Hunger in Your Belly

I met a dancer once. The fittest person I’ve ever met in my life. Part of her job and livelihood meant staying fit and keeping in the best shape she possibly could. As a basic American girl who has long been exposed to the false narrative that beautiful boils down to skinnier…plain and simple, I wanted to know some of her secrets. And she gave me advice I’ll never forget.

She didn’t tell me what all the diet plans and fitness routines will tell you…move more, eat less. No, instead she told me she goes to bed every night with a hunger in her belly. I think about that advice a lot.

I don’t think she meant “don’t eat before bed” like a lot of fitness gurus will tell you, although it’s good advice. I don’t think she meant “stop eating after a certain time at night” or “no midnight snacks” which is also advice you’ll read about on fitness blogs and in health magazines. So maybe that’s all decent advice for staying fit or losing weight. But that’s not what she meant.

Even though she was talking about a biological need like “hunger” I think she meant something far more emotional and philosophical than the act of eating or not eating. Think about times when you have been well and truly fed. I mean full to the bottom of your heels.

Picture a Thanksgiving day…maybe it’s the evening and you’ve just had all the things at the holiday buffet. The turkey, the stuffing, the mashed potatoes, the brussels sprouts, the salad, the bread, the cranberry sauce, the pie…all of it. You know the feeling I’m coming to next…it’s not just being content. It’s being absolutely stuffed. You feel lethargic. You feel lazy. Maybe you lie around for the rest of the night in a state of light coma with the rest of your clan.

We’ve all been there. And it’s not even a bad experience on occasions like Thanksgiving. Holidays are meant to be treated with a little looser fist, giving yourself more grace and allowing yourself an extra helping of Granny’s apple pie, after all Granny may not be around to make it much longer. So eat that pie!

But still, it’s not even the physical act of being hungry that she was talking about. When you’re hungry, truly hungry, you have something to fight for. There is a primal instinct inside of us when we have a basic need like hunger that comes out. Some cave person imperative that we didn’t even know we had. And this is what she meant.

When this dancer friend told me she goes to bed with a hunger in her belly every night, she meant that she keeps that instinct alive. She doesn’t kill it off with complacency and comfort and a full Thanksgiving stomach. She doesn’t appease the dragon inside of her giving it what it wants till it goes to sleep and stops breathing fire. No, she keeps the dragon hungry so the dragon has something to fight for. Something to live for.

Dragon Fire Health and Fitness blog

I believe this is the best health advice I’ve ever gotten in my life. And there have been seasons in my life when I’ve followed this advice to the letter. I’ve never been as fit or as healthy as I was during the times when I actively went to bed with a hunger in my belly every single night. I had a poorly fed dragon in my belly and that was motivation to get out for a run every single morning. It was motivation to pursue dreams like starting my own blog or a side hustle or a web series. Those are times in my life that I can look back on and see that the hunger was there in my belly and it made me better.

I wish I could tap into that every single day for ever and ever. There are people who do a good job of going to bed with a hunger in their belly more nights than they go to bed with a well fed dragon in there. There are people who are paid to keep the hunger in their belly and that is a powerful motivator, for sure. There are people, like my dancer friend, who have taught themselves that there is no other way to live than to have the hunger in their belly.

This doesn’t mean that the people with a hunger in their belly are all skinny and perfectly fit and walking around with the flawless bodies on the planet or the most perfect lives. Not even my dancer friend is free of flaws. We are all human. And we all have to be ok with that!

But, for my dancer friend, her hunger translated into fitness and physical movement, which led to a very physically fit body. For others that can translate into health and fitness of a different kind. Healthy careers, healthy parenting, healthy relationships, healthy whatever. There are all kinds of ways the hungry dragon in your belly can motivate you and make you want to get up and fight for something bigger every single day.

Lately, my dragon has been overfed…he’s fat and he’s lazy and he sits around all day dreaming of things he’ll never actually do unless something changes.

Well, dragon…little buddy…I feel a change in the wind, says I and I think it’s time to stop feeding you so many times a day.

#InfinityGauntletFitness – Intro

It’s that time again! The fog of the holidays has finally lifted (the older I get the longer it lingers.) The weather has been turning warmer and warmer down here in Florida and it’s time to gear up for a brand new fitness series!!

Themed fitness series have been the best thing for me in regards to getting on track with my personal health and fitness. From my #AvengerinTraining series to my #PrincessBootCamp, each one has motivated me beyond just meal plans and fitness routines. These are opportunities to break bad habits, discover new things and make real, lasting lifestyle changes. Even if you only take away 1 or 2 things from each series, that builds up to a really good life. And as my friend Renita always says, #babystepstogreatness.

With Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War on the horizon, I thought I’d start with the franchise that motivates me more than any other franchise out there. Do I think I could be a superhero one day? Yes! Do I think I have some work to do before I achieve superhero status? You betcha. But I don’t like to recycle fitness plans. The thing that worked for me 4 years ago with #AvengerinTraining won’t work for me now. My life is different. My schedule is different. And my body is older. So I have to move at a pace that works for today’s me, not yesterday’s me.

But like my #AvengerinTraining series, I wanted to use Marvel as my inspo. So I came up with a series based on the Infinity Stones. Which have been peppered throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe for years, if you’ve been watching closely. The stones are the McGuffins that Thanos himself has been seeking since The Avengers hit movie theaters in 2012. They are all powerful gemstones that are tied to all the power in the universe. Each one has a different property and purpose, but when they are all combined in the Infinity Gauntlet, they grant the user…

With that in mind, I devised a 7 week series. 1 week for each of the 6 Infinity Stones (Space, Reality, Power, Mind, Time and Soul Stones) and a 7th week for the full Infinity Gauntlet!

Stay tuned for a full week by week breakdown, starting with Week 1: The Space Stone.

But here’s a little tip if you want to dive into a new fitness series, or anything really…put your money where your dreams are! I’m starting each week by purchasing all my fitness classes up front and creating my schedule right off the bat. That way, I have no excuses. The money has been put aside, the classes have been purchased and it’s just up to me to do the things I say I want to do. So…stay tuned!!

Thrift Store Cosplay Day 12

Thrift Store Cosplay Day 12 Hulk Smash Avengers t shirt fashion blog post Bruce Banner

Thrift Store Cosplay fashion blogger nerd post Instagram challenge

Day 12: Hulk

HULK LIKE THRIFT!

Thrift Store Cosplay Day 12: Hulk Smash

And…BONUS!! This shirt has a special surprise!

Thrift Store Cosplay Day 12

T-Shirt from Goodwill

Shorts from OMG! Thrift

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Thrift Store Cosplay Day 12 flat lay fashion blog post Avengers Bruce Banner

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Photo from Comic Vine

Thrift Store Cosplay Day 6

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Thrift Store Cosplay fashion blogger nerd post Instagram challenge

Day 6: Amazon from Themyscira

Ok, I could have gone the Wonder Woman route or even done a faithful adaptation of Antiope or Hippolyta, but since I truly believe that I belong among the Amazons of Themyscira, I did my own take on it. I don’t want to have someone else’s look when I finally find the hidden island!

So here is my unique take on Amazonian fashion. Complete with shorts under my skirt for serious fighting!

Thrift Store Cosplay

Tunic from Goodwill

Belt from Goodwill

Shoes from OMG! Thrift

Wristbands from my cosplay closet

Headband (a repurposed necklace) from Plato’s Closet

Sword from my personal sword collection (Yep, you read that right!)

Thrift Store Cosplay Day 6

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Thrift Store Cosplay Day 5

Thrift Store Cosplay Day 5 Beverly Crusher from Star Trek The Next Generation fashion blogger

Thrift Store Cosplay fashion blogger nerd post Instagram challenge

Day 5: Beverly Crusher from Star Trek: The Next Generation

With a brand new Star Trek on the horizon, I’ve been looking back at some of the episodes from my very favorite Star Trek series…The Next Generation. And one of my favorite characters Dr. Beverly Crusher. The constant (and only) shipper for my very favorite Starfleet Captain…Captain Jean Luc Picard! Here’s my take on the classy, sassy Doctor!

Thrift Store Cosplay Day 5 Beverly Crusher from Star Trek The Next Generation fashion blogger

Top from Salvation Army

Lab Coat from Goodwill

Black Pants from OMG! Thrift

Shoes from my own closet

DIY Communicator made with cardboard and foil paper

Thrift Store Cosplay Day 5 Beverly Crusher Star Trek The Next Generation fashion blog post flat lay

Thrift Store Cosplay Day 5 Beverly Crusher Star Trek The Next Generation fashion blog post

 

#PrincessBootCamp – Elsa Fitness Plan

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Princess Boot Camp Elsa Week Nerd Disney Fitness Blog

For Elsa Week, the activities are cold…chilly…icy…frosty…well, Frozen, if you will. And if you’re currently living in an icy tundra, activities like these might be easier to come by: skiing, sledding, snow tubing, snow ball fights, ice skating, making snow angels. If said tundra is available to you, take full advantage! It’s what Queen Elsa would do.

Me? I live in the tropical land of Florida…Central Florida. Where snow is scarce, especially in July…for that matter, it’s scarce in winter as well. So icy sports and activities are few and far between. But I do have a few options to work with for Elsa Week and maybe you will too.

Ice Skating

Disney Princess Boot Camp Elsa Week ice skating fitness blog post

When I want all the excitement of living in a cold, wintry place without actually having to live in one, I head to the RDV Sport’s Complex for their open skate. The hours are pretty particular and not always available, but they play fun music and you can burn a lot of calories with a couple hours of skating a week.

Roller Skating

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If ice skating is not an option, try roller skating. Same amount of calories will be burned, but it’s much warmer in a roller rink. Bonus: that sweet smell of sweaty teenagers (if teenagers still go roller skating. Do they? Who has the time to know!)

Winter Ski Experience

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This one is random! Around the corner from my office is a virtual skiing experience. There’s a big screen and ski simulators that give you all the muscle work of skiing without the snow and the falling off your skis in the snow and the breaking your arm cause you fell off your skis in the snow! I don’t know how popular these are across the country, but if you’re in Central Florida, give it a try!

And let me know which Elsa Week activities are getting your heart rate up!

#PrincessBootCamp – Elsa Meal Plan

Disney Princess Boot Camp Elsa Week nerd blog post fitness

Princess Boot Camp Elsa Week Nerd Disney Fitness Blog

Let’s first discuss that Elsa is no Princess…she is the Queen! Now that we got that out of the way…

This week we are off to Arendelle for our fitspiration. Home of mystical powers that only Queen Elsa has and only those rock trolls know anything about. Home of some seriously dead Disney parents. And home of Elsa and Anna, two sisters that just can’t seem to talk things out until it gets really, really bad.

After the death of Anna and Elsa’s parents, (and possibly leading to the birth of their brother Tarzan, fan theory…Google it!) the sisters become distanced by a secret that Elsa has been keeping since she was a little girl. She has ice powers. Where did she get them? We don’t know. Why was it the best idea to keep them a secret and make her feel like the villain in her own story? Oh, it wasn’t! But here is where we find ourselves.

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Photo by Cristina Fowler @thelittlestfowler

Years of not building snowmen together has left these sisters on opposite sides of the castle door and on Elsa’s coronation day, they are finally opening that door to the people of their kingdom, as well as to the surrounding kingdoms. Well, if you’re guessing that no good can come from this…you are right. No good does come from it. Anna meets Prince Hans…the seemingly perfect other half of her sandwich. The kingdom is subjected to the Duke of Weselton and the truth finally comes about about Elsa’s powers and the kingdom is plunged into a Frozen tundra.

Which brings me to our shopping list this week. I based this week’s food selection on a Nordic diet and shopped in the Frozen food aisle as much as I could. Here’s what you’ll need this week…

-whole grains (barley, rye, oats)

-frozen berries (strawberries, rasperries, blueberries, blackberries)

-root vegetables (carrots and potatoes)

-cabbage

-frozen vegetables (peas and broccoli)

-fish (salmon, mackrel, herring)

-pork

-beans

-eggs

Lots of health benefits to a Nordic Diet. I really liked the food this week and the little nod to the frozen food section is just for continuity. You can feel free to eat the fresh versions of fruits and vegetables. Though I love to have frozen berries for dessert! Great substitute for other frozen desserts that might tempt you.

#PrincessBootCamp – Merida Week Inspo

Disney Princess Boot Camp Merida Week Brave fitness inspo nerd blog post

Princess Boot Camp Merida Week Nerd Fitness

  1. Wild Horses – Birdy, Sam Feldt
  2. Brave – Sara Bareilles
  3. Brave Honest Beautiful – Fifth Harmony, Meghan Trainor
  4. Brave – Moriah Peters
  5. Brave the Dark – Bird Passengers
  6. Touch the Sky – Julie Fowlis
  7. Into the Open Air – Julie Fowlis
  8. Siúil A Rún – Lisa Kelly
  9. Girl Named Freedom – Lisa Kelly
  10. The Lark in the Clear Air – Loreena McKennitt
  11. To the Sky – Owl City
  12. Skylines – Glades
  13. Fairytale – Alexander Rybak
  14. Catch the Wind – Donovan
  15. Babel – Mumford & Sons
  16. Home – Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes
  17. After the Storm – Mumford & Sons
  18. Dirty Paws – Of Monsters and Men
  19. I See Fire – Ed Sheeran
  20. 9 Crimes – Damien Rice
  21. Thirteen Sad Farewells – Stu Larsen
  22. Follow the Sun – Xavier Rudd
  23. Blue Skies – Noah and the Whale
  24. Sons and Daughters – Allman Brown, Liz Lawrence
  25. Daughters – John Mayer
  26. Daughters – Lissie
  27. His Daughter – Molly Kate Kestner
  28. Warrior Daughter – Wildwood Kin
  29. Beer Hands – Private Island
  30. The Monster – Eminem, Rihanna
  31. Touch the Sky – Hillsong United
  32. Noble Maiden Fair – Brave Soundtrack
  33. Learn Me Right – Karoline Sem Larm
  34. The Merry Sisters of Fate – Lúnasa
  35. He Mo Leannan (Hey my Love) – Mary Jane Lamond
  36. Under Pressure – Queen, David Bowie
  37. The Apple Tree – Nina Nesbitt
  38. Lon-dubh (Blackbird) – Julie Fowlis
  39. Tha Mo Ghaol Air Aird a’ Chuan – Julie Fowlis
  40. Hug air a’ Bhonaid Mhoir – Julie Fowlis
  41. Tunes Set – Julie Fowlis
  42. Pride – Amy Macdonald
  43. The Whole of the Moon – The Waterboys
  44. Way in the World – Nina Nesbitt
  45. Don’t Stop Believing – Red Hot Chili Peppers
  46. Scottish Fiddle Jig – The Scottish Bagpipes Highland Pipes

 

Brave

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We start our movie list with our fiery haired heroine, Merida from Disney’s Brave. As the daughter of King Fergus and Queen Elinor, there is a certain life that Merida can look forward to. The life of a royal princess and future Queen of the Scottish lords. This means she must marry and she must behave herself. She’s supposed to learn from her mother and not bring her weapons to the dinner table. But Merida wasn’t born the perfect little princess and she believes her destiny lies on a different path from the one she was born with. What I love about Brave is that it’s the story of a tumultuous relationship between mother and daughter, not about a Princess falling in love with a Prince. This movie breaks from Disney Princess movie tradition and sets a precedent for Disney Princesses to come. It’s ain’t all about the man and given her choice among the sons of the Scottish lords vying for her hand…can you blame her? Respect, Merida! Respect.

Braveheart

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Staying in the borders of Scotland, the next movie on our Merida Inspo list is Braveheart, a natural follow-up movie to Brave! I mean…if you’ve never seen Braveheart then you’ve been living in a cave or you are like…6 years old and if it’s the latter, this blog is a little old for ya, kid! If it’s the former, welcome back to the world…go watch Braveheart! “They may take our lives, but they’ll never take…our FREEDOM!” No matter how you feel about the decline of Mel Gibson, that moment is still pure movie magic!!

Highlander

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Ok, the premise of Highlander and ensuing spin offs and sequels is intense. There are Immortals…they fight to the death and of course “there can only be one.” Connor MacLeod, our main character, is one such Immortal as is his and his mentor (hey Sean Connery.) This movie did very poorly when it came out in 1986, but has gained a cult following. And obviously became popular enough to garner Highlander II: The Quickening, Highlander III: The Sorcerer, Highlander: Endgame, Highlander: The Source, and not only a TV series, but an animated TV series as well! Dive in, but beware the Highlander current will sweep you away (or maybe not. I’ve personally never felt the need to watch any of the sequels.)

Hunger Games

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Bad ass chicks who shoot bow and arrows stick together! Katniss and Merida have plenty in common. Mommy issues? Check. Mad archery skills? Check. A destiny that calls them where they don’t want to go? Double check! This movie has plenty of those Brave vibes and you have to be brave to make it through the Hunger Games…see what I did there!

Lord of the Rings Trilogy

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Ok, it’s not Scotland, but there’s archery and sweeping country side and that’s about where the comparison between Brave and LOTR ends, but the Lord of the Rings trilogy basically belongs on every list…so, here it is!

Brigadoon

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Brigadoon has absolutely nothing in common with the above list of more action oriented movie, other than the Scottish thing…to tie it back to Brave. But it’s a classic Hollywood musical starring Gene Kelly, Cyd Charisse and Van Johnson and is an absolute treasure, hence it’s addition to this list! Brigadoon is a disappearing town in the Highlands of Scotland that appears once every 100 years. One that Gene Kelly and Van Johnson happen upon when they are on holiday shooting grouse or whatever it is you shoot in Scotland. And guess which day they happen upon the usually wild and empty space where Brigadoon usually isn’t…yep, that 100th day. Gene meets Cyd and falls in love, obviously. But Gene and Van have lots of questions about this disappearing paradise, especially after a native tries to leave and gets shot in the process. Mystery abounds, love is in the air and there’s lots of singing!!

The Decoy Bride

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This one is a bit of a fringe choice and unless you are a big fan of the 10th Doctor and have actively searched out all you can find of David Tennant, you might not know anything about it. But this rom-com has 2 things going for it that are directly relevant to Brave. #1: It takes place on the island of Hegg, which “lies half-drowned and wind-battered, the furthermost drop of the outermost spray of the curling wave of the Outer Hebrides.” And #2: The Decoy Bride stars Kelly Macdonald, none other than the voice of Merida herself. It’s a simply adorable romantic comedy and on sick days, it is my go to feel better movie these days! Give it a watch, why don’t ya?!

#PrincessBootCamp – Merida Fitness Plan

Disney Princess boot Camp Merida week archery fitness blog post

Princess Boot Camp Merida Week Nerd Fitness

Merida is easily one of the fittest princesses Disney has in cannon. She rides a horse and shoots a bow and is just generally on the move throughout the entirety of her movie, ‘Brave.’ That’s why the life of a royal doesn’t appeal to her. She has no interest in quietly sitting and weaving a tapestry. Not when there are archery competitions to enter and wide open spaces to ride through. No, for Merida, life is about moving and seeing and doing!

So this week…just keep moving. Keep Merida in your mind’s eye and pick up a new activity when you have some down time. It doesn’t have to be a horseback ride through the Scottish Highlands. Most of us don’t have easy access to horses all the time, at least I don’t. But use what you have around you to support your fitness. Yoga doesn’t require any equipment at all, neither does running.

But if you do want to try those activities that Merida might have partaken in, here’s a look at what you can do:

Archery

Disney Princess boot Camp Merida week archery fitness blog post

It’s not as simple as point and shoot. Archery is a skill. One that, to be honest, I am not good at quite yet. The couple of times I’ve done archery, including for Merida Week and for Hawkeye week when I was an #AvengerinTraining, hasn’t quite been enough to provide proficiency, but it’s an activity I really love doing. Lining up the target, pulling back the bow and letting the arrow fly (far, far, far away from not only the bullseye, but the target itself) is a great feeling. If you’ve never tried archery, you should!

Horseback Riding

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Horseback riding is an activity that has a lot of different levels. You can go for a jaunty trail ride, which isn’t very challenging and doesn’t really take skill. Or you can learn how to horseback ride, which takes a lot more skill and does challenge you. Any level of horseback riding is a great activity for Merida week, but it’s the actual skill that I wanted to focus on. Though this is something that you cannot obtain after one session. It really requires a lot more dedication and practice. But an intro class to horseback riding is so much fun! And if you have a place near you that is decently priced, do it!

Scottish Dancing

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Ok, this one isn’t really something we see Merida do in Brave, but as I was flipping through the Sunday paper this week, my eye caught a posting for local Scottish Dancing and hello…I had to try it. This is definitely something that could be hard to come by based on where you are located. But always try your local paper or anywhere that might post local events. You never know what treasures await you!