life lately — JUNE

I know I’ve been pretty good at consistently posting (it’s about time) but it’s been a minute since I’ve actually updated on things going on so I thought a quick recap of the month of June was in order!

The first week of June ended with a quick trip to my boyfriend’s hometown where he taught me how to shoot a gun (I was better than I thought) and we attended two weddings within a span of 3 hours. No complaints cause 2 times the weddings = 2 times the cake.

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we’re a bit sunset-obsessed, even when they’re in WM

 

The following weekend, I drove to my apartment for a little downtown and a 90s themed bar crawl that was both interesting but definitely fun!

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acid wash and scrunchie for the win

 

I returned home after for a few days of work before going BACK to my apartment Wednesday (once again) to meet my boyfriend so we could leave for the beach with his family. We went to a Keith Urban concert (my fourth yet favorite one) and had some low-key, high-quality beach relaxation time!

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while at the beach, I was able to reunite with one of my good friends from school!

 

The next couple weeks consisted of work and chilling at home until I headed back to my apartment for the long fourth of July weekend. Even though this technically isn’t the month of June, I’m going to include those festivities as well!

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temperature is hotter than it appears

 

Friday was dedicated to celebrating Beau (boyfriend) and I’s one year anniversary. I started the morning with a really nice run on the levee before making my way to his apartment. It was a very special night and included our favorite thing – ice cream! Beau surprised me by taking me to watch the sunset on the levee with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. #dreamlife

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what heaven looks like^^

 

The next day, my family had a huge Fourth of July pool party that included all of my favorite people, like this little boy!

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Lastly, to celebrate the Fourth even more, me, Beau, my cousin, and a bunch of his friends went Tiki Tubing for about 6 hours. Unfortunately, I have no pictures but just take my word that it was super super fun!

Looking back, I realize I spent a lot of June driving. But considering it was all to see places and people I love, I’m okay with that!

It’s Time to Stop Being so Busy

I’ll be the first to admit that I thrive on being busy. I get an odd sense of joy as I cross things off of my to-do list. However, always being busy leaves little time to do things I enjoy, such as binge-watching Gilmore Girls all day. It seems like today, being busy is looked at as being successful and taking time to relax and do nothing is looked at as being lazy. If we find free time, we feel like we’re forgetting something on our never-ending list of things to get done. The mentality of just wanting to finish that to-do list leaves us in a mindset of just “getting stuff done” rather than whole-heartedly doing the things you need to do. We need to put meaning back into our everyday activities.

But how do we make ourselves less busy when there is always so many things to get done? Between work, family, friends, trips, and other things, this summer has been my least relaxing one yet. I’d be lying if I said that trying to organize my to-do list leaves me more stressed out than it should. Sometimes it feels like the faster I finish that list, the more successful I am (which is silly because as long as it gets done, all will be okay).

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In an effort to decrease my heart rate every morning as I look at what I need to do, I’m trying to organize my to-do list in a different way. First are the top priorities. These are tasks that need to be done today, like turning in items for work, paying rent, taking a shower, etc. Next comes tasks that I would like to get done today but won’t kill me if I don’t get to them, like cleaning my room, going to the grocery store, or packing for an upcoming trip. While those things need to get done, they aren’t mandatory and can be put off until tomorrow (or the next day…) if need be. Last on my list are things that definitely can wait until another day. I will survive if I don’t have time to paint my nails before going out or stock up on sunscreen before going to the beach. Organizing it this way helps to ensure that the most important and time-relevant items get done first and, by realizing that trivial things do not have to be done today, I stress about them less and don’t worry about getting them done today.

Another tip to help chip away at that to-do list? Keep distractions far away. With social media constantly at our fingertips, it can be hard to resist the urge to see what other people are doing. If I had a dollar for every time I told myself I was getting on Instagram for “five minutes” only to end up looking at pictures of people I don’t even know, I’d be a very rich lady. Make a goal, like completing 3 tasks or working distraction-free for 30 minutes, before taking a social media break.

Last, learn to monotask. Recent studies have shown that multitasking is not as beneficial as we believe it to be. By working on three things at a time, it will take you twice as long to complete just one of them. By focusing on one task at a time, you can put all your energy into it, helping you to finish it quicker and to the best of your ability.

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By waving goodbye to the idea that always staying busy is the answer, we can accomplish more of what’s important, stress less, and end up having more time to relax.

How to Tell True Hunger

Hanger is a real emotion and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Not to sound too dramatic but I may or may not have shed actual tears from being hangry. I get particularly hungry in between meals, especially after lunch when all I want is cookies. A lot of times, though, I’m just bored and want something to nibble on. There are many factors that contribute to a growling stomach but boredom is not a real one. How do you tell the difference between true hunger and just the “munchies”?

Make sure you are eating regular meals throughout the day. Eating normally and at a somewhat maintained schedule can help keep you from craving crazy things. Even if you’re running in and out the door for meals, it is important to make them as healthy and filling as possible.

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At the end of a long day, sometimes I want nothing more than dessert for dinner. While that’s okay sometimes, it is not something to indulge in often. Sometimes our feelings and emotions can be masked as hunger. Feeling tired, sad, or even extra happy can make you desire food. Next time you reach out to munch on something, think about if it’s because of the way you’re feeling or true hunger. If you really do need a snack, keep healthy ones in full supply. I’m not sure when “snacking” got looked at so negatively, but I for one cannot survive on three square meals alone. Snacking between meals is not something to feel guilty for. Just make sure to eat healthier snacks, like fruit or trail mix, instead of candy or chips. If you’d rather not eat than eat an apple, then you probably weren’t hungry in the first place.

Drink enough water! So many times, we are not truly hungry, but just thirsty. Before grabbing a snack, chug a glass or two of water and see how you feel. Odds are, that was all you needed.

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Lastly, try keeping a food diary for a couple of days to see how often you graze without realizing. Writing down your meals can show you what you’re craving and when those cravings hit, making you well prepared for the next time. If you find that you’re always reaching for a bag of chips around 3, then plan ahead and have healthier alternatives, like roasted almonds or veggie chips.

Properly fueling our bodies is what keeps us alive and prosperous. One of my favorite quotes is “eat to live, don’t live to eat” because it reminds us that food should not be a controlling factor of our day but rather a way to nourish and take care of our bodies.

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Lifelong Friends

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In honor of one of my best friend’s (since kindergarten!!) birthday this week, I felt compelled to meditate on how lucky I am to have kept such close ties with her after all these years. Not only with her, but even so with the friends I have made and kept from high school. Yes, college provided me with even more friends and experiences for which I am forever grateful, but the relationships I created and maintained since before college hold a special place in my heart.

I’ve discovered that the saying, “You’ll find your real friends in college” to be exceptionally true. It amazes me how God has given and taken people in my life, all for the better. I have come to terms with that fact that I have grown apart from certain friends from the past; we lead different lives now and that’s okay. Yet it amazes me even more how I still have friends from high school, even middle school, that I have grown even closer to as college progressed. And to me, that is truly beautiful friendship. A special bond is formed between the people you kept around during middle school and high school; we’ve watched each other grow. We experienced the awkward “dating” period where you didn’t actually talk to the person you were dating, shared in the excitement when we could call friends on our new flip phones, and carpooled to the crazy Friday nights of high school football. Just the same, as we go through college, we continue to grow together. We celebrate dating new people, mourn together over breakups, keep each other company when studying, and tailgate for home games.

There’s just something about sharing the same hometown, high school alma mater, and memories of the past ten years with someone. I can easily fall into a conversation about things or places back home, how family friends are doing, and reminisce on memorable high school teachers we’ve come across. Even more, because we all grew up in similar settings, with similar schedules, we all share similar morals and beliefs. These are the people who keep me accountable in going to church, who, because they’ve been by my side growing up, know what to say and when to say it when something is wrong, and the only ones I’m comfortable enough to bring on week-long family vacations. It is these friends, especially those that have followed me to college, that made college more homey.

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Since college has started, I’ve found people who share the same beliefs and morals that I do; I’ve also grown apart from those that didn’t, and I’m finally okay with that. The people I have in my life are exactly the people I need right now — they’ve seen me in my worst and in my best and love me all the same throughout.

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Healthy Beach Snacks

There are few things better than sitting on the beach, intoxicated by the smell of sunscreen, squishing sand between your toes, listening to waves crashing. The beach is my absolute happy place, just as most people. However, just like most other people, I get anxious at the thought of donning a skimpy bikini and walking around people in it. To ensure I feel my best, I work out and try to eat as best I can in the weeks leading up to each beach trip.

This past weekend, I was lucky enough to go on a quick trip to Gulf Shores, Alabama for some much needed relaxation. Due to the fact that this trip was smack in between attending a bar crawl and a demanding work schedule, I wasn’t feeling my “best” and was trying to not think about that upcoming swimsuit. In hopes to feel my best even while on vacation, I decided that I would keep my beach snacks as healthy as possible therefore making room for an ice cream indulgence on the way home, of course.

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It’s so easy to just throw a bag of chips or granola bar in your beach bag and call it a day. But if you want to feel your absolute best while lying in the sun, try a few of these healthier options that are just as convenient!

Celery and carrot sticks. I know most people hate celery, but I actually really like it. And I really LOVE carrots. All you have to do is cut the veggies up (or buy them pre-cut) and throw them in a plastic bag. There you have a snack packed with antioxidants that help prevent pre-mature skin aging – super important when basking in the sun all day!

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Just the same, fruit of any kind is a great and simple snack. Throw some fresh cherries, strawberries, or sliced peaches together for a refreshing snack. Even easier? Grab a whole apple or banana and throw it straight in your beach bag – no chopping necessary! Although arguably the best “beach” fruit has to be watermelon. Fruit is a great source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber; fruit also has high water contents, helping you to rehydrate after sitting outside too long.

Needing something a little more filling or more of a meal? Make healthy wraps or sandwiches to bring down to the water with you. Use your imagination to make any combination your heart desires. Suggested ingredients: lettuce, tomatoes, chicken, turkey, avocado, and carrots.

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Nuts of any kind – almonds, peanuts, pistachios, etc. are another simple snack to grab and go when running down to the beach. Nuts provide a good source of necessary healthy fats which can help you stay full and satisfied longer. You can even make your own trail mix by mixing together nuts, dried fruit, pretzels, and a few chocolate chips for a sweet punch.

Keep that beach bod looking good (and counteract all those Pina coladas or these really good 30A beers) with some healthy, satisfying, and nutrient-dense foods!

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When You Share a Sorority with your Sis

A sorority provides you with many things – fun events, opportunities to volunteer, help with classes, and new “sisters”. All of this was what I expected and what I received when I joined my chapter freshman year. Fast forward two years and I found myself beginning my second round of recruitment; but this round was different. This round, my little sister would be rushing. After experiencing college without her for two years, I was more than ready for her to join me. And while I hoped she would decide to join the same Greek organization as me, I would’ve been content with her making her own choice. We are just as different as we are similar and I knew our relationship wouldn’t have been affected by our Greek letters.

Well, much to my delight, she did decide to join me in Chi Omega and, as expected, I was so ecstatic to show her why I Chi O meant so much to me. Being only two years apart in age and having only each other to play dolls with, the two of us are pretty close. We grew up side by side and experienced every family high point (like moving to a new house) and low point (like that one time we lost Joey for a week). It was always an inside joke the she tagged along in whatever I was doing, regardless of who it was with. It was weird being apart for those first two years of college when we had been living together all our lives.

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What I didn’t expect was how being in the same sorority changed our relationship and made us even closer. We ate lunch together at the Chi O house at least twice a week, we ran the lakes constantly, and decided which exchanges we would or not attend. My apartment became her escape from the dorm life and her meal plan became my excuse to not go to the grocery store. Initiation into Chi Omega became a much more meaningful experience for me because I could now share all the “secrets” or the sisterhood and experience more of what Chi O had to offer.

I know that it was comforting to her to have her older sister there to show her the way and help her understand the confusing aspects of being in a sorority. But I hope she realizes how beneficial she was to me. Having a piece of home just a few miles away was more comforting than I could ever imagine. I could unapologetically cry, even for no reason, and she understood and if I didn’t want to be alone, she provided company, even if we just laid in my bed watching old Disney movies.

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I think my parents were even more excited than we were, though. We could all be together for Chi O Family Night, formal, mother’s luncheon, and our dad/daughter day. Both my parents loved the fact that, when asked who their daughter was in the sorority, they got to give two names. Not only did my relationship benefit, but the four of us in my family grew even closer, if that was even possible.

Chi Omega has provided me with countless friends and amazing experiences, but I think that the way it has shaped the relationship between me and my sister is what I find most special. I’m so glad I got to share her freshman year with her (as well as re-live mine and pretend I’m not getting old).

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taking your workout outside

Summer is here and along with that comes a little freedom, the addition of swimsuits in your wardrobe, and rising temperatures. If you live anywhere in the south, those last two items may result in your desire to work out but your lack of desire to experience a heat stroke in the ever-present sun. spending more time outdoors, especially when trying to get in a good workout, is not necessarily a bad idea. Being in the sun decreases tension, anxiety, and stress, just like exercise does as well. But how can you make the most out of an outdoor workout without seriously hurting your body?

In addition to anything you would normally pack in your gym bag, be sure to pack lots of extra water. That being said, it is important to stay extra hydrated by drinking lots of water before, during, and after your workout to ensure you will not experience dehydration. In addition to that, make sure to take rests as needed and listen to your body to avoid overexertion or heat exhaustion. Working out outdoors may also present a few hair malfunctions – throw in some extra bobby pins and headbands to keep everything in place.

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Stay safe in the intense heat by not doing activities during the peak of the heat. Working out or playing outside during the morning or around sunset helps you avoid the hottest parts of the day. Training in extreme southern heat and this fine Louisiana humidity takes a lot more out of you than you are used to in a gym or cooler weather. Know that your body probably needs to move at a slower pace and will need time to accumulate to the warmer temperature. Wear clothes that are lightweight, light colored, and that have moisture-wicking capabilities. Stay away from tight, dark colored clothes (especially cotton) that will only make you hotter. Keep your skin protected from the harsh sun and prevent painful sunburns by applying a light coat of sunscreen before heading outdoors!Most importantly, listen to your body. Know when you need to stop or move back inside to ensure safety. Definitely take a break if you begin to feel dizzy, nauseous, weak, rapid heartbeats, muscle cramps, or if your skin becomes cool and clammy.

If you think that the outside is only good for running, think again! Anywhere can become your own personal “studio” with the additional of a yoga mat. Laying it on any outdoor surface can ease any discomfort from concrete or keep your hands clean from grass. Speaking of grass, use local parks to get a great (and free!) workout. There’s a park in my hometown with a huge field and track that I love to use. Most parks even have bike and walking trails that incorporate lots of inclines and declines. You can even utilize singular hills as a challenge sprint.

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Become a kid again and use the playground! Some of those things require more strength and energy than you would imagine. Use the monkey bars for pull ups and hanging knee tucks or use benches for step ups and tricep dips. Many people do not realize how much of a workout you can get just by using your own body weight.

Whatever you choose to do, taking advantage of the sunshine and free time that accompanies summer will make working out more fun. Just remember to stay hydrated, wear sunscreen, and know when to rest!

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Travel Diaries: Adventures in Austin

This past Memorial Day, I was able to visit Austin, Texas for the first time to attend my cousin’s wedding. Since the wedding was Saturday, my family and I decided to make a longer trip of it and left Thursday and drove back Monday morning. Being that it would be my first time to finally visit her there, I was so excited and, while we did not even scratch the surface of activities Austin has to offer, I got a good taste of how awesome the city is and have already started making a list of things I want to do on my next visit (which is hopefully very soon!).

 

On our first day, my cousin rented out a boat and planned to spend the day on Lake Travis for her rehearsal dinner. This was such a blast! Though it was a little overcast, I braved the freezing waters, swam in the lake, and listened to music on the boat. I also had a tequila shot forced upon me by my mom and aunt so there’s that too.

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That night, we went to a late dinner at the well-known Oasis. We missed most of the live music but we were able to dine outside on the lake and just enjoy the atmosphere and really good margaritas ;]

 

The next day, we ventured into downtown Austin to walk, shop, and eat. We strolled in and out of cute little shops, ate really good pizza till we couldn’t breathe, and, as typical tourists, we took pictures by the famous “I love you so much” wall. Because the wedding was that night, we didn’t get to stay out too long and headed back to our hotel to get ready.

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The wedding was not in Austin, but in Dripping Springs, Texas at a place called Camp Lucy. The venue was breathtakingly beautiful; it consisted of a bunch of buildings in the mountains, surrounded by tons of trees and forestry. Just the same, her ceremony was also beautiful and the reception to follow was filled with good food, terrible dancing, and lots of love and of course, champagne.

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Our last day there was spent mostly in Zilker Park and consisted of a little tanning, volleyball, and just hanging out in the nice open field.

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All in all, I had a wonderful first trip to Austin and cannot wait to go back to experience some hiking trails, more days on the lake, and hitting up 6th Street!

 

NYC Round 3

Just about 3 months over due…..sorry bout that. Here is a little recap/my favorite things we did on my 3rd trip to New York this past spring break. Shoutout to my boyfriend, Beau, for giving me the best trip/birthday present ever!

As spring break rolled out around this year, I was more excited than usual for a week off of school. I’m always excited to take a break from school and do the typical “spring break beach thing”, however this year was different. This year, I would be spending my spring break week in New York City, one of my favorite places in the world. Seeing as this was my third trip to the big city, I felt confident that I knew most of the good things to do, places to eat, etc. What I discovered was that there are so many unique non-touristy places and activities to do that ended up making this my favorite trip to New York thus far.

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One of the first nights, we went to a hockey game for the Brooklyn Islanders. If you’re able to do this, definitely check it out. I’ve never been to a large scale hockey game so this was a cool experience and the stadium is full of energy. 12417559_10204270573443388_6812502370013041870_n

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ice cream from The Big Gay Ice Cream Shop never disappoints

 

Also, we last minute decided to buy tickets for a comedy show that featured a bunch of up-and-coming comedians. If you can get past the inappropriate jokes, it is actually hilarious and very cool to see how these comedians get their start. It didn’t hurt that there was a 2 drink minimum for all attendants, making the jokes even funnier 😉 944916_10204270583763646_1691432918258113479_n

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views from the High Line Park walk

One of my favorite things we did, while it could be considered “touristy” was attend a Jimmy Fallon monologue rehearsal. I have a huge infatuation with him so this was obviously a big deal to me, but in all reality it was pretty cool. This isn’t the taping of his show but rather just Jimmy Fallon coming in front of about a third of how big his audience usually is, and going through his jokes for the actual show. It’s free so if you’re able to snag tickets, do it.

 

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The last night we were there, we attended a show called “Drunk Shakespeare”, something I feel I should explain. Basically, a group of actors drink and reenact a Shakespearean play with the addition of cultural references, dirty jokes, celebrity impersonations, and even some very bad dancing. This was, by far, one of the most interesting and entertaining things I’d ever seen and I highly recommend it.

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Last, and probably our favorite part, we hit up a happy hour every night. Pretty much starting at 4, which is right when you need a break from walking everywhere, we would pop into a random bar for a happy hour and just sit and chill, order food, drink, and rest for a bit. By doing this, you’ll discover a bunch of cool bars, new drinks, and take in different atmospheres, depending on where you are in the city. It also led to some fun conversations and new inside jokes between Beau and I.

This was, by far, my favorite trip to NYC — 3rd times the charm I guess! I’d be lying if I said I didn’t cry for 3 days after we got home because I never wanted to leave….This city has had my heart since my first trip there!

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Typical Holiday Health Myths

Ah the holidays. A time of (hopefully) cold weather, Christmas music, family time, and yummy treats. Unfortunately this is also a time when stress, anxiety, and unhealthy habits come into play.

While the holidays only come once a year and we should, of course, celebrate them accordingly, there are ways to stay healthy even before that New Year’s resolution.

In the quest to stay healthy, however, make sure you understand the truth behind these common holiday health myths:

  1. Myth: Americans gain an average of 5-10 pounds during the holiday season (Thanksgiving to New Year’s).
    • Okay, that’s a lot of weight. And unless you’re gorging yourself on half a pumpkin pie washed down with a tall glass of eggnog every night, you are not going to gain this much. On average, most people gain only about 2 pounds, something that can easily be worked off once January rolls around and your motivation soars. Indulge on things that are worth it and skip things that aren’t. freeze some of your favorite leftovers for a tasty surprise later in the year.
  2. Myth: You do not have time to work out.
    • Everyone is busy, especially during the holidays. If you’re like me or any other college student, the holiday season is nothing compared to your busy schedule during the semesters. Yes, cold weather makes working out (or moving for that matter) unappealing, but you’ll feel so much better! Simply doing 30 minutes of exercise each day will lower your stress levels and make you feel so much better about eating Santa’s cookies.
  3. Myth: If you’re already in good shape, you won’t gain weight over the holidays.
    • False. False. False. Even the most fit person gain fall off track and gain a little weight if they neglect exercise and throw caution to the wind in regard to their nutrition. Don’t lose all of your hard work. Indulge mindfully and remember BALANCE is the key word here.
  4. Myth: Whatever weight you gain, you can just work on losing it in the New Year.
    • Yes, eventually you probably will, but maybe not. Reflect back to what usually happens during the break of a new year – work and school start back up, schedules get busy again, and the cold weather is still there, only without the added appeal of Christmas coming. Resolutions are rarely ever followed through and those unhealthy eating habits are hard to break in the wake of an ending holiday. Keeping up with your nutrition and exercise from Thanksgiving to the New Year ensures that if you do gain a few pounds (which is likely to happen and NOT the end of the world), you can easily fall right back on track and enter 2016 guilt-free.

Enjoy the holidays and all the fun, laughter, food, and memories that come along with it! Just don’t put your health on the backburner; the side burner maybe, but not completely out of your mind.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!