, and I put part of that money in there too. Before I knew it, I had over $1000. I have NEVER had $1000 in a savings account. I’ve rarely seen that amount in my checking account, to be honest. All of a sudden I was like…

You guys…I had done it. I changed the narrative of my relationship to money.

Days before leaving for my big trip to Paris, a trip that now seemed much more of a triumph and a celebration than it did back in August when I’d initially made the decision to dream, I was recounting how  all this had come about to my father.

I told him about the article in the Penny Hoarder, about the app Stash, about my $1000, about how I actually accomplished what I never thought I could. And I finished with “And you know how bad I am at money, dad!” He looked at me, rather intently, and said “I don’t think you can say you’re bad at money anymore.”

woah…

Woah…

WOAH!!!

Wake up call! Have you ever really had a wake up call? Do you know this feeling?

It’s amazing!

It’s life changing!

It’s a miracle!!

Not only did I afford to fly myself to Paris, but I could afford to actually stay in Paris and do everything on my bucket list and eat a fancy French meal every night and fully immerse myself in the Paris I wanted to see most. And yes…even fly home from Paris.

I have a lot of blogs coming your way in the New Year about my experiences in Paris and other things like  travel tips, how to get great photos when traveling alone, all kinds of things that came to me when the flood gates of my love for writing were opened up again because of this trip.

But none of those posts will be as important as this one right here.

No matter who you were in 2017, no matter what you thought you couldn’t do or what you think is beyond your reach…it isn’t. You can do that thing. You can change your narrative, like I did.

Guys…I’m good at money now. I’m paying off debt and starting new enterprises. I don’t have a credit card anymore because I know that I can’t trust myself with one. I have a checking account for paying off bills and a checking account for my spending and the rest, well you know where that goes! Right into my Stash for safe keeping. And I’m going the extra mile and adding Acorns to my portfolio. Another app that will help with savings. It’s always a good idea to hedge your bets!

I don’t think I’ve ever truly been this proud of myself in my whole life and it’s a great feeling! The confidence I have in my abilities, the knowledge that all it takes to climb a mountain is the proper training and the right equipment! You want Everest…you can have it. You just have to do the work. You just have to show up for your dream!

What a way to start the New Year!!

Star Wars Book Camp: Week 2

Week 2 of Star Wars Boot Camp has begun! But before I give you a sneak peek into how Week 2 is going, let’s review Week 1, shall we!

Week 1 of Star Wars Boot Camp was all about the Dark Side, but specifically: Anakin Skywalker. Jedi Padawan and Dark Apprentice. The boy walks the line for sure! And while we find Anakin teetering between the Dark and Light for a lot of the prequel trilogy and know that ultimately his end game is redemption, I’m focusing on his Dark Side this week.

My goal for Week 1 was to work out 6 out of 7 days in the week…CHECK! As well as add on a couple extra workouts here and there…CHECK, CHECK! And as far as food goes, my goal was to normalize better eating habits such as choosing un-buttered popcorn, as a snack, over McDonald’s french fries…BIG CHECK! But because we’re dealing with the Sith in Week 1, it’s important to flirt with your temptations. So, I kept dark chocolate and red wine on my list of approved foods. That will follow me into Week 2, as I’m still firmly settled in with the Dark Side of the Force.

Another distinction about Sith Apprentice Week is that I worked only with what I had available to me. You Tube videos, free weights, runs outside and exercises that utilized my own body weight.

Here’s another look at my morning routine, which I accomplished 5 days of the week and on the 6th day, I swapped my routine out for a cleansing run around my neighborhood and some weights.

Week 1:

  • 1 min of each (3 reps)
    • Jumping Jacks
    • High Knees
    • Squats
    • Butt Kickers
    • Leg Lunges
    • Jog in Place
    • Crunches
    • High Kicks
    • Plank
    • Jump Rope

As we head into Week 2: Sith Lord Week, I have to be honest…I haven’t been as motivated and my early mornings have suffered from Snooze Button Syndrome!! But instead of getting mad at myself (something I do way too regularly) I am forgiving myself and taking the opportunity to give my body a little rest. Apparently, it needed it and when your body is screaming that it needs something and you don’t give it what it needs, eventually it will take it any way it can get it! Sometimes that manifests itself in the form of illness or injury. Which we don’t want!!

So…Monday, Day 1 of Week 2 was spent frolicking at Universal Studios with my friends Courtney and Courtney! We walked 20,000+ steps and ate delicious foods and I let myself enjoy it instead of being a stickler about my Dark Side meal plan. And while I’m happy with that decision it led to…

Tuesday, Day 2 of Week 2. I definitely slept through that alarm and while I ate really well throughout the day (WIN!) and had every intention of working out when I got home from work…I didn’t do that. I put my running shoes on, sat on my bed and then woke up an hour later. The sun was gone, the hour was late and I was groggy from an ill-timed nap. That’s not what I wanted to do. But it’s what happened. And no workout was had.

Which led to Wednesday, Day 3 of Week 2 and another alarm that I slept right on through…this trend was not boding well for my “jump back on the band wagon” state of mind. It was looking more and more like I’d fallen off the band wagon. But I will not let this morning madness deter my determination!

My goal this week is to get 5 workouts in and if I have to double up…I will.

That is the goal I’ve set. That is what will happen. And since I reached my goal in Week 1, I know that this is attainable! In fact, I’m simply building on to what I started doing in Week 1. My morning routine will remain the same with 1 min of each exercise, but instead of 3 reps, I’ll do 4.

If you want to keep up to date on my progress, come on over to my Instagram where I’m letting you in on my daily wins and also my daily losses! Basically the whole thought process through all 6 weeks of Star Wars Boot Camp are right there for you to engage with in my Insta Story!!

Here’s to clearing out the cobwebs and getting back on track!!!

Star Wars Boot Camp Redo

Star WArs boot Camp fitness series

Well, the best laid plans of mice and men…amiright?

The day I decided to start my brand new Boot Camp series was the day that we found out our friend Wally had died. After attempting to keep on keeping on despite the mounting grief washing through my soul, I finally came to the point where I couldn’t just keep on. I had to stop. Stop what I was doing. Stop and take stock of why I was doing it. And in the aftermath of tragedy, my body didn’t care about getting back into shape. The Dark Side had taken over.

I’d be lying if I said that the Darkness has left…it hasn’t.

But this past Monday, I decided to give my Star Wars Boot Camp a do-over. The desire to tune my body back to healthy has resurfaced and I feel extra motivated to make the best of my life. Especially remembering that there are people who don’t get one more day. It really does put your grief into perspective. It puts your fears and failures into perspective. And for me, it makes me stronger. It makes me want to fight for the best life I can have.

Enter…

Week 1: Sith Apprentice Week (Anakin Skywalker)

I’m altering the routine I had previously shared just a bit (pray I don’t alter it further.) 😉

Here’s a look at my morning routine, which I will do every morning this week:

1 min of each

  • Jumping Jacks
  • High Knees
  • Squats
  • Butt Kickers
  • Leg Lunges
  • Jog in Place
  • Crunches
  • High Kicks
  • Plank
  • Jump Rope

Arm Routine

  • Dumbbell Shoulder Press (4 sets, 8 reps)
  • Standing Dumbbell Curls (3 sets, 12 reps)
  • Reverse Curls (3 sets, 12 reps)
  • Dumbbell Lateral Raises (3 sets, 12 reps)
  • Hammer Curls (2 sets, 15 reps)
  • Tricep Press (3 sets, 12 reps)
  • Upright Dumbbell Row (3 sets, 12 reps)

Here’s another look at my playlist this week:

 

Bonus Rounds

To add a little extra oomph to this week’s workouts, I’m adding some YouTube videos that will focus on some Sith skills, such as lightsaber combat, Kendo and martial arts.  I chose one of these 4 days out of the week to try. Take a look:

No guarantee that I’ll master these in a week…in fact, it’s a safe bet to say that I won’t. But that’s not really the point of Boot Camp. This Boot Camp is supposed to give me focus. Every morning, I’ll be narrowing in on what’s happening with my body. Where the pain is, where I need to push myself. And by focusing on those things, it will take my eyes off of the unhealthy habits I’ve been forming in the last month or so.

As of today, I’m 2 days into it and I’ve had successful morning and evening workouts each day since starting! Now it’s time to add on these extra bonus workouts and push more…just like a Sith Apprentice would. Channeling my inner Anakin!

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Here’s a look at some of the training Hayden Christensen did for Episode III to get you inspired!

I Know the Power of the Dark Side

Photo from TeePublic.com

I gotta tell you, after the news of not one, but three shootings in the last 2 months, as well as (and more emotionally jarring for me) the murder of a friend, I understand the power of the Dark Side. I understand the temptation to lean into that power and the strength that comes from my anger. It gives me focus…makes me stronger. (where have I heard that before…)

It’s a righteous response to hearing about a crime that strips innocence and kindness down to a headline in a newspaper. There is power in the feeling, in the emotion.

It’s why the Jedi teach peace over emotion. It’s why they teach serenity over passion.

But today I don’t want peace and I don’t want serenity! I don’t want to seek knowledge. I don’t want harmony. I don’t want to understand or forgive. I want revenge.

I do.

In my heart, in my head, down to my fingertips, in my gut I want swift justice for the men and women mowed down by yet another gunman whose story somehow gets amplified above the stories of his victims. I want swift justice for one of the kindest, most faithful men at my church who was brutally killed. That’s what I want.

The Dark Side calls in moments of high emotion.

The Dark Side seems to have all the answers.

The Dark Side beckons!

But that’s why we (I) have to take extra care to fight for the Light. We (I) have to be vigilant in times of high emotion, in times of pain because these are the times when that Darkness feels comforting. Think of your warm, safe bed. All the lights are off. It’s safe there. It’s comfortable to be wrapped up in that blanket of Darkness and block out all Light.

I’m sure that’s what the congregation of First Baptist of Sutherland Springs wants to do. I’m sure it’s what the citizens of Las Vegas wanted and probably still want to do. And the families of the people mowed down in New York City and on and on and on.

These stories aren’t going away. The world isn’t going to just heal on it’s own. And it is so damn easy to just become numb to it. That’s what the Dark Side will do. It allows numbness to filter in till you can’t feel the pain anymore. And even worse…it tells you that numbness is what you need. It tells you it’s normal.

So, yeah…I know the power of the Dark Side. I feel it, even today, coursing through me. If I could tap into the power of the Force, I’m not sure I’d use my powers for good today. To be honest…it would be a struggle.

But the Emperor hasn’t won yet…the Dark Side has not taken over! The Light is still there and it reminds me of who I am. I use this Star Wars analogy today to add lightness to the pain of these tragedies. But the truth is that these are heavy weights that our country seems to carry more and more of around our collective necks. Salvation rests in believing that we were meant for more and loving beyond our understanding.

The Darkness lets me wish the man who killed my friend would meet with “eye for an eye” justice. But the Light…the Light challenges me to find compassion for the 23 year old who took his own life in a jail cell last Friday after having committed the crime against my friend. One path is much easier…one path is swift and far less complicated. Far less messy. Last week, the Darkness won my thoughts, but today I feel the Light remind me of what is good and pure and beautiful about this world and I think I have it in me to forgive.

Star Wars Boot Camp

Well, once again I’m standing at the start of a workout series. The last one was very successful. I felt good, I felt fit and then life interjected and while I haven’t completely regressed, I have not been at the level of fitness I’d like to be. The kind of level that energizes me. The kind of level that has me feeling my muscles in the good way!

So…here we go. But this time I want to invite you all into the process. Instead of showing you the results and breaking it down after 6 weeks of hard work, you are going to be my inspiration, my accountability, my reason for staying true to my 6:30am alarm each day!!!

If you want to follow along on the whole journey, come on over to my Instagram and keep an eye out for my stories each day. I’ll show you what workouts I’ll be doing and whether or not I actually do them. As well as daily inspiration to get me going and keep me going!

But I’ve gotten ahead of myself. What is this workout, you ask? I’m glad you did!! Cause it may just be my best idea yet. It’s a Star Wars Boot Camp!! That’s right…I said Star Wars!! The franchise that beats all other franchises IMHO!

You know my deep and abiding love for that galaxy far, far away. Now it’s turn that love into some fitness currency and put that love to work! Here’s a rough outline of week 1, but I’m leaving myself room to adjust each week as I need to.

I’ll be sharing my journey with you as I go and as usual, if you have any thoughts, let me know in the comments below or email me (nerdinthecity01@gmail.com)!! I’d love to hear your thoughts!!

Week 1: Anakin Skywalker (Sith Apprentice)

Week 1 is all about Anakin’s Dark Side, his fight with the ways of the Sith. I’m following the Sith Code this week:

Peace is a lie,

There is only Passion.

Through passion, I gain Strength.

Through strength, I gain Power.

Through power, I gain Victory.

Through victory, my chains are broken.

The Force shall set me free.

This week is all about Passion, Power, Strength and Victory. And since this is Sith Apprentice week, everything I do will be at home utilizing the resources I have at my disposal. You Tube videos, apps, weights, bodyweight exercises. This week is all about quantity over quality. Reps, reps, reps! Going till I can’t go anymore. Channeling my anger and my passions into strong fitness routines that will be explosive. Just like Anakin Skywalker and his decent into the Dark Side.

Here’s my playlist for Week 1:

Let’s talk food. This week I’m going to be eating lots of protein and cutting out all those foods that weigh me down: dairy, bread, bad sugars. And replacing those things with dark greens, black beans, black berries, red raspberries, black lentils, black teas, basically anything dark, black, red, bitter, etc. Things that will keep me on the path to the Dark Side. 

Here is a look at my morning power workout. I’ll be doing this every morning and pairing it with workouts like Power Yoga, Boxing, Arm Workouts and Tumbling/ Acrobatics.

Morning Routine:

-1 min indoor jog

-1 min mountain climbers

-1 min jump rope

-1 min jumping jacks

-1 min skiers

-1 min front kicks

-1 min power skips

-1 min high knees

-1 min squats

-1 min butt kickers 

(Repeat 3 times)

Embrace your Dark Side and together…we can rule the galaxy!!!

51 Ways to Live a Better Life

Lately, I have felt a bit off kilter. After eating so well and losing weight and working out regularly, I feel the difference more acutely when I don’t do the best things for my body. I feel it in my bones and I don’t like the feeling.

Photo from HealthyPlace.com

But, for some reason, I can’t seem to get back on track. My Grandmother recently passed away and emotional turmoil like that can certainly take a toll on the body! It’s a real thing and sometimes it’s not easy to track how something like that will effect you.

And then comes a Hurricane and all thoughts of routine go right out the window. No eating healthy, no going for a run. Because there is work to be done! And people to help and my little routine seems incredibly luxurious in light of a situation like Irma has caused in Florida and Harvey in Texas and elsewhere too.

All that to say, I just can’t get my groove back. So I’m trying a new challenge that I found on Pinterest (I’ll give full credit when I can find the source!) Who knows if it will end in a better life or a new improved Lizzie, but I know that when I have something to focus on, something fun or challenging or inspiring, I find myself to be a better person just from the trying. The simple act of showing up for myself usually does the trick.

Photo from HPLYRIKZ.com

If you want to try this yourself, here’s the list:

  1. Start fresh every single day.
  2. Check credit card, statements, bank accounts and pay stubs regularly.
  3. Adopt a “meatless Monday” mentality or the like.
  4. Put down your phone when you’re with people.
  5. Try the 2/30 rule: 2 hours of TV = 30 minutes of exercise.
  6. Understand that exercise doesn’t have to be a big time commitment.
  7. Cut back on EVIL sugars.
  8. Drink plenty of water.
  9. Don’t try to keep up with the Joneses, you’ll lose.
  10. Wear sunscreen.
  11. Ask HR about benefits you probably aren’t using.
  12. Safe sex, always!
  13. Never grocery shop on an empty stomach.
  14. Start biking.
  15. Keep healthy snacks at home, at work, in purse, etc.
  16. Stop beating yourself up.
  17. NEVER DO DRUGS, it’s that simple.
  18. Also never smoke.
  19. Take care of your clothes.
  20. Eat whole foods as much as possible.
  21. Consolidate and pay off debts ASAP!
  22. Don’t skip doctors appointments.
  23. Don’t overdo the booze.
  24. Don’t snack if you’re not hungry.
  25. Use SPF and wear a hat.
  26. Don’t rely on pills to help you sleep.
  27. Don’t rely on caffeine to keep you awake.
  28. Drink at least 8oz of fluids a day.
  29. Make your home a place you want to be.
  30. Don’t buy things you’ll only wear once.
  31. Use YouTube for free exercise videos.
  32. Google/Pinterest how to make your own cleaning supplies.
  33. Drop loose change into the same had daily.
  34. STAND UP FOR YOURSELF.
  35. Avoid tanning beds like the plague.
  36. Take medication seriously.
  37. Listen to your body.
  38. Don’t skimp on sleep.
  39. Do mental health checks.
  40. Read labels on everything from food to makeup.
  41. Prioritize stress management.
  42. Optimize your fertility – if you plan to have kids.
  43. Consider drinking liquid chlorophyll.
  44. Always wear a seatbelt, even in Taxis and Ubers.
  45. Wash hands often.
  46. Floss after every brushing.
  47. Sneeze into your arm, not your palm.
  48. For every 20 minutes on the computer, look away for 20 seconds.
  49. Count to 10 when you’re angry.
  50. Learn to take constructive criticism.
  51. Never Google your health condition.

Some of these may be easy to accomplish. Others more challenging. But all are good things to consider.

If you want to join in, maybe pick one or two things that you’d like to try this month. As my friend Renita always says #babystepstogreatness

If you want to jump in head first, come along for the ride!!