Pairings Retreat: From Dream to Reality

One day, shortly after the beginning of the new year, my friend Cristina from Your Personal Producer and I were on G-chat as we normally are, sharing our dreams for 2018. She was in a funk and I was in a post-Paris high! 2017 had seen some serious ups and downs for both of us and we didn’t want 2018 to end up being the same old song and dance. You know…dream big at the beginning of the year, start off strong and lose it somewhere around mid-April.

In a moment of honesty, she blurted out: (paraphrasing) “I wish I could just get away. Go on a retreat and get my thoughts in order for 2018.”

And I said “Let’s do that!”

The funny thing is, it’s usually me who dreams beyond my reach and usually she steps in to tell me: “That’s possible.” But on this day our roles were reversed and soon our dreaming turned into a game plan!

She threw out a concept, I took it and threw things back at her and an actionable plan formed not only in our minds and on our proverbial cocktail napkins, but also on a shared Google Drive folder that would soon become an actionable itinerary for the retreat of our dreams.

Pairings Retreat

We started off with the dream of a beachy, intimate retreat filled with instagrammable drinks paired with vision board creations. Photo sessions paired with content calendars. Adorable products from bakeries like P is for Pie and brands like band.o to inspire our own creative juices. It all came together like the stories you hear of visionaries in restaurants spit balling ideas and then…one day, we have Twitter. Or in a parent’s garage and all of a sudden…Apple is born.

In fact, Cristina and I have this thing that happens to us when we really get going on an idea on G-chat. One of us will type out an idea and hit send only to find the other person has thought of almost the exact same thing as well. Leading to a lot of “GET OUT OF MY HEAD” and “HOW IS THIS HAPPENING?”

In moments like these, we are so like-minded that our dreams and visions become transcendent. Like somehow God is planting ideas in both our heads and because He had the good sense to make us friends, He’s smiling at His handiwork when we, humble creations that we are, realize how our ideas fit together just as they are meant to!

So fast forward through all of our pre-planning and big dreaming to the retreat itself.

Road Trip Reunion:

Cristina flew in early Tuesday morning. We didn’t want to skip a beat or miss precious time enacting our respective visions. I grocery shopped and product sourced ahead of time with a handy shared shopping list on the G-Drive (the thing that helps us get all things done.)

Pairings Retreat - a creative retreat for blogger by Cristina and Liz

The drive to Madeira Beach is about 2 hours from Orlando, so we had plenty of time to get our thoughts in order and make some plans ahead of our scheduled time of making plans. Plus, we had a chance to get important friend catch-up time in there as well, which is vital to a partnership like ours! We strive very hard to strike a balance between best friends forever and business partners. And that comes with equal helpings of dream casting and venting about elements of our everyday life.

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Werk Werk Werk:

Once we reached our destination, we were in for a penny, in for a pound. We wasted no time unpacking the car, setting up our rooms and our work spaces, making our first round of drinks and getting our hair into sensible work pony-tails. We had a quick lunch on the beach of Publix subs, because Publix subs are the be all and end all of sandwiches for any home grown Florida girl (and we both are!)

Pairings Retreat - a creative retreat for bloggers by Cristina and Lizzie

Next, we set about our goal setting. With the help of some materials Cristina brought along, we began to ask really tough questions about our goals. What we wanted to achieve in life? What was stopping us? What did we allow in our lives that caused road blocks we may not even be aware of yet? What emotional juggernauts did we each have to work on and overcome in the coming year to make space for big dreams? So…no big deal. Just the extremely big, life-altering questions of the every day life, right?

Visionaries:

Following that, we set to the task of vision boarding. Cristina’s board was and all-encompassing snap shot of the life she wants to create for herself. A sensible 11×17″ format that would fit nicely in her carry on and be easy to take home with her.

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My vision board…well, you know I don’t do anything the “normal” way. Mine turned into more of what I like to call, a vision journal. Each page representing a different aspect of my personality that I wanted to highlight or work on or change altogether.  (more to come on vision journaling!)

Sunsets are Non-negotiable:

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After getting a whole lot of WERK done, we made a rule about Pairings Retreat…Sunsets are non-negotiable!! So we walked out to the beach (which was mere steps away from the front door of our beach cottage) and watched as the day sank into nighttime. Sunsets are the best way to end a day, IMHO. They remind you that there is beauty waiting at the end of whatever you just went through. And they reminded us to consider that the world has so much to offer.

Winner, Winner, Pesto Dinner:

When pairing up with a Forever Friend and future business partner, it’s nice to combine skills. Some of which I have, some of which she has and some of which we share. But making a delicious Pesto Chicken Pasta for dinner…that’s all Cristina!

Throughout our day we were cognizant of the moments when we wanted to hunker down and get through our list, as well as making room for moments when we needed a little R&R to refresh us for the hard stuff. Pairings Retreat quickly became about so much more than scheduling blog posts and creating actionable plans for our future. It was only the end of day one and already we both had the feeling that we had stumbled upon something really special.

Second Verse, Better than the First:

We awoke at a reasonable hour in the morning on Day 2. Actually, I got up a little earlier to go sit on the beach and watch the day break. Breakfast was mimosas and bagels from Brooklyn Water Bagel, a local place in Winter Park and a favorite place of mine (shop small!!!)

Pairings Retreat - a creative retreat for bloggers by Cristina and Lizzie

We analyzed our schedule for the day over breakfast and made some adjustments. We wanted to have more time for photo sessions and wanted to take advantage of the weather in the morning. Being flexible in the midst of a set schedule became really important for us. We had things to accomplish, but we also wanted to be free to move with the day as we needed to.

Snap My Picture:

Cristina has gotten very good at taking my picture. From our days of working on my web series in New York to her constantly being my photographer for fitness series and fashion posts. Me…I’m not as good at it. But this was a chance to stretch myself. I’m usually the one in front of the camera, because I like to be there. She’s usually behind it, for the same reason. But Pairings Retreat is about challenging yourself. Creating what you need. And learning that the walls you have to climb are only as tall as you let them be. Learn to climb and you don’t have a wall problem anymore, do you!

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Photo by Cristina Fowler
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Photo by Cristina Fowler
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Photo by Cristina Fowler (she really is good at this game!)

Working Lunch:

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We continued to bump things around and change our schedule as our needs dictated for the day. Lunch became a working lunch. We put the finishing touches on our vision boards and started in on our writing session. Whatever that meant for each of us. We are both bloggers, but I took that time to continue filing out my questionnaire about my future, which became addictive and illuminating. I didn’t realize some of the things that were coming up in my answers and it allowed me a perspective on my future that I had not considered yet.

Treat Yourself:

Who among us isn’t energized by a treat? The mere mention of a cupcake in the vicinity and I perk right up! Prior to the trip, I had procured a couple special treats for us. Pies from P is for Pie, cupcakes from Small Cakes Cupcakery and extra large Hershey’s chocolate bars for each of us (milk chocolate for Cristina and dark chocolate for me.) We had a drink pairing for each portion of our day and delectable meals lined up around every corner.

Pairings Retreat - a creative retreat for bloggers by Cristina and Lizzie

We didn’t over eat. We didn’t get drunk or binge on sweets to the point of sugar comas, but we did enjoyed our time together to the fullest and took time to treat ourselves as we worked hard and got our check lists done! This is now a founding principle of Pairings Retreat. TREAT YOURSELF!!

Bring Me that Horizon:

As I  mentioned before…sunsets are non-negotiable at Pairings and we took the chance to get another photo session in before the sun took it’s bow for our last night on retreat.

On the Town:

To add a big, shiny bow to our fabulous and very productive 2-day retreat, we went out to dinner Wednesday night. We couldn’t believe we had only started the morning before. We had gotten so much done!

There’s something about fresh seafood on the porch of a beach town restaurant that is especially rejuvenating. We had more fruity drinks and more delicious desserts. And we talked about how we wanted to expand our idea for Pairings. What if we offered this experience to more bloggers who were looking for what we had found here?

To the Future:

It’s funny. After a certain age, things like camp and sleep overs and getaways become hard to come by because of life circumstance or frowned upon because of age. 30-something women don’t have slumber parties anymore. Adults don’t go away to sleep over camp. We grown-ups have it all figured out, after all. But I call shenanigans!!

Pairings Retreat - a creative retreat for blogger Cristina and Lizzie

We need to get away sometimes. We need to recharge our batteries away from the people who spend the most time using our batteries up. We need time with other creatives to spark our own adventures and dreams. That is exactly what Pairings became for us.

And even better, that is what Pairings can be for you too!!

If that sounds like just what you’re looking for, then…Stay tuned!

Pairings Retreat - a creative retreat for bloggers by Cristina and Lizzie

An American in Paris: Day 4

Lizzie does Paris

Monday, January 1st, 2018

Travel Journal Continued…

“It’s officially 2018. My word for this year is BRIGHT and I think I’m off to a really great start!

I’m off to “L’endroit le plus heureux sur terre.” Which according to Google translate mean, “the happiest place on Earth.”

Oh, hey! Bonus! All the subways and trains are free on New Year’s Eve and most of New Year’s Day too. What a lovely New Year’s gift! Thanks Paris!

Lizzie does Paris - walking shoes

I’m eternally grateful that today and tomorrow include lengthy train rides in my schedule. My feet are in dire need of a rest after last night. Plus, I always did like train rides out of big cities and then back again. I used to love the train rides I’d take up to Bedford in New York. There’s something so soothing about watching the world fly by you.

I debated about including Disneyland Paris in my itinerary. Should I…shouldn’t I? Is it really how I want to spend one of my precious days in Paris? But the answer kept coming back as a resounding…YES!!! After all, this trip isn’t about the Eiffel Tower (though she was just what I needed last night.) It’s not even really about Paris itself (thought she is a dream I want to live in always.) This trip is about me! Letting go of things. Discovering new things. And ultimately…being incandescently happy for as long as humanly possible.

Lizzie does Disneyland Paris - rose gold ears
I think this face tells you all you need to know about my day at Disneyland Paris!!

 

My rose gold ears…the coveted ears of the year, come from @michelleashleyhoughton and @desirae_jae on Instagram. I won them from those beautiful Instagram ladies and they added extra magic sparkle to my day!! Thanks ladies!!

And may I just say…as I walk up Main Street and see that big, bright, pink castle waiting for me….this was the best decision for today!!

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You guys!!! This place is amazing! They have Sleeping Beauty’s Castle instead of Cinderella’s and…IT’S PINK!!! Could there be anything more lovely about today?!!

Lizzie Does Disneyland Paris

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Lizzie Does Disneyland Paris - Sleeping Beauty's Castle

What I loving about Disneyland Paris are the similarities and differences between this park and Disney World back home. The park retains that familiar Disney flavor, but it also has it’s own spice to offer. Plus…I have a new FAVORITE RIDE OF ALL TIME. Hyperspace Mountain. It’s Space Mountain, but with Star Wars (and without the crick in the neck when you get off.)

Lizzie Does Disneyland Paris - Hyperspace Mountain

Lizzie Does Disneyland Paris - Hyperspace Mountain
I was WAY more excited about this ride than the little kid next to me.

Couldn’t leave without getting a pic with little Annie!

Lizzie Does Disneyland Paris - Darth Vader meet and greet

One thing that is different here is their “Haunted Mansion.” In Paris they have “Phantom Manor.” Doesn’t that just roll off the tongue…”Phantom Manor.” You can’t help but say it with an accent. Or maybe that’s just me!

Lizzie does Disneyland Paris - Phantom Manor

I picked the perfect day to go to the park because #1: Everything in Paris is closed on New Year’s Day…says so in my guide book. And #2: This is the grossest, soggiest, most dreary day. And because I’m at the happy place, the rain and the cold…they just don’t bother me at all!

Lizzie Does Disneyland Paris - happy place
Everything about being here today has me feeling that wonderful sense of wide-eyed wonder!

I’ve also discovered a new life goal to add to my list…make it to every single Disney park in the WHOLE WORLD!!! A lofty goal to be sure! But in 2018, I’m already going to be seeing 3 different Disney’s in one year. Obviously Disneyland Paris, Disney World back home, AND…Disneyland California in June with my friends Erin and Cristina! I love how a plan comes together!!

Lizzie does Disneyland Paris

Lizzie does Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris has 2 parks to experience. And since this is my big trip…why skimp now! I bought a park hopper and it has been TOTALLY WORTH IT!!!

Lizzie Does Disneyland Paris

Ok, something I’ve discovered over here. The meals are amazing! In Paris, they believe in a balanced meal. So every meal comes with a side salad or veggies, a dessert and a drink. And it’s more affordable than I would have imagined a complete and balanced meal at Disney to be.

Lizzie does Disneyland Paris -

I couldn’t resist a meet and greet with Mickey Mouse. Even though I meet and greet him all the time back in Orlando. Doesn’t matter! Every time you meet Mickey Mouse, it’s like being a kid all over again!

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And guys…Mickey LOVED my bright green hair! How cute is that!

Lizzie Dies Disneyland Paris - Mickey Mouse

I miss the big hat that used to be at MGM (Hollywood Studios) back in the day. But look what Paris has…

Lizzie does disneyland Paris

The day just got better and better as it passed by. The weather went from dreary to almost sunny, back to dreary, then there was a break around sundown and the evening was perfection.

Lizzie does Disneyland Paris - Mike Wazowski Monsters Inc

I wandered back and forth between parks, doing as many rides as I could, watching both fireworks shows and just generally being the very happiest version of myself!

Lizzie does Disneyalnd Paris

Best thing about going to Disney alone…delicious Mickey-shaped cakes for ONE!!

Lizzie does Disneland Paris

Lizzie does Disneyland Paris

First fireworks show of the night was at Studios…

Lizzie does Disneyland paris

And then it was back over to the pink castle for their fireworks show!!

Lizzie does disneyland Paris

Lizzie does Disneyland Paris

Lizzie does Disneyland Paris

Lizzie Does Disneyland paris - Sleeping Beauty's Castle

Lizzie Does Disneyland Paris

It was fantastic, stupendous, majestic, unforgettable, just what I needed…what’s the word…oh yeah…MAGICAL!”

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!

#PrincessBootCamp – Moana Meal Plan

Disney Princess Boot Camp Moana Week Meal Plan fitness blog post

Princess Boot Camp Moana Week Nerd Disney Fitness Blog

“See that line where the sky meets the sea…it calls me!”

Moana Week had to be my very favorite week of all 8 Disney Princess Boot Camp weeks. And as it rounded out the end of my fitness plan, I was able to get really energized and finish strong!

If you haven’t seen the movie Moana yet, it is recently on Netflix and is a delightful addition to the Disney Princess canon of movies! When we first meet Moana, she is just a baby, daughter of the chief and her destiny is basically laid out in front of her. Her path is set, her future decided. But Moana has a wandering spirit and she just wants to see what is beyond the shoals of her tiny island.

Moana Week
Photo by Cristina Fowler @thelittlestfowler

Her wise old grandmother is constantly telling her to seek her own future, make her own choices. But the call of duty is very strong for Moana as well. She does not want to let her family down. It isn’t until a deep sickness threatens the island of Motunui and her grandmother’s dying words encourage her to follow her heart, that Moana finally seeks her true destiny to find the demigod Maui and restore the heart of Te Fiti.

Since Moana is raised on the little Polynesian island of Motunui, this week’s menu follows a Pacific Islander’s diet. Here’s the shopping list:

-Seafood

-Chicken

-Pork

-Coconut and Coconut Milk

-Tropical Fruits (pineapple, mango, kiwi, etc.)

-Nuts (macadamia, peanuts, lichi)

-Root Veggies

-Starchy Fruits (green bananas, cassava, breadfruit, taro)

-Ginger

-Lemon and Lime

-Garlic

-Onions and Scallions

I really enjoyed this menu. So many delicious flavors, I wasn’t bored with any of my meals this week! I hope you enjoy it!

#PrincessBootCamp – Rapunzel Meal Plan

Princess Boot Camp Rapunzel Week Disney Fitness Blog
Created with Canva

Rapunzel is a young girl who was taken from her family as a baby and raised by an evil woman in a tower. She is a hopeful dreamer who thinks that there must be something beyond the borders of her little tower. She is a trusting, happy soul who never once stops to question why she has to stay in the tower in the first place.

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This week, we are focusing on Rapunzel as represented by Disney Studios in Tangled. If you are unfamiliar with the original, more gruesome version…look it up. That is not the one we are focusing on, but it’s interesting to read the original fairytales and wonder, how in the world Disney saw the happy, romance in such cautionary tales? I pose that question to you.

But aside from that, we are talking Rapunzel. She of the impossibly long and enchanted hair. For our meal plan this week, we’re getting creative. This is probably a province of England, though no one has accents…so choosing a menu based on region proves a little more difficult this week. Instead we are focusing on foods that are inspired by the movie Tangled and foods particularly helpful in promoting healthy hair growth.

Here’s our shopping list this week:

-angel hair pasta (get it!)

-flaxseed (great addition to smoothies and yogurts)

-Fruits (blackberries, apples, strawberries, etc.)

-Spinach and/or Kale

-Brussel Sprouts and Green Beans

-grilled Chicken, pork and/or beef

-Hazelnut Soup (Rapunzel’s favorite)

-beans and nuts (for extra sources of protein)

Like I said, this shopping list is a little more whimsical than the other princesses. I hope you enjoy it!

#PrincessBootCamp – Ariel Week Meal Plan

Princess Boot Camp Ariel Week Disney Fitness Blog

I made it through Cinderella Week, ready and energized to head into Week 2. If you missed all that Week 1 had to offer CLICK HERE.

Week 2 I looked Under the Sea to Ariel:

Princess Boot Camp Ariel Week Disney Fitness Blog

Now, to be honest with you, while I have loved the movie, The Little Mermaid, since I was a little girl, as a grown woman I’ve got problems up and down with Ariel as a Disney Princess and role model heroine.

The Little Mermaid is the story of a mermaid princess who is unhappy in her royal circumstance. She wants to see what is beyond the borders of the ocean into the world of men. But guess what…she doesn’t have legs or the ability to be on land for extended periods of time. It doesn’t help that she saves a hunky sailor, Prince Eric, from certain death and falls instantly in love with him.

After making a deal with an evil octopedal sea witch, she is given mere days to make the handsome Prince fall in love with her or else doom herself to returning to the sea (where she lives, grew up and has a loving family.) The catch is…she must head to land with no voice to aid in her quest. That doesn’t stop Prince Eric from finding her on the beach, taking her into his home, almost kissing her and starting to fall in love with her. So many issues. And yet so many fun songs and memorable moments that have stayed with me from childhood.

Who among us doesn’t want to live the #mermaidlife? That’s not to say Ariel doesn’t have redeeming qualities. She has bravery and purpose driven ambition to see beyond her borders. These days we call that wanderlust. The whole ocean is her palace and yet she dreams of dancing and walking and strolling down the street. These things we humans take for granted. (That’s really stretching to give her redemption as a character, but hey, I tried!) Here’s a funny Buzzfeed post poking fun at this beloved Disney Classic (there is language in this post.)

Princess Boot Camp Ariel Week Disney Fitness Blog
Photo by Cristina Fowler @thelittlestfowler

Obviously for a Ariel Week Meal Plan, we’re gonna be looking to the sea. Here is week 2’s shopping list:

-fresh fish (tilapia, salmon, sea bass, grouper, etc)

-scallops

-shrimp

-lobster

-crab

-sushi is an option this week

-fruits (I stuck with more tropical fruits like starfruit, pineapple and mango)

-veggies (seaweed, lettuce, spinach, cabbage)

-coconut oil (for cooking)

-coconut and seaweed snacks

-fruit infused water

There are extensive debates about a typical mermaid diet. Would Ariel have eaten fish and lobster given that her two best friends were a fish (Flounder) and a lobster (Sebastian)? You can decide for yourself if you want to go ocean vegan or not. I didn’t. Lobster best friend…look away!!

Whether you go vegan or not, may I specifically recommend these delicious vegan snacks as options this week: Go Raw Coconut Crisps & Sea Gift’s Roasted Sea Weed Snacks. I tried to stay as natural as I could, but sometimes throughout the day you just need a crunchy snack. These 2 products are delicious and won’t ruin any progress you’re making.

#PrincessBootCamp – Cinderella Week Wrap Up

Princess Boot Camp Disney Inspiration Fitness Plan Blog Series

Cinderella Week Princess Boot Camp Fitness Blog Disney

One week can’t change your whole body. One week isn’t enough time to meet aggressive goals, like the ones I’d created for myself. But one week can start you down a better path. One week can wake you up to a better life. I don’t like to call this a diet…it’s not one. It’s a lifestyle. Now, am I going to live like this for the rest of my life? No. Will this work for everyone? No. Did I find success doing it? Yes. And the point is to share that success with you!

Because when I created it, I had no idea what would happen. But I learned that my success came from diving in with both feet and taking this challenge seriously. Success came from constantly staying in a Cinderella state of mind through my Food Plan, Fitness Plan, Movies and Music, and Fashion choices.

As I mentioned in my introduction, I gave up weighing myself for the whole of this 8 weeks. So, I can’t tell you how much weight I lost after the first week, but I know my arms felt stronger from cleaning and weeding and lifting. My legs were pleasantly sore from stairs and dancing. Sugar had no hold on me after this week and while I continued to take each day as they came, I started to believe that I could meet the goals I’d set for myself. It felt like I’d really created something that ensured a successful outcome for me. As a major league Disnerd, a fitness series based on Disney Princesses is right up my alley!

Next Post: Ariel Week Begins

#PrincessBootCamp – Cinderella Week Meal Plan

Cinderella Week Princess Boot Camp Fitness Blog Disney

Starting is always the hardest part with it comes to a new fitness plan. At least for me it is. Months of eating poorly and choosing Netflix over any strenuous physical activity had left my body in very poor shape. I live in a 2nd floor apartment and stairs were quickly becoming my nemesis.

At the start of 2017, I chose the word “Believe” as my word of the year. I picked it at a time when I was having trouble believing in anything, myself least of all. But I saw this challenge as a chance to start believing again. And for the next 8 weeks, that’s what I did. I dove into #PrincessBootCamp with both feet and I started to believe that I could do things I hadn’t done in a long time, believe that I could do things I’d never tried before!

As I said in my introduction post, I’m in a different place than I was when I was an #AvengerinTraining and repeating what worked then simply wasn’t an option. So a new series was born.

Week 1 I focused on Cinderella.

Cinderella Week Princess Boot Camp Fitness Blog Disney

Cinderella is the story of a girl who loses her mother, then loses her father and is left in the care of her evil stepmother and stepsisters. She is basically held captive by these uncaring women and with little love or compassion, is left to a life of slavery and cruelty. Her socio economic status makes it impossible for her to break free from this household.

Being the kind-hearted, optimistic young women she is, Cinderella takes each challenge as it comes to her and never lets it make her cruel or bitter herself. She is a hard worker who spends plenty of time dreaming of what could be. Does she dream of princes? Yes. But given her situation in life, and her view of the palace, can you blame her? It’s a tangible representation of the life she could have, if only…

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Photo by Cristina Fowler @thelittlestfowler

Cinderella spends her days in the kitchen cooking for her “family,” in the garden working her fingers to the bone. She does the chores in the house and she makes sure everything is in working order. If there is back breaking work to be done, it falls to Cinderella’s slender shoulders and do we ever hear her utter one complaint in most of the movie adaptations? One bitter invective? No, we do not. This Princess is kind and persistent and she does not let the circumstance of her life change her kind heart. Now, that is something to aspire to!

In an effort to channel Cindy for this first week of #PrincessBootCamp I created a meal plan for the week based on what a 19th century peasant girl might have been eating at the time. My shopping list looked like this:

-whole grain bread (the cheapest kind)

-butter or low cost jams

-oatmeal/porridge

-eggs

-inexpensive cuts of meat (ie: ground beef, chicken, whatever is cheapest at the market)

-greens (brussel sprouts and spinach)

-apples, blackberries, raspberries

-water, water, water

-tea

Monday through Saturday, I adhered strictly to the above list and DID NOT DEVIATE…can I tell you what a win it was to make a plan and stick to it. Even for 6 days. It was a bloody triumph!!! Now the amount of food I ate from day to day varied. With an elevated level of activity, some days I needed more energy than others. And since all the food on my list was good stuff, I felt perfectly fine not counting the calories and just trusting my body. I also gave up weighing myself for the whole 8 weeks. In fact, I encourage you to do the same with any fitness plan you take on. That scale becomes a crutch very quickly if we let it. Don’t let it!

On the seventh day, I let myself go to the ball and I indulged in a delicious piece of chocolate cake from my favorite place in Winter Park: The Briar Patch. In order to fully embrace your inner Cinderella, you have to accept that home girl probably got her eat on at that ball, despite what we see on screen! I think she would have taken the chance to taste something delicious at some point in the night. Even if she was short on time and dazzled by a handsome prince! Think what you want…I choose to believe in the power of cake!

Next up: Cinderella Week Fitness Plan

Paradise Found

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a girl surrounded by her bestest of friends is the happiest of people. UNIVERSALLY ACKNOWLEDGED. And I’m not talking about your run of the mill acquaintance here…I’m talking deep, unfailing friendship.20170224_140811.jpg

The kind of friends that tell you “Those shorts do not work with your ass.” They tell you “No, no, no the bangs look great with your face, you’re overthinking it.” They tell you “He is not worth your tears, girl. Save ’em for a better man!”

These are the friends that will stand the test of time. When other friends fade away…they will remain. I am blessed to have a handful of these “Forever Friends.” And last month I got to spend a weekend in Miami with two such gemstones. Check it out…

Ladies' Weekend 2017

There were a lot of options going into Ladies Weekend 2017. Last year (Ladies Weekend 2016) we ended up in sunny Orlando, Florida. Home of the happiest place on Earth, Hogwarts and yours truly. And we had a blast, check it out. So…the bar was pretty high. We waffled between New Orleans, Las Vegas, Mexico and even Paris made an appearance as a viable option, given that flights were only $400 round trip when we were looking. But in the end we decided to hit up Cristina’s home town…Miami! Another sunny vacation…not too shabby.Miami Florida Diplomat Beach Resort travels

I’ve mentioned this to you before, blog readers, but I am a summer girl!! 100%. All the way! The thought of spending a vacation anywhere where the temperature might drop below 75…no thank you! (Talk to me next year when we hit London for Ladies Weekend 2018.)

Cristina is the planner of the group. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love planning too, but we are very different sort of planners and this was her hometown, so the agenda was all hers with some input from Erin and I. But it’s best to visit a town with a local. You can see all the cool spots you might miss if you are doing the tourist thing. So Cristina hooked us up with a home cooked meal at her childhood home. (Dad makes a mean sangria!!)

We also hit Coral Gables, Coconut Grove and of course… SOUTH BEACH!! Erin’s mother-in-law got us a SICK deal on a casita (way better than a cabana) at The Diplomat and let me tell you something, we felt like Queens! We had a personal server and about 5 other employees that made the rounds to check on us throughout the day (Thanks Leo, Cassandra, Jeff, Josh and Danny!) We ordered drinks and fancy lunch and swam and laid in the sun. This is the best way to spend any day, I am convinced. And a day spent like this in the presence of beautiful friends…well that’s where the Paradise Found part comes in!!

Yeah…we did a bunch of other stuff. We went to Cristina’s home church on Sunday. We did little photo shoots for an upcoming blog project I have in the works. We made a pilgrimage to Instagram mecca, aka Wynwood Walls. We ate ALL THE FOOD!! We even tried to hit up South Beach’s night life, but the weekend proved too strong for our dance moves and we tuckered out at around 11:45pm and hit the hay instead of the dance floor. (Don’t even think of calling us old…the sun took it out of us! I blame the sun!)

Wynwood Walls Miami Florida travels blogger

All in all, there were so many things that made it a perfect weekend, but the thing that will stay with me is hanging with my squad for a full 3 days. We each live in a different state these days and quality time is hard to come by. We do our best with phone calls, Google Chat, texting, Snapchat (life saver), Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. But who are we kidding…it’s never going to be enough. Our lives have us moving in circles far from the ones we moved in when we lived in New York together and tore the town upside down whenever possible.

Does our current reality diminish what was? Of course not. I think it just serves to make those shining moments of “togetherness time” shine a little bit brighter and causes us to hold onto the new moments we create a little big tighter.20170226_131405.jpg

See you in London next February, my beautiful friends!!