There are days that I wish I was still a teenager and could eat whatever I wanted without gaining a pound. Sadly, those days are gone for us and in order to stay fit and healthy, we need to make an effort.
Regardless of how many times you have restarted your fitness journey, I have three proven ways to push you in the right direction. These are the three things that have helped me stay on track since I restarted my personal fitness journey this past winter. How’s it working you ask? Well, I’ve managed to lose 20 pounds. I’m not saying it hasn’t been hard or that I haven’t had my fair share of setbacks, but these three things I’m about to share with you have made the difference between recommitting to my goals or giving up when I hit those setbacks.
Signing up for group fitness classes is the single most helpful thing I have done for myself on my fitness journey. Having different classes scheduled throughout my week makes it possible for me to build my workouts into my schedule and gives me that healthy sense of guilt when I skip a class. I personally schedule 4 different classes a week to target all of my different muscle groups. Even if these classes are the only time you go to the gym, you are still getting to the gym 4 days a week.
I admit that sometimes the guilt of not attending a class isn’t enough to get me out of the house. This is where my accountability buddy (or in my case, my husband) comes in. When I started my fitness journey I told my husband to only let me skip the gym once a week. That means going to the gym six days a week. At first, it wasn’t hard to get me out of the house and to the gym, but as it got harder and harder to lose those pounds, my enthusiasm waned. That’s the importance of having someone to hold you accountable. Sometimes my husband has to drag me out of the house kicking and screaming, but I still get to the gym. When you are about to give up on yourself your accountability buddy can help you refocus on what’s important.
Unfortunately, our diets also have to be a factor in our fitness journey. Eating healthy or, at extreme least, not overeating is an important piece of making sure we meet our goals. This is where I’m going to introduce you to the piece of technology that has helped me stay on track. Lose It! is an app that helps you with every aspect of your fitness journey, but especially when it comes to your diet. When you sign up you fill out your age, gender, weight, and fitness goals. Then the app creates a special program for you. You can log your food by just scanning barcodes or adding things manually. Plus, you get badges when you hit different milestones like losing weight, logging regularly, or exercising regularly.
These three things are the only things that keep me on track some days. However, your own fitness journey might require other systems of accountability. Wherever you are on your journey, I wish you luck as you move forward and remind you to never give up!
The 4th of July is right around the corner, and that means it’s time to break out those summer activities! Whether you plan to celebrate on the 4th this year or the weekend before, there are tons of cheap and fun options for making the most out of our independence day.
So, without further ado, here are seven cheap and exciting things you can do to celebrate our country this summer!
Just because you’re hosting a party doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of money. Make your 4th of July BBQ a potluck. You provide the backyard and make the burgers and have your friends and family handle the rest! What better way to celebrate than to spend time with those closest to you?
You could go out and buy your own fireworks, or you could just attend one of the many free firework displays taking place nearby. Not only is it much cheaper to go to a local display but chances are that their fireworks will also be much more impressive. Get there early with your blankets and chairs and spend time soaking up the summer before the show starts. You can turn this into a double activity by getting there early and…
Whether you are bringing a dinner picnic to your local fireworks display or packing a lunch picnic for a nearby festival (see #5!), picnics are always a great option for celebrating the summer. Pack some sandwiches and maybe even mix up some sangria and hit the road!
What summer would be complete without taking part in a festival or two? Luckily, the 4th of July is a prime chance to attend free festivals all over the country. Hop on Google and search for 4th of July celebrations near you, chances are you will find at least a few fun excursions the weekend before this great holiday.
The 4th of July is a prime time to get to watch local brass bands, symphonies, and philharmonics for free. See what instrument groups are performing nearby and take a trip to your local bandshell to take in the show (picnics are often a great option for these concerts as well)!
Are you reading through all of these choices and just thinking, “eww. I don’t want to deal with all those crowds”? If so, what about hosting your very own Patriotic Movie Marathon in your own wonderfully air-conditioned home? Pick out some of your favorite patriotic movies, pop some red, white, and blue popcorn and settle in for a quiet celebration at home. Stumped on where to begin? Here are some movies to get you started: National Treasure, Saving Private Ryan, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Glory, or Capitan America.
Regardless of how you choose to spend your 4th of July this year, I hope that you celebrate by enjoying the things that you hold most dear and remember all of those who have fought to keep us free.
Everyone knows the importance of loving yourself, but it is also something that we forget and neglect to do on a regular basis.
Just think about it. When was the last time you thought something positive about yourself like, “I am so good at keeping the clothes folded around here”? Now, when was the last time you had a negative thought about yourself like, “Why can I never be on time”?
It seems far easier to be critical of ourselves than it is to think of the positive. This reminds me of the “Magic Ratio” made popular by Dr. John Gottman. If you don’t know what the Magic Ratio is, this is how it works. The ratio is 5:1, as in, you need to have 5 positive interactions with your significant other for every 1 negative interaction to maintain a stable relationship. Now, I know we aren’t talking about relationships with others right now, but I think this logic still applies.
To have a healthy relationship with ourselves, we need to remember to think of the positive more than the negative. It’s like a muscle that we have to strengthen. So today I have a challenge for you. Every time you notice yourself thinking something negative about yourself, try to think of 5 positive things about yourself. Doing this will help you remember that you are truly unique and beautiful, both inside and out!
To dig into some other ways to not only embrace but also express your own unique massive beauty check out our Co-Founder’s most recent project by clicking on the image below!
Have you ever had one of those days where you sit down in front of your computer at work and suddenly it’s lunch time and you’ve barely gotten through all your emails? Or when you get home and sit down for “just a moment” to relax and suddenly it’s time for dinner? I feel like we all have these dilemmas that make us feel unproductive.
Which brings me to the point of today’s post. Today I will give you 5 easy things you can do to instantly boost your productivity at work or at home. Let’s jump in:
Whether you are sitting at a desk at work or sitting on the couch at home, you need to get up. It has been proven that people who exercise on a daily basis are more productive than those who don’t. So take a walk around the block, go to the gym during lunch, or even just take a lap around the office. The important thing is to get your body moving in order to kickstart the rest of you.
It is easy to waste your morning on mundane tasks, but if you decide to focus on your hardest task of the day first, you are more likely to complete it (and everything else on your list) sooner.
When you feel like you’re hitting a wall, stop! Taking breaks is actually a good thing. Someone who takes short breaks throughout the day will be far more productive than someone who stays chained to their desk. Sometimes your brain needs a break in order to find out a new way to do something, so do your brain a favor and take it.
At this point, we have all been told that multitasking is actually less productive than focusing on one thing at a time and yet, for some reason, we keep multitasking. Make an effort to focus on at least your main tasks on a one-by-one basis.
Making something routine is a great way to boost productivity. You can make it part of a routine to take breaks, stop multitasking, or even focusing on hard projects first. When it comes to my personal routines, I have a secret weapon and today I am going to share it with you!
My secret weapon is an app called Fabulous. This app helps you turn anything into a routine. From making your bed each morning to blocking out distractions at work, Fabulous can help (and the best part is that it’s entirely free)!
For example, I have a set of 7 “habits” that I complete each morning. The app starts with an alarm at a certain time each morning. That’s when you start your “habits”. There is a timer for each habit and once the habit is complete you click a big, satisfying button. Once you have made it through your routine the app congratulates you and you continue with the rest of your day. Try it for a few days and you will see just how productive (and fabulous) you can become!
This time of year, everyone seems to be dreaming of taking a vacation. Well, today I thought I would give you my current home as a travel suggestion.
I have lived in Colorado Springs for about two years and when I have friends and family come to visit I become an unofficial tour guide. So today I’ll be your tour guide and walk you through EVERYTHING that is worth a trip to Colorado Springs.
First, I’ll give you a little context on why Colorado Springs is so unique and then I’ll jump in and go into detail about the six types of attractions that I consider “can’t miss” and some of my personal favorite options in each of those categories. So, without further ado, let’s start exploring Colorado Springs!
The first thing you will notice upon arriving in Colorado Springs is Pikes Peak. Nicknamed “America’s Mountain”, Pikes Peak is the only 14-er visible throughout the Springs. It looms over us wherever we go, and we love it. It isn’t the highest mountain in Colorado by far, but it is unique because it stands alone in the Springs, meaning it isn’t part of a range with lots of larger mountains and, therefore, sticks out more.
Speaking of the height of our mountain, the elevation in the Springs is probably much higher than you’re used to (no pun intended). Throughout town, the elevation fluctuates between 5,740 ft and 14,115 ft but averages out to about 6,035 ft (or 1.14 miles) in town. This means that you should remember to drink lots of water and moisturize because when you become dehydrated you will start experiencing altitude sickness, and no one likes that.
The beauty of nature in the Springs really is awe-inspiring. For example, did you know that the woman who wrote the song “America the Beautiful” was actually inspired to write the song while she was visiting Colorado Springs by train in 1893? Beyond this example, countless authors and artists have been inspired to write some of their best work in Colorado.
Another fun fact, the US Olympic Training Center is in Colorado Springs (plus the headquarters to 24 US National Federations for various Olympic Sports). If this interests you, stop by the training center for a tour!
I’ll leave you with two other quick notes on the Springs and then we can get into the really fun stuff!
First, there are five separate military sites in Colorado Springs, although there are three main ones. There is the Fort Carson Army Base, the Peterson Air Force Base, and the US Air Force Academy. That being said, don’t be surprised when you see TONS of military walking around town, it is perfectly normal to see someone in uniform running into the grocery store to grab some dinner on their way home.
Second, be aware that you CANNOT trust the weather forecasts. There have literally been multiple days in the past few years where it has snowed, hailed, and rained and then has gotten up to 75 degrees and sunny all within the SAME DAY. One of the meteorologists in the Air Force told me that Colorado Springs is one of the hardest places in the world to predict the weather (because of our mountain) and even when they do the science 100% right, they still have a 50% chance of being wrong. How do we handle this crazy weather? We try to be prepared. Layers are your friend, try to keep an umbrella in your car, and, if the weather gets too crazy, remember that it never lasts long.
There are endless trails, parks, and mountains to explore while you are visiting, but there are six places that I consider “can’t miss” above everything else.
WOW! After all of those adventures, you’re going to be hungry. Don’t fear, Colorado Springs is chock-full of amazing local food. I always tell my friends and family when they visit that we could eat out for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day and still not have a chance to try all of my favorite restaurants in town before their trip is up.
○ Mountain Shadows Restuarant – This is a great little place, but get there early because the locals love it! My suggestions: the cinnamon roll (featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives) or the Reuben Omelette – it might sound weird but it is delicious!
○ King’s Chef Diner – There are two locations for this place, one is smaller but shaped like a castle and very cute, the other is downtown and a little bigger. Regardless of which location you go to, there is almost guaranteed to be a wait. But it is so worth it! When you look at the menu, pay attention to the different sizes you can order. Keep in mind that a 1/4 order here is about equal to a normal-sized order anywhere else! My favorite is The Grump while my husband jumps back and forth between The Thing and the Breakfast Burrito (be sure to get the green chili – locals will put green chili on everything).
○ Paris Crepe – They have both sweet and savory crepes so you can really eat here for whatever meal you wish. Plus, it is a great place to stop in when you are shopping downtown. My favorite is the French Crepe, it’s like a Nova Bagel!
○ Omelette Parlor – This is a unique find. The Omelette Parlor is actually the home where a movie star, Ruth Etting, retired in 1893. Since then it has been turned into a restaurant, but you can still tell that it was once a home the second you step inside. I love their skillets, try the Continental Divider Skillet or the Mount Elbert Skillet for something truly delicious.
○ Bonus: Snooze – So there are no Snooze’s in Colorado Springs, but I make a point to stop at the one in Lone Tree whenever I am picking someone up from the Denver Airport. I actually make my family and friends fly in early in the morning so that we can get breakfast at Snooze on the way back to Colorado Springs. If you are flying into Denver, I strongly suggest you do the same. What should you get if you stop in? The Bella Bella Benny. Hands down. That being said, they have some pretty out of this world pancakes as well!
○ Mona Lisa Fondue Restaurant – When was the last time you went out for a fondue dinner? Chances are, it has been a while. Mona Lisa Fondue is located in downtown Manitou Springs and is a great choice for a fancy night out. Make sure you make a reservation, don’t be afraid to upgrade your courses, and don’t skip the dessert! It is promised to be worth it.
○ The Rabbit Hole – This is a truly unique dining experience. First of all, it is underground. The entrance looks like a subway entrance with a door. After winding down the staircase, you reach the restaurant, which is entirely Alice in Wonderland themed. From the paintings on the wall to the menu, you will find references to Alice in Wonderland everywhere. Be sure to get a reservation if you want to experience this – they fill up VERY fast. If you want a good cocktail, try The White Rabbit. After all, who doesn’t love flaming marshmallows?
○ TILL Kitchen – The Till is a relatively new addition to Colorado Springs and my husband and I absolutely love it. It is highly environmentally friendly, even their tables are made out of local pine trees that were killed by beetles. They also try to get all of their food from local farms that are committed to sustainability. Not to mention how delicious all of their food is. This place fills up pretty fast on weekends so I would suggest a reservation here as well. What’s my favorite thing on the menu? A drink called By Way of Bees – I promise you will be in for a pleasant surprise.
○ Edelweiss Restaurant – Are you German? Or do you at least enjoy German food? If so, you cannot miss Edelweiss. This family-owned, authentic German Restaurant has been around for over 50 years and lives up to its name. You dine among endless German decor and they even have strolling musicians on the weekends. It fills up fast, so get a reservation here as well. If you want an appetizer, both the Brie and the Potato Pancakes are amazing! However, all dinners come with a German side salad so you won’t be going hungry if you skip the appetizer.
○ Briarhurst Manor – Okay, this is my last suggestion that requires a reservation (and probably needs a reservation the most of all of the places I’ve mentioned). This is another place that used to be a home and has been transformed into a wonderful restaurant. It is also located in Manitou Springs but is a bit separate from downtown, so there is plenty of parking. This home was built in 1876 by the founder of Manitou Springs. A little-known fact is that this fancy restaurant and popular wedding venue is also considered one of the most haunted houses in the area. The good news, all of these spirits seem to be friendly and, if you ask, you may even be allowed to explore the manor after dinner looking for your own spiritual encounters.
○ Alchemy – This is a small pub in Old Colorado City with unique food and even more unique cocktails like the Cotton Candyland or the Walking Dead. Stop in for a bite (or just a drink) while shopping.
○ Bad Daddy’s or Skirted Heifer or Bingo Burger or Crave – So there are a LOT of good burger restaurants in the Springs and, honestly, you can’t go wrong with any of the ones I listed. Bad Daddy’s is a sit-down place with a sports bar feel and create-your-own burgers. The Skirted Heifer and Bingo Burger are right next to each other in Downtown Colorado Springs and are very small (you might want to get your burgers to go). Finally, Crave is located in a shopping complex on the north side of town. If you want to see burgers as big as your head, Crave is your best option. So, regardless of what atmosphere you are craving, we have a great burger place for you!
○ Rudy’s BBQ – If you didn’t know any better, you would drive right past Rudy’s. It almost looks like a truck stop with a gas station attached and everything. But don’t let its appearance deceive you, it is the best BBQ in town. I always get the Pulled Pork Sandwich, while my husband always gets a few Breakfast Tacos.
○ Jack Quinn’s Irish Pub & Restaurant – If you want some good Irish food, look no further than Jack Quinn’s. Located in Downtown Colorado Springs, it is a great place to enjoy the evening. Their food is delicious (I especially love their Irish Nachos) and they have live music almost every night of the week.
○ Thunder & Buttons – Located in Old Colorado City, this is a delicious local pub. The pub was named after two elk that used to drive around a local to the various bars in town in the 1880s. This is a really friendly place with various weekly events to check out in the evenings.
○ La Baguette – Last but not least, if you look right next door to Thunder & Buttons you will find La Baguette. This is a perfect place to grab a quick lunch in between shopping. If you want to feel like you stepped into Paris, look no further. I personally enjoy their French Onion Soup.
First of all, if you’re still holding on after all of those restaurants, I’m impressed. Now, food and nature aren’t all that the Springs has to offer. If you enjoy shopping, you’ll love it here – you just need to know where to look. Sure we have endless shopping centers as well as two malls, but the really great finds aren’t in any of those places. Here are my five favorite shopping areas:
By this point, you might be wondering, “what doesn’t Colorado Springs have!?!”. Well, to be honest, I’m not really sure. You can have just about any experience you want here and what better way to show that then for me to share my six favorite adventures that you can have while here?
If these six adventures aren’t enough, there are even more options out there. Adventures Out West alone also offers Jeep Tours, Segway Tours, Guided Hikes, and Van Tours.
Regardless of what time of year you choose to visit, there is bound to be a great event going on. Check the Colorado Springs website to find out what is going on in town when you visit, but, if you can, here are my favorite events that happen in each season in Colorado Springs.
Another fun fact about Colorado, we love our beer. There are literally HUNDREDS of breweries in Colorado and almost 50 of them are located in the Springs. If you love beer, spend a day jumping from microbrewery to microbrewery, but even if beer isn’t your thing, there is one brewery that you should make sure is on your list of things to see in the Springs.
The Bristol Brewing Company was founded in 1994 and today their beer is available almost anywhere in the state. But that isn’t the cool part. The Bristol Brewery has a pub inside their facility. That’s not the cool part either. Their facility is an old elementary school built in 1916. Now, that’s the cool part! You can stroll through the old school and still see the children’s murals on the walls. Stop by the Principal’s Office for a mixed drink or bring your furry friend to the Bristol Patio to enjoy some of their newest (and most famous) types of beer. As a bonus, make sure you stop by the bathroom when you’re there (trust me, it’s worth it)!
Whew! There you go. You are now prepared to not only visit Colorado Springs but also to truly soak in every unique aspect of the area that you wish! If you want a cheat sheet for the area, click on the infographic I made for you below – each suggested activity is hyperlinked to its website!
If you’re still hanging in here, I’ve got an extra surprise for you.
You know that Bishop Castle I mentioned at the bottom of my infographic? It is a very fun trip. You can climb to the very top of each tower (although it isn’t the safest and is at your own risk).
Some people even use the main room on the second floor for their wedding ceremonies! The owner/builder is currently working on adding an elevator so everyone can see this sight. And it will always be free to the public.
It really is something you should see if you don’t mind the trip. Here is a picture of the castle for you to get a better idea of the amazing feat of building this by hand.
Now, go enjoy yourself!
To thank you for being an awesome father (or even for taking the time to thank your own father for everything he has done), we have a special gift for you.
Today I am bringing you another quote from The Back Forty archives. Take a moment to read through it and, as always, I’ll see you on the other side.
First and foremost, if you don’t know what we mean when we say “Back Forty” take a moment to click here and learn what “Back Forty” really means.
Now that we have that sorted out, let’s look at the quote. As we move into (and through) midlife, it is important to do an inventory of where we are and who we are in terms of unique gifts and talents. You might think, “I’m a parent,” “I’m a husband (or wife),” or even “I’m a [fill in your job position here]“. But here at The Back Forty we want to dig deeper.Everyone has gifts and talents. But when was the last time you actually took the time to take stock of those gifts and talents?
What have you learned by working your way through all of your current and past roles? Why are we where we are at this current point in time? What brought us here? And most importantly, what are the gifts and talents that I’ve picked up along the way?
Everyone has gifts and talents. But when was the last time you actually took the time to take stock of those gifts and talents?
As you have been growing older, you have also been building skills and discovering talents that you didn’t possess when you were younger. Some of your talents were created by conscious planning while others you developed through a necessity.
By taking stock of those new gifts and talents that you have built, you have the chance to find new areas of interest and exploration that you didn’t even realize were an option before.
You’d be surprised at how many possibilities exist for a person to reinvent their life focus. By discovering all of your gifts and talents, you make it possible to purposefully choose the direction you want to head towards next. Take some time and discover what your second half of life has to offer!
“But why?” you might ask. Well here are 5 startling statistics about smiling:
If you’re looking to kickstart your smile, here are a few of our previous posts that are guaranteed to put a smile on your face:
Wherever your day takes you (or has taken you) today, just remember to smile and that everything really will be alright.
“Nothing great is ever done without much enduring.”
-St. Catherine of Siena
There’s always a next level up we’d like to see in our lives.
More fulfilling career. Greater experience of relationship. Improved health and well-being. Fit finances. Ability to contribute and make a difference. Something to aspire to.
It’s the hanging in until we reach the prize that presents the rub.
A personal area for me has been the development of valuable content and offering helpful ideas to others in a social media world of lots and lots of noise.
You can’t look at Facebook without being barraged with sponsored ads. Since more people are online vs in front of the TV as in the past, the online world is busting at the seams with advertising.
So, bringing a new and innovative message out inside a room of louder and more experienced mouths presents its challenges.
We all know the story of Abraham Lincoln, and how many supposed “failures” he had to rack up before becoming President. We all know how many “failed” light bulbs hit the waste bin before one burned for Edison.
Throughout history, there are countless examples of how endurance paid off. This is what I remind myself.
Yet, when the seeming “Fail” button lights above any of our dream endeavors, what will make up the rope to keep us climbing?
Here’s a few strands of thought to consider:
One strand might be the palpable and visceral depth of the desire…which we don’t diminish just because we haven’t gotten there yet.
Can you imagine if Lincoln or Edison had made it mean something about them when they hadn’t “succeeded” yet? If either had gone the route of beating themselves up or just figuring that they are a loser, what would our lives look like now?
In The Back Forty, we say “you have yet to do what you came here to do”. If that’s the bandwagon you want to ride with us, then it means you must put all your past assessments of yourself and what you’re capable of where they belong: in the past.
A desire rooted in infinite possibility, vs already-decided determinations of our capabilities, is what will pull us.
Another strand might be the mindset that all of “this” is simply what there will be to look back upon after having succeeded. Remember: lost elections, dud bulbs.
Rather than looking at each “failed” attempt as an actual failure, what if it’s all research and development?
In The Back Forty, we actually propose that the whole first half of life is only R & D anyway, giving us laboratories and experiments so as to develop our own Formula of Unique Self Expression (FUSE).
So, with our past behind us and only research and development continuing ahead of us, we are unlimited in what we can truly accomplish.
A final strand may be the affirmative answer to the simple question: “Are you having fun along the way?”
Doing something because we love to do it, growing in the face of adversity and challenges because there’s no more fun game to play…those emotions keep us engaged.
If what we’re doing – whether we’ve found the “secret” to achieving our goal or not – is having us grow in the ways we want, there’s value. Regardless of the “results” showing up yet, if we’re whistling while we work towards our dream, the tune and tone of success is present.
So, I’ll keep enJOYing my Self as I put out my message, learning better ways to do it, and know that, if the intention to contribute is pure, the light developed in this lab will eventually burn for others too.
How will you braid your own rope to pull toward your next level up?
“I have discovered in life that there are ways of getting almost anywhere you want to go, if you really want to go.”
In The Back Forty, we say you have yet to do what you came here to do.
If you’re here to play a yet bigger game – no matter what you’ve accomplished thus far – it will take you learning, growing, enduring and enjoying in new ways and mindsets.
Our 3-Day Back Forty INFUSE Program Ignites a New Formula of Unique Self Expression within you so that you use your entire first half of research and development to point you toward a playful, passionate and purposeful second half.
Check out The Back Forty INFUSE Program and join us for our next course on August 18, 19 & 20th here in Los Angeles. Use Coupon Code “SUMMER17” at checkout to receive a $200 tuition discount before June 30.
Today I want to give you a reminder to PLAY!
It is far too easy to get caught up in our responsibilities and forget to take some time to play every once and a while. So today I’m bringing you the below quote to remind you to play from time to time. Take a moment to read it and I’ll meet you on the other side!
Have you ever thought of play this way before?
Chances are, most people haven’t. When we are working, being responsible, and doing things the “right way”, chances are we are not playing. Many people would say, “so? When I’m working, I shouldn’t be playing.” Well, this quote seems to be arguing that pretty well.
Many companies are beginning to build in time to their employees’ schedules to work on projects that they WANT to work on because companies have realized that employees who are being encouraged to be creative and have fun at work (in other words, PLAYING) are more productive and happier.
The same holds true for your personal life. When you find yourself playing instead of “fitting inside the lines” you are far more likely to become inspired and have revelations about who you truly are.This is what our Co-Founder, Alexandra Levin, believes and why she wrote the IMBUE Journal.
This is what our Co-Founder, Alexandra Levin, believes and why she wrote the IMBUE Journal. To learn more about what Alexandra thinks about playing, as well as many other topics, click the button below!