My Joy List

This week in the Next 90 Days challenge with Rachel Hollis the theme is joy. Joy is something I work to cultivate in my life daily, so I love this topic. One of the homework assignments we had this week was to create a “Joy List.” Simply put, this is just a list of things that bring us joy. True, honest to goodness joy. The second part of the homework is after making your list, schedule time into your day for joy every single day. Yes, schedule it. Every 👏🏻Single👏🏻Day👏🏻

Now, your joy list will look different from mine, which is great because each of us has our own set of things that bring us true happiness. For a little bit of inspiration, I wanted to share mine.

Brianna’s Joy List

  1. The first sip of a really good cup of coffee.
  2. A fresh manicure
  3. Listening to my perfect playlist for whatever mood I’m in at the moment.
  4. Getting into bed and under the weight of my weighted blanket at the end of a productive day.
  5. A facial or a massage
  6. Makeout sessions with my husband 😉
  7. Long walks
  8. When the morning sun shines through the window
  9. Eating a really good dessert
  10. Reading a good book
  11. Singing
  12. When Gracie (my dog) cuddles up on my lap
  13. Fresh and hot roasted broccoli or brussels sprouts (seriously!)
  14. When I finish a big task (think “monthly action item” level in my goals planner)
  15. Broadway Musicals
  16. The smells of the different seasons
  17. Hitting my step goal for the day
  18. Laying out in the sun
  19. An emotionally satisfying ending to a show or movie
  20. Feeling confident in my makeup 💄 and clothes
  21. A good hair day
  22. Good, full-fat cheese
  23. A little bit sparkle
  24. A completed to-do list
  25. The smell of fresh laundry
  26. The feel of the foot warmer when I slide into bed
  27. Putting on PJs or a sweatshirt just out of the dryer
  28. My evening skincare routine
  29. Lighting a scented candle
  30. Workout clothes that make me feel like I look amazing

What are some of the things on your joy list?

5 Things I Still Do To Stay On Track In Quarantine

I will not lie to you. I am definitely starting to feel the quarantine blues or whatever it is you want to call this feeling. I’m sure you’ve had this feeling too. I’m on day 19 of self-quarantine. I’ve generally been super positive, productive, and motivated throughout this new normal…up until 2 days ago. That’s when the total lack of energy to accomplish things accompanied a complete lack of desire to do anything, and it’s a feeling I have not been able to shake yet. The quarantine blues also came with an insatiable appetite. If all of this had come a week earlier I could have blamed PMS, but alas, the timing is wrong so there is no good reason as to why I feel this way.

So what’s a girl to do? Well, to put it simply, I believe the way to overcome this is to do what I can anyway. I’m finding that there is definitely a balance that needs to be achieved between total normalcy and quarantine specific changes. Examples of changes I’m making to adapt to the what quarantine is making me feel are things like sleeping in a little bit (7:30 instead of 6:30), allowing myself more time to sit and read or take more breaks to just hang out, and making my step goal a weekly goal instead of a daily one to accommodate for days I just don’t have the energy or desire to get up and go.

There are also things that I am still doing every day, no exceptions. This is primarily to keep me on track with my weight loss during this time when everyone is joking about gaining the “quarantine 15.” My first goal of quarantine will be to NOT gain the q15, but maybe lose a little bit in the process.

That being said, among the weirdness that is life right now, here are 5 things I still do daily to make sure I am on track even while in quarantine.

1. Tracking

This is the most fundamental component of any weight loss plan (that works) pretty much anywhere. As I’ve mentioned many times before, I will likely be tracking my food in some way, shape, or form for life. When I keep track of what goes into my body, I lose or maintain. It’s only when I stop tracking my food that the scale starts to creep up and I lose control. Tracking (and staying within my calorie/Points/Bites budgets, obviously) is the number one key to keeping myself on track and headed in the direction of success. I will continue to track what I eat each and every day. Good days or bad days. Whatever comes my way. Track all the things!

2. Hydration

This list is back to the bare basics, my friends. Like it or not, drinking enough water is a major part of your body’s health. When you’re dehydrated, the list of problems goes on and on. Drinking water is easy ( CAN do it, you people who claim you can’t) and it’s so, so, SO good for you. Keeping my hydration up is one thing I’m doing with a daily goal of drinking a gallon of water (128oz) a day. Yes, it’s a lot, but my body feels great when I do it. Bonus: I’m running to the bathroom all the time to pee which means lots of handwashing. Take that, COVID-19!

3. Pre-Track My Food

If you’re having an issue staying away from the kitchen, this is gold. I’ve been starting the day figuring out what all of my meals will be for the day and tracking them in the morning. After my meals are tracked I can figure out what I want to do with the remainder of my daily budget. Then, I stick to the plan! It’s such a simple little thing, but it makes it so much easier to stay on track,

4. Workout

You had to know this was coming. I am committed to working out each and every day that I’m stuck in quarantine. I’m test-driving this idea for the month of April with the goal of moving my body for at least half an hour every day. This could be an “official” workout from the Beachbody app (currently my method for working out) or simply going for a walk for 30 minutes. Whatever the case may be, the goal is an intentional time of movement and not just movement related to cleaning the house. Even if you don’t have access to any streaming workouts or even all that much space, there is still something you can do to move your body. Get creative, but don’t tell me you can’t. You absolutely can!

5. Use My Intermittent Fasting Timer

The reason this post is getting written now and not later today is honestly that I needed something to pass the time while I wait for my IF timer to complete its 14-hour run. I use the app “Zero,” which is a free intermittent fasting timer, and I love it. Last night was the first time I turned it on in 16 days, and I can’t even tell you how empowered I felt last night clicking that “start fast” button once I finished my ice cream. I’m not a hardcore intermittent faster, but I like to do a 14 hour fast to give my body a break from food. If I can get to 16 hours (the standard fast is 16 hours fasted with an 8-hour eating window), I do it, but if not it’s no big deal. The purpose of using this timer is just to keep me from evening snacking and to encourage me to wait until I’m actually hungry to eat my breakfast rather than simply eating because it’s morning. Having a shorter eating window rather than the freedom to eat any hour of the day really helps me stay on track. This will be a key tool in my staying on track during quarantine.

All 5 of these are so basic but they truly are game changers and are going to be essential components to my staying on track during this weirdness that is life right now. Having a plan, whatever that plan may be, puts you back in control of the things you can control, so why not do just that? Take control and find success!

April 2020 Goals

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, I firmly believe that being in this weird season of uncertainty is not an excuse for us to let go of our goals, but instead, it is an opportunity for us to lean into this new normal and embrace the chance to accomplish our goals. This month, I curated my goals specifically through the lens of quarantine so I can take full advantage of this month of social distancing.

As you know by now, my goal planner is the Cultivate What Matters Powersheets. While the dated 2020 Powersheets are no longer available, a 6-month undated version is still on sale in the store.

The Powersheets have a tending list every month that help you curate action items that should help you work towards your big picture goals. There is a section for monthly, weekly, and daily action items. Monthly items are “one and done” tasks that you set out to do within the month, and they have a progress bar you can shade in as you make progress. Weekly items are tasks that you want to accomplish every week of the month. Daily tasks are items you want to check off every day.

Let’s dive into my goals for the month!

Monthy Action Items

  • Cultivate healthy and productive habits
    • Since I am home exclusively, this is the perfect time to put extra effort into focusing on how I use my time and refining my time management skills.
    • The plan: utilize timers and a set schedule for pretty much everything, including how many breaks I get and how long I can poke at my phone.
  • Office closet reorganization & declutter
    • The closet in my office is our home’s “Monica Closet.” It just happens to be where all of the stuff without a place ended up.
    • The plan: Purchase some drawer storage space and create homes for all of the random crap currently floating around in there.
  • Bathroom storage reorganization & declutter
    • My bathroom cabinets have become all cluttered up and unorganized. The plan is to clean them out, put things where they belong a get rid of random trash that has accumulated.
  • Kitchen cabinet reorganization & declutter
    • As you can see, reorganizing and decluttering certain areas of my home has become a priority, which is great because simplifying and organizing my environment is one of my big picture goals for 2020.
  • Purchase a jewelry armoire
    • This is for organizational purposes. I have so many accessories and my itty bitty jewelry box is not cutting it. Owning an armoire would allow for so much more organization of all my accessories.
    • This is the one I have my eyes on. 😍
  • Complete March finances
    • Obligatory to-do list item
  • Read 2 non-fiction books
    • Since I have more time and I’m working on prioritizing my time, I want to take my reading goals to the next level. Non-fiction during the day and fiction at night.
  • Read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
    • Yes, Harry Potter. I am SO PUMPED!
  • Read Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
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Revisiting Your 2020 Goals in Quarantine

Okay, so obviously 2020 is not going how any of us imagined it would be going at this point. If you’re like me, you decided back in December that 2020 was going to be the best year of your life. Big changes were going to be made. Big goals were going to be achieved. You would enter 2021 your best self having lost a few pounds, become an amazing homemaker, and achieved a few major career goals to boot. (okay, so those might be my personal goals, but you get the point) Yes, everything was all planned out perfectly… then COVID-19 took the world by storm and all of our routines, goals, habits, and motivations seemed to get swept up in the storm right along with it. Suddenly, 2020 was not looking so bright and filled with possibilities. Instead, it is filled with fear, change, uncertainty, and more fear.  I know, I’m right there with you, my friend, but I’m here to let you in on a little secret.

We can STILL make 2020 the best year yet!

I know about 60% of you rolled your eyes just now. “Shut up don’t know what I’m dealing with here!”  No, I don’t, but what I do know is this: our perspective dictates our reality. If you decide that this situation is going to sabotage all of your goals and just leave you a lifeless shell of a miserable person, well then guess what? That is exactly what will happen.

However, if you are able to switch this narrative around and decide that while this is not an ideal situation, you can still use it to continue to have that best year ever you promised yourself, well then guess what will happen?  That’s right! You still can have that best year ever. 

2020 isn’t doomed. It’s just different. I foolishly had myself believing that my goals were tied to everything I was able to do outside of the house. Being a homemaker, we all know that is just a bald-faced lie. Almost everything I do takes place inside the walls of my home, save errand running and going to the gym. I knew this, but I still felt totally blindsided by this quarantine and wanted to use it as an excuse to throw in the towel and take a few months off of making any progress on any of my goals, just like everyone else. 

Then I looked at my goals for a second. I have a card with my goals written on them taped to the desk so I can see them every single time I look up. All 8 of them are right there in my face ALL the time. As I started to consider what my 2020 goals actually were, I realized that no matter how much I wanted to accuse this whole situation of preventing me from being able to achieve my goals, the reality is this: every single goal I have this year can be achieved exclusively at home, while in quarantine. There are zero exceptions.

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Making Lemonade🍋

Our world is very, very strange right now, and that’s putting it way too lightly. The world, not just our country, but literally the entire world is in a situation that hasn’t really been seen before. We’re all in lockdown, self-isolated, self-quarantined, forced quarantine, the works! It feels like breaking the law just to run to the grocery store to buy food, and that’s not even possible in some cased because grocery stores have been picked over and much is out of stock.  Restaurants are takeout only. Schools are shut down. Jobs are work from home or for many have disappeared, causing much financial stress about how families are going to survive in this time of uncertainty. All because of this virus that is so easy to catch and less easy to manage for at-risk individuals.  It’s scary.

I’ll be honest, I seriously debated whether to say anything in my content about COVID-19 at all, but there is no hiding from it. We all are experiencing this craziness together in real-time, so I feel I have to say something, but it’s not going to be negative. There’s too much negative in the world right now. Too much fear, panic, and quite frankly too much of people being horrible people.  Granted, there is also a ton of humanity being great to one another, which is an encouraging thing to see, so don’t think for a second that I’m not acknowledging that as well. 

In the spirit of trying to keep things positive, I want to just take a minute to encourage everyone, not in the “this too shall pass” sort of way, but in the “we all have a crap-ton of lemons, why not make some epic lemonade?” kind of way. 

The truth is, like it or not, employed or not, embracing self-isolation or panicking about it, most of us are stuck in a situation we’d rather not be in. Yes, I am fully aware that there is a gigantic financial impact on many, and I’m not trying to downplay that at all, but if reality isn’t going to change we might as well embrace the situation we’re in and do what we can with what we’re currently given, right?

So, let’s make lemonade!

How can we fully embrace the opportunity we’re being given to slow down a little bit? What ways can we spend our time that will leave us coming out on the other side of this not feeling like we wasted the (maybe) months we were isolated? How can we make the world’s best lemonade out of these crappy lemons?

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The Friday 5 | 2/21/20

Hello and happy Friday! Welcome to the first Friday 5 of the new decade. I have a long list of blog posts planned for the not too distant future (shocker, I know!), but I wanted to start with a Friday 5 because I can just chat for a minute about what’s going on in my mind and what’s I’ve been loving or doing lately.

It’s been a week of me trying desperately to get a grip on all the things, but since I’m holding on to so many things are slipping through my fingers. We all know what that feels like. I’m just unsure how to play catch up at this point in time. It was a rougher week in terms of wanting to eat ALL the things as well, and I’m working on figuring out how to manage the pitfalls of this new year. It’s a process, I know, but I’m optimistic that I’ll be turning the corner soon, which actually leads me to my 5 things.

1.Lent 2020

I made a video just today about my plan for Lent this year and how I will be bringing the community the opportunity to do a book club together that will help guide us through our issues with food and help us grow closer to God in the process. We’ll be looking at the book Made to Crave and doing the study in a private Facebook group. If you want more info on the whole thing, my video is below.

2. The Real Dry Lip Savior

Guys, as of late I have become a believer in the one and only true winter dry lip savior of this world: Aquafor. Yes, I have all of these amazing lip masks and treatments that I still love to pieces, but for whatever reason, they’re still not enough to keep me from having flakey, uncomfortable lips, so I finally caved and bought Aquafor and BAM! All of my lip woes went away. It isn’t fancy and I don’t think it makes any special “clean” or “all-natural” lists, but it works! At this point that is all that matters.

3. Next Steps Establishing Community

Guys, this is HUGE. I have an official audition for the worship team at the church we’ve been attending. I’ve already passed the “send in a video of you singing” test and now I get to sing for them in person on Sunday. If I make this team it means that we will finally officially have a church to call home and we will finally be able to work on establishing ourselves in the church community, which means FRIENDS!!

4. Winter Blues

Is it fair to say I have a pretty rough case of the winter blues even though the sun is currently shining brightly through my window? I will say, what I’ve been told about Minnesota winters being sunnier and cheerier than Chicago is very, very true. Despite the uncharacteristically gloomy January we had, we definitely get more sun here in MN, but that comes at a cost of extreme cold and my body simply can NOT handle it. I keep comparing myself to a fly. Have you ever encountered a fly when it gets cold? It slows way down and eventually can’t fly anymore. This is 100% how I’ve been feeling lately. It’s a CMT thing for sure, so that’s life, but it’s still something I’m learning to struggle with.

5. Love is Blind

New binge-worthy trash TV alert!! I started watching Love is Blind on Netflix while I was meal prepping early this week and it quickly became a show that I just binge-watched straight through. The concept is people meet, talk, fall in love, and get engaged without ever seeing the other person’s face. Then they meet and have to do life together for 4 weeks leading up to their wedding, where they ultimately decide whether or not to stay with the person. Crazy, dramatic, and an ideal trash tv show for me. Loving it!

That’s all for this week! Also, I’m well aware I’m hitting publish on Saturday. Don’t get me started…. 🙄

January’s Life Lesson

2020 is my year for making big goals happen and making big dreams reality, but instead of starting off with a super-productive bang, 2020 sort of did the opposite, and it’s ended up teaching me some pretty stellar lessons about balance. The kicker here is that feeling like I got knocked back a little bit is turning out to be the thing I feel is propelling me forward. Let me explain.

January 1st rolled around, and of course I wasn’t at home to hit the ground running with my 2020 goals and habits that I wanted to achieve simply because of travel. We didn’t get home until the 3rd, then our anniversary was the 4th, and Monday wasn’t until the 6th. Call them nothing more than excuses, that’s fine, but it took me nearly a week into the new year to even consider sitting down, messing with planners, habits, checklists, and all of the ambitious type-a planner girl things that make me me. 

Then, to kick a girl while she’s feeling down, the Minnesota winter hit me… hard! While I’ve lived in Midwestern winters my entire life, there’s something about this one that is proving to be particularly difficult on my body. I’m constantly cold, and my CMT nerves appear to be impacted by this more than normal. The way I’ve been explaining it to people is like a dial on a radio. If my normal, everyday best-self of feeling energized and awesome is usually the dial turned all the way up to 10, then things like lack of sleep, a bad CMT day, or whatever can impact my dial accordingly. This winter feels like it’s taken my dial and jammed it so the absolute max I can feel is a 6 rather than a 10, which is a major impact. THEN take the additional things that might turn the dial down a bit and add those to the equation and you definitely have me functioning at what feels like half of my best-self on any given day.  It was (and still is) terrible. 

Obviously, I had to figure out the solution to this problem, because this is no way to live during a Minnesota winter. I had to take a serious look at what I was actually doing versus all of the things I wanted to do and figure out what had to give because something had to. 

The first thing I decided to do to lighten my load was give myself permission to sleep if sleep was honestly what I felt I needed. This simply meant I didn’t have to get up at 5:30 am with my husband anymore. Instead, I moved my wakeup time back to 6:30, and if necessary I allow myself to sleep until 7:30. Whatever it takes to ensure I get adequate sleep. You see, I realized I had two options here:

1) Be sleep deprived on top of this winter energy drain, struggle to basically accomplish anything and spend literally half of the day sitting because I have zero energy and end up feeling bad about wasting hours in my day. 


2) Surrender an hour to 90 minutes of my morning sleeping in to ensure maximum energy and productivity.

There’s no competition! The obvious answer is to spend an extra 60-90 minutes resting rather than spending 10+ hours riding the struggle bus, feeling drained, and only accomplishing half of what I want to accomplish in a day. The mathematic answer is clear, and the second I gave myself permission to rest, everything started to change. 

I suddenly have the energy necessary to workout, to run the home, and to run my business. I also find that I have the willpower and discipline to stick to my diet better, and let’s be honest, when I eat better I feel better. It’s all one big cycle that can go very right or very, very wrong. 

A few other changes I made in January that I already feel a huge impact from:

1) I am focused more on my protein goal than my daily Points goal. This was another way I loosened the reigns a bit by giving myself permission to stray outside of my Points for the sake of protein. My goal is 100g protein every day, and while that often sets me over my Points goal (more on this later. There’s still a specific balance I’m following), I’m finding the scale is going down anyway.  I’ve traded a lot of sugary and carb-heavy things for things that will pack more protein into my diet, and not only is the scale going down, but I feel amazing!

2) I added an extra rest day into my week. This means 5 days of working out instead of 6, which feels amazing. My rest days are now Sundays and Wednesdays, and as long as I still reach my movement goal in some way (I’m currently using an under the desk elliptical to keep my legs moving as I type), I don’t have to get to the gym. Not only that, but I’ve also given myself permission to not workout if my body truly needs an extra day of rest. I’ve used this once already to skip a Bodypump workout on a day I was feeling truly terrible (thanks hormones) and let me tell you, it was the right choice. 

The bottom line here is that I’ve learned 2 major life lessons in January, and they’re both game-changers.

1. Rest is just as important as work. People who sacrifice themselves to the end of their ropes and pride themselves on busyness and hard work with zero rest are out of their minds. I mean, if it works for them then that’s great, but for me personally, I find that I am exponentially more productive when I integrate regular periods of rest into my days and into my life. If I don’t rest I will fail, but if I do make the choice to actively rest regularly, I can thrive everywhere else in my life that requires my time, focus, and energy. Rest is essential, and it is OKAY to take the time to rest. 

2. Giving yourself permission is incredibly powerful. Notice how I said several times in this post that I gave myself permission to essentially be less than perfect. I gave myself permission to eat over my points for the sake of eating more protein. I gave myself permission to rest for the sake of being able to do my jobs well. I gave myself permission to take an extra day off of the gym. I gave myself permission to be someone other than the picture-perfect superwoman I’ve always envisioned myself as in my head, and it is as if a giant weight has been lifted off of my shoulders, which coincidentally gives me the power to be the superwoman I wanted to be all along. Being a superwoman doesn’t mean being perfect, but it means being your best self. For me, being my best self is somebody who knows when to work, when to rest, and how to excel at both.

This huge lesson the beginning of 2020 has taught me guarantees that I will thrive for the rest of the year. Now that February is here I am feeling strong, motivated, energized, and ready to kick my goal-getting into high gear. I won’t be perfect, but I guarantee there will be progress. I won’t be killing myself for the sake of the job, but I will share with you how I have learned to rest and balance my life a little bit better. This will allow me to show up as a better content creator, a better wife to my husband, and a better advocate for myself. 

Get ready, world. I’m coming in hot and ready. But first, I’m going to take a 10-minute break 🙂

I’m a lot of things, but..

Clearly I am NOT a daily blogger…

That just is what it is I guess. I learned a while back that rather than try to change who I am, I need to learn to work with who I’m hardwired to be. This became apparent when I decided to retake Gretchen Rubin’s 4 tendencies quiz. The first time I took it I was designated as an Upholder, and in my mind as the perfectionist firstborn child, that is exactly what I am supposed to be.

We all know just because you feel you’re supposed to be some specific way or have some personality trait doesn’t necessarily mean you do. After spending way too much time in denial about which of the 4 tendencies I really was, I took the quiz again and rather than answering for the person I wanted to be, I answered for who I really was at that moment.

I am an Obliger.

This means that I am great at upholding my commitments made to other people, but when it comes to keeping promises to myself and reaching goals, I still need external accountability even if it’s a personal goal. I decided to accept that about myself and my life changed.

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Day 7-8 of 90

Monday was the first of what will be many snow days. Rather than type it all out for you, I will post my vlogmas vlog here for your viewing pleasure. What you need to know is I ended the day with 32/27 Points, using 5 weeklies due to cookie consumption.

Tuesday I decided to venture out into the below zero temperatures (with many, many layers of clothes on) to go to a Bodypump class. It was a new (to me) instructor who mentioned a Christmas specific workout later in the week. I was curious so I struck up a conversation. Long story short, I bonded with this woman over our shared faith in Jesus, and this class on Thursday would be faith-based. Cool!! Hopefully, the weather cooperates so I can attend.

I got a Bodypump workout in and some steps on the elliptical before heading to Sam’s Club to get meat and reluctantly pump gas. Then it transformed into work day and was pretty business-as-usual.

Breakfast: Healthy Eating OTG Bar (5)

Lunch: Sam’s Club soft pretzel. I know, I know…I caved. Want to know the worst part? Jordan was right and they’re freaking amazing! $0.99 and the best soft pretzel ever. This is not good. Counted as 10 pp

Second lunch: Smoked salmon (3) and Cheetos (4)

Dinner: Velveeta Shells and Cheese 2% cup (5) and broccoli (0)

Treats: Too many cookies (10) and too many Lindt Truffles (6)

Total for the day: 43/27 (used 16 weeklies and have 13 remaining for the week)

Weekend Update | Day 4-6 of 90

Happy Monday, my friends! Okay, so clearly daily blogging doesn’t work for me, but here’s what I’m learning about myself. I don’t want to do work on weekends. Quite frankly, since I am in complete control of my work hours, I have officially decided that I don’t work on the weekends. End of story.

Since our move to MN, my weekends have become such a sacred time for my husband and I. Sometimes our weekends are just housework and chilling in front of the TV. Sometimes it’s crazy errands, a fun date night out, or some sort of adventure. Whatever the case may be, I don’t reach for social media or my vlogging camera nearly as much as I would during the week, and I rarely sit down at my computer or even go in my office, simply because I don’t even want to. I’ve finally decided it’s okay, and my weekends are now whatever level of work I feel like doing with no real obligation to do so. That being said, daily updates won’t happen on the weekends. You’ll just get a weekend update on Monday.


Sadly, I don’t have many photos to share because of the whole not picking up cameras thing, but I tracked every bite this weekend, so that’s something.

Breakfast: Quaker weight control oatmeal (4) with PEScience Protein 4 Oats (literally protein powder meant to go in oatmeal) (2) with microwaved apple pieces (0) and 2tsp real brown sugar (0). Total 6/27

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