Why Aren’t There Seat Belts on this Thing?!

It has been said that the best part of getting healthy is the journey. If you enjoy the journey, and you don’t focus too much on how quickly the results come, then you’re on the right track to making serious and permanent changes to your lifestyle. My thoughts? It would be easier to enjoy the journey if the road wasn’t so flippin’ treacherous! Unfortunately, it’s happened to all of us. Likely, more than a time or two. We research, we prepare, we get on a roll… and then fall flat on our faces. No matter how hard we try, we just can’t seem to stay on it. We want it bad enough, so why is it so hard? We’re presented with “bumps in the road” almost every day. Even if you’re like me, and you have your weekday routine locked tight; it’s the weekends that get you. So, how do we keep a little slip-up from spiraling out of control? Or better yet, once we’ve spiraled, how do we get back ON the wagon?

Searching through pictures on my phone, I came across some accountability photos I took a little over a year ago. I was in the zone then. I worked out 5-6 times a week. I was eating clean (well, most days). I had a goal to reach, and I was working towards it. I had it all planned out. I would work my way towards my short term goal – to fit into my maid of honor dress – and carry on until I reached my ultimate goal, which was to lose 50 lbs and improve my overall health. Even with my routine and all that focus, somehow, I didn’t make it. Oh, I fit into the dress… just as long as breathing was kept to a minimum. Even before the wedding day, I had lost focus, and it has been a battle to get “back on the wagon” ever since. Sure, I can come up with a ton of excuses as to why I didn’t reach my goal. It was the holiday season! House hunting was SO stressful! The packing! The MOVING! We’re remodeling our kitchen; I can’t cook a THING! The truth of the matter is, that’s LIFE. It happens to all of us. So, why is it easier for other people to keep up the good work while the rest of us face-plant?

The simple (and, I’ll admit, a bit annoying) truth is, you just have to do it. You have to commit. Not just one epic, life-changing moment, but commit every day. You have to wake up every morning and make a conscious decision about what you’re going to do for yourself that day. Is it hard? Absolutely. We’ve conditioned ourselves poorly. We’ve made the wrong decisions for so long that they have turned into our version of normal. These bad decisions create bad habits. Habits that are so ingrained into our brains and our bodies that they become reflexes. Have you ever done something without thinking about it at all? Like driving home from work; have you ever gotten home and not remembered a thing about the entire drive? Those are the kind of reflexes I’m talking about. The automatic choices you make because you’ve been making the same choices for YEARS, and you can’t seem to shake them. It’s like a reset for your body to go back to the “normal” way of doing things, which is why it’s so easy to fall off the wagon. It’s also why it seems exponentially harder to find your way back on every time.

The best way to fight bad habits is to build better ones. The best way to do that is to make a point to pay attention to what you do every day. I’ve read and heard from multiple sources that it takes about 30 days to build a new habit. In my personal experience, I have found that this is not the case. Perhaps, it would be if all I were doing was building a new habit, but I’m not. I’m also breaking bad habits – habits that have evolved into reflexes – and it will take significantly more than a few weeks to reverse them. This is why paying attention to your daily decisions is so important. You have to KNOW and SEE the things you’re doing wrong in order to consciously make them right. The more in tune you are with your decisions – the more present you are – the better you will become at stopping those reflexes and building better habits.

The most important thing you can do for yourself while trying to get back on track is to stay accountable. But how? Well, you know those pictures from a year ago? They were going on my social media; specifically Instagram. I also had Angie as my personal accountability partner. She made sure to constantly check up on me with regards to my workouts, especially if she didn’t see any activity on my feed. Maybe this method works for you, or maybe you need a buddy to do it with you, or an app to track intake and output. I have quite a few apps on my phone that I’ve used over the years to track my health and fitness. I tend to try new ones all the time to see which ones work best for my routine. If you’re not so technologically inclined, you could create an accountability group with your friends and/or family members who are on the same journey. The group dynamic is great for feeding off each other’s positive energy and helping each other through rough patches. No matter which it is, find a way to stay accountable that works best for you. Communication is key. Let people KNOW what you’re doing. Don’t internalize your journey. If you are the only one holding yourself accountable, it’s easier to slip up – or give up altogether – than if you have someone you trust keeping you in line. This journey is yours, but you are not the only one on it.

So, here’s to us, with the dirt smudged on our faces from the many falls we’ve taken. We know what’s best for us, and we’ve worked hard to try to get there. Results elude us sometimes, but we still strive for change. We know it will come. All we have to do is hop right back on.

Melissa

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Adele is Returning to Us…

This morning brings amazing news… I opened up Facebook to see the post below from Adele’s certified account…

  
Commence squealing in uncontainable excitement… Adele is returning to us!!!

Just Stop… and Think…

What happens when you try to make a computer or phone do too many things at once? It freezes. It slows to an abysmally slow pace. It doesn’t function to its’ maximum potential. Errors occur.

The same can result in the overload we all currently have on our minds. We suffer from brain overload.

From the moment we open our eyes, our minds immediately go into overdrive. Our days are filled with errands, work, family, meetings, deadlines, schedules, relationships, interactions and technology. We have happy moments and extreme stress. Our bodies respond and we either don’t function at our maximum potential, or we just stop wanting to do anything at all.

As studied by the American Psychological Association (APA):

“When stress starts interfering with your ability to live a normal life for an extended period, it becomes even more dangerous. The longer the stress lasts, the worse it is for both your mind and body. You might feel fatigued, unable to concentrate or irritable for no good reason, for example. But chronic stress causes wear and tear on your body, too.”

Let’s be realistic. In order to achieve big goals and make big dreams come true, we aren’t going to be able to shut out all of the distractions that surround us. We are now part of a generation that experiences text message notifications, news bulletins, phone calls, game requests, email notifications, alarms, reminders, direction instructions, health reminders, bank notifications, and much more… and that is just from the small device in the palm of our hands.

The APA has a list of recommendations to help reduce the stress and overload. One recommendation is to give your mind a rest! With having so much on our minds, we tend to not truly rest at night. How can we remedy this?

Just stop… And think…

Dedicate some time every week to unplugging from all of the distractions. First, give yourself the space and environment you need for peace. Find a quiet area in your home, visit a tranquil park, or find an intimate coffee shop. Next, make sure you don’t rush yourself. Allow your mind to wander. Have a pad of paper and a pen near you to write down any notes/thoughts you feel are important and do not want to forget. Write down your thoughts and once you are done, you can strategize how you can tackle any issues or problems that are weighing on you. Most importantly, do NOT have any distractions such as a phone or television near you. Fifteen to thirty minutes a week is a great start to help you relieve some of the stress and overload on your mind.

Give this a try this week and let us know if it helped you with some of your brain overload!

http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/stress.aspx

Moving Mishaps

Moving. It’s a part of life. Arguably, one of the worst parts. I haven’t met a single person that actually LIKES to move (and I don’t think I ever will). The truth is, whether it’s a room or a house, moving sucks. Whether guy or girl, we simply have way too much STUFF! And no matter the time you take, the steps you go through, the “great advice” you follow, or how many friends you invite over for a “moving party,” it never seems to be a pleasurable experience.
Since we’ve recently moved into our new home, I will share with you some of my biggest blunders while moving, in the sincere hopes that it will help some of you avoid the pain I had to endure.
1. Don’t pack after getting home from work. Seriously. What were we thinking?! In an effort to get as much done during the week as we could, we thought it would be a great idea to pack a few boxes of non-essentials throughout the week. Sure, it sounded like a great idea at the time. Only, what’s the first thing you want to do when you get home from work? I’ll give you a hint: NOT packing. Take a day, take a weekend, take a whole week! Just don’t ever think that you’ll get out of work with enough motivation to get some packing done in the few hours you finally have to yourself.
2. Don’t enlist friends who don’t want to put in work. Ok. I know these are your friends, your besties, the people that tell you all the time that if you ever need something, they got you. But honestly, it’s not their move. Plus, they probably hate packing just as much as the next person, and you probably only offered pizza and beer. The truth is, we all have plenty of friends that say they’ll help, but in reality they’re just trying to be nice and secretly hoping deep down inside that you never ask them for it – because, let’s be honest, we’ve done it to some of our friends ourselves. You probably have one, maybe two friends who you can really (and I mean REALLY) count on for the heavy shit – both literally and figuratively – and those are the friends you can call on for ACTUAL help. These are the ones that will follow your system, take initiative, and kick you in the ass when you need a boost to keep moving. These are the ones that will make sure things get done because it’s for you, and that’s the only reason they’re there to help.
3. Don’t pack crap. This one’s pretty self-explanatory, but let’s recap anyway. I THOUGHT I was being really good about getting rid of stuff we didn’t need in our new home. The truth of the matter is, after a couple weeks of “trying” to sort and pack everything, I got fed up and just boxed up whatever was around. If I wasn’t sure I was going to need/use/want it, I packed it up and brought it with me anyway. What was the result? I ended up packing crap. It has since turned into “garage crap” or “extra room crap”. Do yourself a favor, get rid of everything. If you know you’re looking for a new house, start getting rid of stuff you don’t use the MINUTE you start to look at listings. Don’t wait until two weeks before your lease is up. Start now.
4. Don’t assume one label is enough. Have you ever seen a “Fragile” box that was only marked on one side? Neither have I. So why did we assume labeling our boxes on the top was enough? I have no idea. Even now, we still have boxes that just say “Kitchen” in the garage with no idea what it ACTUALLY is. Is it food? Is it cookware? Cups? Plates? No one knows! Label your boxes on ALL sides. Be specific. This way, no matter which way the box is facing, everyone knows what’s in it. This also makes unpacking easier because you’ll know what boxes to put away first. (Related tip: If your penmanship is more suitable for writing prescriptions, try pre-printed labels. You could also try color coded labels to see things at-a-glance.)
5. Don’t pack your closet. Wait. What? Yes, don’t do it. At least, not the conventional way. This is actually something I did right and I saved a ton of time and space doing it this way. Now, when I say “closet”, I mean your clothes only. What we did was get heavy duty trash bags and we bagged the clothes like they do at the dry cleaners (with more than just one piece per bag, of course) and tie them at the bottom. We would grab them by the hangers and stack them in the truck to transport to the new house. Benefits: your clothes are still on their hangers and protected from dust during the move, there are fewer boxes taking up space in your truck, and it’s easier to put all your clothes away once you get to your new closet! Setbacks: you have a ton of trash bags with holes in them. (Related tip: I also don’t pack drawers that have clothes. Take the drawers out and load them in your car while the moving truck takes the furniture piece.)
6. Reserve a truck ahead of time. It might sound like a “duh” thing to do, but guess what…. yeah, that happened. Did you know that the most popular time to rent a moving truck is the last weekend of the month? Do you want to know why? Because there are hundreds of people all over the city with leases ending that are using the last weekend to move to their new place. Can you guess when we decided to move? Yep, that’s right. The last weekend. So please, reserve your truck ahead of time. If you want to avoid the weekend hassle altogether, then move right smack in the middle of the week, when people are busy working.
7. Hire movers! If you don’t want to have to worry about any of the steps above, then hire movers. I had priced a couple of places and considered it more “cost effective” to do it ourselves. It was going to cost a fortune! Yea… well… thinking back, I would have paid that and then some to be rid of the never-ending headache it was to move into our new house. There are companies out there that literally do it all. They’ll pack it, load it, take it to your new place, and unload it for you! If you know you’re going to move soon, start a fund for your movers immediately. It will take a lot of the pain out of moving.
8. Don’t forget, you’re not just moving your things. It doesn’t hit you until your boxes and furniture are cluttered all about the house. You’re tired from all of the heavy lifting, the long drive, the back and forth of it all. All you want is a shower and to cozy up to some take-out and a rerun of your favorite show when you realize… you forgot to transfer the cable service! In our case, we had to cancel our original provider and schedule an installation. (We assume the previous owner of the house never watched TV a day in her life because there hadn’t been cable here for over 20 years.) Services like power and water are usually the first ones you think of when you move, but don’t forget the services that make your life easier. This is especially important if you have small children – we went through movies like water before we were able to get our cable connected. Make sure to schedule the cancellation/activation or transfer of these services at least two weeks ahead of your moving date to allow for appointment scheduling. This way, you can have your new house and enjoy it too.
Melissa

Feel Good Fix – October 2015

Nowadays it’s nearly impossible not to feel overloaded, stressed out, or just simply like you have no time for yourself. There’s no time to stop, relax, take a break; but the everyday hustle can be detrimental to your mood (among other things). So, we’ve decided to help you find ways to improve your mood with our monthly Feel Good Fix! Think of it as a monthly homework assignment… for yourself. You can do it just one day out of the month, or every single day if you can. It’s all up to you and when you feel you need that extra boost of happiness.

This month, we’re starting simple – talk to someone that makes you laugh. We have all heard that laughter is the best medicine, so lets put that medicine to good use! We all know someone who we can rely on to put a smile on our face. Perhaps it’s a sibling, a friend, or a coworker. Whoever it may be, take a couple minutes out of your day to talk to them. You might think, couldn’t I just watch a comedy for laughs? It’s not the same as a one-on-one conversation with someone you know and can relate to directly. You can’t depend on something scripted to make you laugh to the point of tears – but you might know someone who can do just that. Take a few minutes today, or some time this week, to reach out and connect with someone that makes you genuinely laugh and feel happy. Leave us a comment and let us know how it helped lift your spirits! 🙂

NACA Part Three – My Experience from Beginning to Almost End

In this final installment of my experience with NACA (the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America), I will review the steps I went through after our mortgage counseling.

After many months of budgeting, planning, taking care of open credit report issues, ensuring all bills were paid on time, and most importantly, saving – my husband and I were finally able to say we had checked off all of the “to-do’s” on our action plan.

This. Was. Not. Easy.

It was WORK to budget and stick to that budget. It was WORK to make sure all of our bills were paid on time and that the right amount of money was going into our savings account monthly. It was WORK to negotiate with creditors or have errors on our credit report corrected. Although this was a lot of work, it brought about a growth, maturity, and unity in my relationship with my fiancé. We were working diligently to ensure that we had a solid start to our marriage and a solid foundation to grow upon.

The application process was a few weeks of stress and panic. We had to make sure all documents in our file were up-to-date. As previously mentioned, one of the standout differences of the NACA program was that they underwrite upfront for an APPROVAL, not a pre-approval which is standard with many conventional and FHA loans. At the time of our application, it was a bit of a hectic time as the bank that backed the loans for NACA was being transitioned from one institution to another.

We signed a STACK of forms. No sarcasm. A STACK… I should have hugged a tree as I left the office since a tree gave its life just for us to have a STACK of mortgage application forms to sign.

We followed up frequently. (Don’t be THAT person that follows up every two hours. Be reasonable.) We QUICKLY submitted documentation that was requested of us. It was nerve-wrecking. Let’s be honest. You are being judged. Not only are you being judged, it is by someone you have never met or seen before and you don’t have an opportunity to explain, encourage, or separate yourself from the crowd. Yet, when that approval comes in… It is OH… SO… SWEET. You feel as if you have overcome a major hurdle. You finally have a sheet of paper with your name and a bank’s name on it, and that sheet of paper says that bank will back you for a mortgage.

NACA requires that the realtors used for the house hunting process take a course and be registered with NACA, as the realtor needs to be familiar with the restraints and style of mortgage provided by NACA. We requested a realtor we had met at a NACA event and hit the ground running.

House hunting is NOT easy in South Florida, especially when you are on a budget. I will not bore you with the details, but I will give you the facts that you need to know…

  • NACA allows you to use 10% of your mortgage amount for repairs/upgrades to a home (so long as that additional 10% falls within your approved mortgage amount).
  • NACA does not allow you to incentivize a buyer on your offer. You can’t say, “Hey… we’ll pay you an additional 1% in cash at closing.”
  • Most importantly, NACA does not allow you to take out a mortgage above the appraisal amount. This is logical, but since NACA doesn’t let you pay (even out of pocket) above the appraisal amount this becomes an issue, especially in hot real estate markets where most people offer above asking price.

Here is what happened with my fiancé and me: We made an offer on a home of approximately $260,000, and the owner accepted that amount. We went through the inspection of the home (which was passed with flying colors), and then we moved on to the appraisal.

That is when everything basically fell apart. It was the downfall of the process. When the appraisal came in, the house appraised for approximately $235,000. NACA would only approve a mortgage for the $235,000 appraised amount. The $25,000 difference was too great of an amount for us to negotiate down or come to an acceptable agreement with the seller. The seller was adamant on selling for $260,000.

My fiancé and I had to walk away from purchasing a home about a week before we would have closed. It was also the week of my fiancé’s birthday. It was also exactly 4 months before our wedding. For approximately 2-3 weeks, we were about as depressed as you could get.

The fault in my situation is that NACA should not be used in hot real estate markets where buyers are a plenty and sellers are scarce. In our market, it is very common for homes to go for slightly above appraisal. Additionally, NACA’s appraisal dispute department was a nightmare to deal with. We had an extensive list of comparable homes that reflected the home was worth more than $230,000, yet they were not trying to find a way to help a customer who has worked so hard and had also referred several friends to the program.

There are certain neighborhoods where sellers outnumber the buyers. In THOSE markets, I’m sure NACA is most effective. The buyer can set the terms with the sellers.

I’m sad to say that my fiancé and I were not able to buy a home. Because it was so close to our wedding, we had to rush to find a place to rent. A year later, we are still renting. It’s a vicious cycle, yet we are already preparing ourselves to buy a home in a year or so using all of the lessons we have learned.

NACA was a great program and a great experience, but for our specific situation, it was not a happy ending.

-Angie

Mommification

How often do you see them? A mess of lopsided pony tails, yoga pants, loose-fitting shirts, and diaper bags. Fabric literally engulfing them to the point of looking like a walking pile of laundry. Sneakers or flip flops carrying them from errand to errand until they collapse at the end of the day. I call them Mommies. Or should I say us? I call US Mommies. Sure, we’re blessed with beautiful, bouncing bundles of joy. But along with those bundles comes Mommification – when you realize that you’ve somehow slipped into a state of perpetual “blah” when it comes to clothing, shoes – just style in general.  We don’t mean for it to happen, but it does. Your appearance is secondary to the little life you’ve created. Comfort and mobility are crucial if you’ve got a toddler to chase after. You’re just. too. tired.

There are some of us that seem to do it all while still maintaining an impeccable appearance. But as for the rest of us – we need help! The first thing you need to remember is that they’re just clothes! We shouldn’t dread getting dressed – like, putting on ACTUAL pants. But what if things just don’t fit like they used to? They won’t. And that’s okay! But please don’t resort to that drawer full of workout clothes, or worse – lounge wear. Listen, I’m all for spending a day in your pj’s, but if you’re leaving the house in something that’s meant to be worn Sunday mornings relaxing on the couch, then we have an issue. Find pieces that fit well and make you feel put together. For new moms, choose pieces that are easy to clean and are made of a good quality fabric (for all the extra washes they’ll have to go through). Hang these items in the front of your closet. When you start to get a handle on life with kids and you’ve created a schedule for yourself, find the time to inventory the items you have that can be added to this new section of your closet.

Now, I’m not going to tell you what to wear – wear what you like! If it makes you feel good, go for it. The more put-together you look, the better you’ll feel. One of the reasons new moms go through postpartum depression is because of all the changes that just happened to their bodies. Dressing in a manner that accentuates this feeling only makes it more pronounced, causing a vicious cycle. I’m not saying that if you get all dolled up post-baby you’re guaranteed to eliminate postpartum depression. There are many other hormonal and environmental factors involved as well. But it’s a drop in the bucket to work towards feeling like yourself again – which is the main goal.

The most important thing every mom (new or not) needs to know is that just because you’ve become a mom, it doesn’t mean that’s all you are. You are much more than just one piece of you, even if it’s a really huge piece. You are also a daughter, a sister, a friend, a teacher, a student, and anything else you want to be. And if you loved getting all dolled up pre-baby, then you’ll definitely still love it post-baby (you just have to play around with the pieces a bit).  Being a mom is another part of you, another hat you wear, and you should pair it with a great outfit!

Melissa