10 WAYS TO IMPERFECTLY IMPROVE YOURSELF

Lately, I've been feeling like I've been in a bit of a funk. My energy has been low, my motivation hasn't been as high and my healthy intake has been kind of mindless... as in, I eat whatever I feel like having without putting much thought into its health benefits. 

I've been telling myself that I need to make a change for a while. But my lack of motivation has been playing devil's advocate. I continue to say: 

"After this vacation, I'll be able to buckle down and focus more." 

"After the weekend." 

"I'll wait until I get that mind shift. I can't force myself or I'm not really gonna change unless I really want to."

Excuse after excuse happened. And let's be honest, this has been going on and off since I had my little Lila, who is now 16 months old. 😳😅

I needed to take my own advice that I constantly give to others and MAKE. A. CHANGE. 

 
 

Today is the eighth day of my mental and physical health journey. And it is something that I made a choice ahead of time. I mentally prepared for it. I know I'm not going to be perfect at it, so I am choosing to imperfectly improve myself, my well-being, and make a happier, healthier environment for my family as well. 

Since 40% of our behavior is habit-driven, we must take control of our ability to be self-disciplined, we have to control our habits. In particular, there are 10 habits that I am working to achieve every single day to help discipline myself. 

These are some things I did to prepare BEFORE I STARTED my own mental and physical health journey...and if you want to join in I will be your teammate! Because we are all in this together:

First, I went on Amazon and bought stick-on dry erase vinyl. I stuck it to my bedroom wall, where it faces me when I wake up in the morning. It may not be the prettiest decor in my room, but it holds me accountable from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to bed. 

On one sheet I wrote my weekly, monthly and end of year goals. 

On the other sheet, I wrote my to-do list for the day. It is one of the most satisfying things to physically check off a box on your to-do list. It is very difficult for me to end the day staring at an unchecked box, so it gives me that much more motivation to get that box checked! Who's with me?

I categorized my to-do list by putting down my most important to least important tasks in order- or at least numbered them from most urgent to least. (Reason to follow)

Once you have commitment, you need the discipline and hard work to get you there.
— Haile Gebrselassie

Here are 10 habits I am adding to my everyday routine to bring more satisfaction, joy, and strength in my life. 

1. WRITE YOUR GOALS & TO-DO LIST IN A HIGH TRAFFIC AND VISIBLE PLACE.

 
 

2. WAKE UP EARLY

One of my goals was to wake up "early". 7:30am. 😂 I'm not a morning person, so that is early for me. But I decided that I was going to wake up before my kids and accomplish the top three things on my to-do list. Make sure they are the three things you feel are most pressing and will keep you feeling less stressed throughout the rest of the day. 

 
 

3. MEDITATE

The first thing I put on my to-do list when I wake up is a 3-minute meditation to get my mind balanced and more focused. A great app to use is Headspace, it's a wonderful tool to use, especially if you are a first-time meditator like me.

What is the importance of meditating? Meditating helps us to control our mind and thoughts and turn off our mind when we do not need it anymore.

If you are anything like me, I am not a napper. I go to bed too late and when I try to go to bed early, I toss and turn as my mind runs a mile a minute. Thought after thought consumes me to the point that I sometimes need to get up, make lists, write down my thoughts or even put my loose thoughts into action. (Which is why it is important to write a to-do list every day, so that I can relax and remember that I accomplished my most important things for today and I don't need to worry so much about the small things.)

Meditation can help us embrace our worries, our fear, our anger; and that is very healing. We let our own natural capacity of healing do the work.
— Thich Nhat Hanh

4. DO SOME PHYSICAL  EXERCISE. 

This has been my biggest hurdle since I had my last baby. I have worked a lot on my self-worth and in the middle of it, I got into this mindset of being okay with my body and the changes it has gone through, since becoming a mother. I would say to myself, "it's okay if I have a little flab, a few extra dimples and a little too much jiggle in my steps. I am happy with my body, and I don't have to obsess over the little things." 

But then, something changed. I went back to the gym more than one time in a month! I was working out with my husband, doing squats and box jumps, when that feeling of accomplishment, power, and strength came over me. I missed that feeling. I didn't know it until that moment. A voice came in my head and it said: "you're back". It was the most satisfying and motivating feeling I've had in a while. But let me be honest with you, this feeling only lasted for a few days, maybe even hours. It was still hard for me to get my butt to the gym every day... it actually took weeks until I got my white board and physically wrote down my goals. 

I made exercise my weekly goal. It was my goal to go to the gym 5 times this week. I wrote M, T, W, TH, F, S all with boxes below them for me to check off after each day. Not only did I go to the gym 5 times last week, I went 6! So I'm feeling pretty proud of my self-discipline and commitment. The check boxes are working!

 
 

5. BE PRESENT

This is always a hard one for us all. With the whole world at our fingertips every second of the day, emails coming through, social media constantly popping up in our heads, wondering about what everyone else is doing, and constantly thinking of the next thing we need to do. It is so refreshing and eye-opening when you stop. Take a minute to look around you, actually look at people in the eyes and simply Be. All. There.

Funny enough, the "Presence" was testing me as I was writing that last paragraph. My daughter, Haven woke up early from her nap and came running in to hug me. As I held her in my arms and showered her with hugs and kisses, she then asked me if I could "please color with her". My immediate thought was, "I will after I finish this blog post." But then, the exact thing I was writing about and preaching about was there to test me. "This blog post can wait, I said to myself." and with a definitive "YES!" I followed Haven to her coloring table and we shared some one-on-one time that we rarely ever get these days. 

I could have missed out on such a sweet, memorable moment with my daughter. And I'm so thankful that I chose to be all there. One thing that I have tried to do since I had my girls was to not work when they are awake. I work during naptime and bedtime, that way I can be more present with them during the day. I know sometimes things come up and I can't always do that, so I set a timer for 20 minutes to spend completely with my girls. To be 100% there with them, and it has really helped with my mom guilt.

 
 

6. GO ON A DATE WITH   YOUR BUDGET. 

Putting together a budget and saving a certain amount of money before the end of the year was on my Goals list. This was a topic that Cory and I have been putting off for far too long, and even when I had it on my to-do list, the box stayed unchecked for two days. You know how much it pains me to see an unchecked box, so it shows how much I didn't want to look at our finances and figure out a budget and set a goal to save X amount by the end of the year. 

Back story-- I grew up in a family of 8 other brothers and sisters. So money was a constant topic of conversation with my dad. Better yet, the words "We don't have money for that" echoed through my head. It wasn't that we were poor, but we definitely weren't rich and my parents had to be frugal. When we went to the fair or an amusement part, we brought our own food in, there was no way in hell we were getting some kind of special treat there, unless we bought it with our own money. If the refrigerator door was open for longer than 10 seconds you would hear my dad's voice from the other room yelling "close the door, you're letting all the cold air out!!". It was like he was lurking around every corner to make sure to tell us to turn the lights off, to open a window instead of turn on the a/c, etc.  So I decided a long time ago that I never wanted to live with so much strain to be frugal and tight with my money. If I wanted to do something or buy something I was going to buy it without constant worry if I had enough in my bank account. That is why I started babysitting as soon as I was old enough. I made my own fliers and passed them out throughout the neighborhood. The day I turned 15, literally on my birthday I had a job interview at one of the only places that hired 15-year-olds, Wendy's. I have been working ever since and worked all through college, just so I could have my own financial freedom.

 
 

With that being said, it's hard for me to have a lot of discipline when it comes to my budget. Not that I go crazy and max out my credit cards, I have actually never had credit card debt. But, it is important to be more aware of your spending habits and where your money is going. I am trying to spend smarter rather than mindlessly. So we officially set up a budget last night, made some cuts and now have a plan for where our money is going. 

7. EAT WELL. BE WELL.

I'm going to be real honest with you, I haven't really gotten myself to this part yet this week. Mainly because I was making a lot of changes, to-do's and goals this week I didn't want to over do it and make myself feel too overwhelmed.

First and foremost, I do not believe in crash diets. I believe in lifestyle changes. My biggest problem is that I don't eat enough, if at all in the mornings. I eat random snacks, bread, little treats and/or a salad for lunch and then, for the most part, have a pretty wholesome meal for dinner. Then, after the girls go to bed I indulge in a treat. So it's not like I have horrible eating habits, but my problem is making time for me to eat something, filling and healthy. I also spend way too much money on Starbucks and their little Bistro Boxes, you know, the ones with the apples, grapes, two boiled eggs, bread and peanut butter? Yeah, those are a staple in our outings.

This week is the week to start really disciplining myself to choose healthier options. I'm planning to do the following things:

  1. Only have 3 sweets a week
  2. Instead of having "cheat days" I will have 3 cheat meals on different days. That way I won't feel like a total failure for a whole day. 
  3. Drink more water (90 oz a day)

8. HELLO, GOD.

Spirituality is such an important part of my life. It helps me to know that I will always have someone by my side no matter what I'm going through. I'm going to be honest, I have not been as good as a could be at talking to my God, reading scriptures, or sometimes even putting forth much effort to recognize His hand in my life. But the amazing thing about my belief of God, is that he is always reaching, always there to comfort me and is a constant listening ear when I need someone.

There have been many times of trial in my life where I have felt more sorrow than I thought I could bare. But when I reached for my God, I could always feel him reaching back. For me, his presence in my life is something that keeps me feeling loved, important and guided in my decisions. 

There is a quote by C.H. Spurgeon that says, "To trust in God in the light is nothing, but trust Him in the dark- that is faith.

 
 

I am a firm believer in these words and I feel that in order to keep that faith strong, I need to keep a closer relationship with God. Therefore, I have made goals to talk to him in the morning and night and try to reflect on one verse a day. Since doing this, I have felt more compassion, gratitude and love for those around me, and that makes me happier person.

9. GRATITUDE

I feel that when I am not being fully aware of what I'm grateful for, I am constantly looking for more to satisfy me. The habit of gratitude helps move us away from constantly wanting what we don't have, and towards appreciating what we do have. When we do this, some remarkable shifts begin to occur.

Gratitude reaches so much further than we think. From improving our mental health, to our emotional well-being, and our spirituality, gratitude can do so much. But most importantly, it helps to move us away from a state of lack and towards a state of abundance.

Lately, my husband and I have been in a stand still when it comes to advancing in his career and where our family is supposed to be. For a while I have been caught up in how we aren't where we both thought we should be. We don't own a house yet, all while most of our friends are buying their first home, settling in and really starting their family journey. We are surrounded by very successful people who seem to have it all. So it is easy to get caught up in the comparison game and wonder when we will get to that point, asking, "why is it so much harder for us?" 

Now, I am decided to make a shift in my mind. To be more grateful for what we have accomplished and where we are now. If we work hard, with a grateful heart, things will work out despite all the confusion and twists and turns life can bring us. 

 
 

10. SLEEP

Sleep is directly connected with our ability to discipline ourselves. When we get the proper amount of sleep we have so much more power to get things done. As I'm sure you've noticed that when you don't get enough shuteye your mood is greatly affected. And if you're anything like me, I drag through the day, I'm more moody, shorter tempered and my ability to focus is like a dog on a walk (squirrel!). Our diets are affected as well as our overall health.

Studies indicate that people who are deprived of the proper amount of sleep on a regular basis are at a greater risk for certain diseases. Our lack of sleep has a great impact on our immune system.

 
 

While we all know, that getting more sleep is better for our well-being, why is it so hard for us?? I could tell you the studies and facts of lack of sleep all day long, but until we get to the bottom of why we aren't getting enough sleep, we can't change it. So for me, I have the following problems:

  1. I stay up for at least and extra 45 minutes mindlessly scrolling through social media, reading random stories and pretty much procrastinating until I can barely keep my eyes open.
  2. As a parent, I don't really get a lot of "me" time. So night time is the only time I can relax and focus on work, watching a show, reading a book, and/or talking with my husband.
  3. WORK. As I mentioned above, I don't have a lot of time without my girls around. I don't like to work when they are awake, so I work when they nap and when they go to bed.. Therefore, leaving me to work late at night sometimes. 

These are my solutions to work on:

  1. Put my phone in the other room so it doesn't tempt me. Put my journal by my bed instead and write about my day, my gratitude and loose thoughts. I tend to have a hard time quieting my thoughts. So if I write them down, it will be easier to have them out of the way when I'm trying to actually go to sleep.
  2. Do some breathing exercises after the girls go down for bed. Try to relax the mind for 20 minutes and set an alarm for when I should begin my nightly routine. (Wash face, brush teeth, write in journal, talk to husband, pray, sleep.) I know this isn't going to be easy, but when you make it a priority and really discipline yourself to do these things, it will get easier. 
  3. If you don't do it one night, or even a few nights, don't let it ruin everything. Just try again the next day. Like I said previously, be okay with imperfectly improving yourself.

If you can instill these 10 habits into your life, you can create the foundation for achieving your goals, but most importantly let this be the beginning of a happier, healthier lifestyle. 

Join me in this journey and share your experience by tagging @bebonafide!!

 
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Meet Allison

There are many things I am proud of in my 22 years of life. Having anxiety doesn’t exactly make the top of the list, but it is what it is. Living with anxiety has been far from easy, but after 2 and a half years of battling it, I am finally comfortable enough to share my story.

I suffer from GAD – General Anxiety Disorder. While I used to be incredibly embarrassed by that fact, the more research I do, the more I realize that I’m not alone. Most people don’t see this as a big deal because it’s not life threatening, (thank goodness!) and because it can’t be “seen.”

Unfortunately there is such an unfair stigma against mental health. There’s so much more to it than what meets the eye, and I’m ready to share that without ANY shame. So, let’s dig just a little bit deeper shall we?

What Does It Mean To Have GAD?

Firstly, what does it mean to have anxiety? Well, to be honest, there’s a different definition for every sufferer out there. For me, having anxiety means chronic worrying, self-doubt, and over exhaustion of nerves. The simplest of tasks are daunting and we simply have no control over those feelings.

How Does Anxiety Start?

There’s really no concrete answer to this. Anxiety can occur at any time to anyone, for any number of reasons. Most commonly, anxiety is triggered by not producing enough serotonin in the brain (also leading to the cause of panic attacks). There’s no rhyme or reason for this. Sometimes, anxiety is genetically inherited, other times it literally just happens.

My Story:

In my life, I experienced my first panic attack on my 16th birthday in Disney World. Disney freaking World….of all places! I was having a FABULOUS time and my family and I were waiting for dinner at Planet Hollywood, when all of a sudden, this overwhelming sense of terror consumed my body. At the time, I had no idea what was happening. All I knew was that I had to escape, somehow, someway. When it finally passed, I was exhausted, mentally and physically. I hoped to never experience that again.

Flash forward to February 2013 and once again, out of nowhere, I had the absolute worst panic attack of my life. It was a 2 hour ordeal and from that night forward, I was changed. What was once a rare occurrence became a daily battle. I went into hiding. I distanced myself from my family and friends. I lived in constant shame and self-loathing for having this medical condition. Anxiety was like the big bully on the playground, just lurking around every corner waiting for me. My biggest fear was people finding out what I was going through and judging me. I was way too embarrassed to ask for help, and I thought I could handle it on my own.

Unfortunately, I experienced two major tragedies in a short period of time and my anxiety became worse. It started to affect my health in ways I NEVER expected. After losing both of my grandfathers within a year of each other, juggling being a full time college student, and a large support to my family, my white blood cells began to go through the roof. I had to see a hematologist and it was by far the scariest moment of my life. After ruling out some life threatening disorders (leukemia, etc), I was terrified I had, I discovered that anxiety can raise your blood cells dramatically. And so, the time came for me to get some help and begin to heal myself. I realized by fighting against it & not helping myself, I was only going to become worse. I began to seek counseling and start medication. That moment was the best decision of my life.  

For the first time in the LONGEST time, I could breathe. I could resume a normal, healthy lifestyle again. I could go out with my family and friends. I could do all of the normal things that I wanted to do. Don’t get me wrong, I still struggle with anxiety. Unfortunately, it’s something that doesn’t just go away overnight. However; I’ve learned to accept it. Anxiety and I are by no means friends, but we are no longer enemies either. There’s so much more I could say about this illness, but each and every person experiences it differently. I will say this though; the journey I’m on is unique. Anxiety will always be a part of it, but I know I can overcome it. I know I can survive it. This is MY life and my anxiety can’t have it anymore.

- Allison

Thank you, Allison for being so brave and sharing your story! Mental health is such a big issue, yet hardly discussed - especially on social media. Every person is affected by their illnesses differently and each journey is unique. The more we talk about this and share our experiences the more informed people will be.  We can also learn how to support and uplift those who have these disorders. We know Allison is not alone in her struggles, and we would love to hear more from our Be Bonafide community about your personal journeys with mental health and any other storm you've learned and grown from. You are not alone, no matter what you are dealing with. Love yourselves, because we already do!

Please e-mail us at hello@bbonafide.com or tag us on Instagram @bebonafide with anything you feel comfortable sharing! We'd love to hear from you.

Confidence > Insecurity

I’ve always been the girl who needs assurance from others to feel confident in myself.  At the nail salon, I am always the last of my friends to pick a color so I can see everyone else’s first. My favorite princess as a child depended on who I was hanging out with, along with my favorite sport, color, school subject, & tv show.

I wasn’t the girl who wore red lipstick and strutted cowgirl boots to school in utter confidence.  But I didn’t want to be.  In fact, I was most confident when I felt like I matched someone else, or blended in to the other “typicals” my age.

To put it simply, I wanted to feel accepted by everyone around me- those who were significant players in my life, and those who weren’t.  I thoroughly believed I needed to be in agreement with everyone to be loved, appreciated, & accepted by them.  

I was insecure with myself, my actions, my decisions, beliefs, & preferences.  And I still am insecure in some ways.  Aren’t we all?  Sometimes it can help us- keep us from making too crazy of decisions for fear of judgment by others.  But it’s that same sense insecurity which destroys us.  It pulls us away from the things we love, from chasing our dreams, and taking leaps of faith.

Insecurity is a grip that tightens with doubtfulness and uncertainty. There are many roads to success but they all require trust in your decisions and faith that you will be successful in time. 

You have to believe you have a purpose.  You were hand crafted with determination and strength flowing through your veins.  So drop your insecurities.  Drop you doubts, skepticism, and hesitation.  Be bold.  Be ambitious.  Be Bona Fide.  And be confident that you have what it takes.  Because you do.

- Madi

New Town, New Girl

My name is Rachel, and I’m a small town girl. In high school, I was made fun of for being the super neurotic girl who always tried too hard to fit in. I can count on one hand the number of real girlfriends I had, and I was not by any means considered one of the pretty or popular girls. You could say my choice of after school program was silently comparing everything about myself to others. 

Fast-forward 6 years later: I still see a glimpse of that insecure girl inside of me; but I try my hardest not to give it away. (Being born and raised for 23 years in the same town hasn’t encouraged much change.) I still see those girls who would mock me, and the jocks who never once looked my way. And I’m constantly reminded of my past. Though I am very good at faking confidence, the reality is I’m probably looking at popular Instagrams, Pinterest boards, and more to figure out how I can be more like others.

I have always struggled with figured out how to be my own individual, because I want to be an individual who’s well liked. But it was just the other day my boyfriend said something very eye opening: “Rachel, you’re such a yes-girl. Every time someone throws out an idea, or opinion, or suggestion, you’re the first to jump on board with that person. And sure you’re building rapport in doing so; but having your own ideas, opinions, suggestions- that’s what will get you farther.” 

Wow. I was being the same girl I was in high school- doing whatever I can to fit in and have people LIKE me. But why do I care? Why is it so important to me? 

I’m writing this to not only get real with myself, but because I want to know if any of you have gone through this too. *Insert girl raising hand emoji

The media shoves “what’s hot and what’s not” down our throats every single day- buy these shoes, try doing your make up like this, use this filter on your posts. And because I don’t choose to make an opinion of my own- I just blindly subscribe to all of it. I’ve never considered myself a follower, and I don’t want to begin now. 

Which brings me to my point: new town, new me. 

After 23 years in a one-horse town of people judging one another, I moved to Seattle, Washington. And although it’s nearing August now, I have a resolution: be my own person. I’m going to stop caring about what other think is cool and create my own identity, my own style, my own personal brand of girl. 

Here’s what I’ve got so far: I’m Rachel, I’m 23 years old and I do not have it together. I like walking around (and getting lost) in unfamiliar neighborhoods with my pup, Matilda, trying (and occasionally failing) new recipes, and I sing all the time without realizing that the setting doesn’t always call for it. I’m a liberal at heart but also very spiritual. And I think dancing awkwardly in public is really funny. 

I like to wear stripes with floral print, karaoke, and any amber ale I can get my hands on. I think Sara Bareilles is ghastly underrated and I know every word to every song on T.S. 1989. 

I want to be outspoken sometimes, and I want to have an unpopular opinion. I want to stop caring if people like me or if they think I’m annoying. 

I want to be a new kind of me, and I want to use this new place as a guide to finding her.

- Rachel Sanchez


*Aggressively raises hand.* We have definitely been there, Rachel! Breaking old molds is difficult, but can be made so much easier with not only new vibes but new scenery. Jumping into new settings is scary but so rewarding! Being Bonafide is all about being unapologetically, genuinely YOU. We can't wait to hear about the new girl you discover in Seattle, but we're pretty sure we already love her. :) 

Dare to Bare

When I first heard about “No Makeup Monday” a few weeks ago, I had a moment of mini panic.  I love the idea of others feeling comfortable in their skin and flashing their real beauty because everyyyyone is beautiful naturally.  But me??  Just no.  I don’t EVER go out without makeup on.  I probably haven’t since before I started wearing makeup when I was 12.  My panic was subsided when I decided I’d just slide under the radar and avoid posting my own. 

Once I started asking people to participate, I realized I couldn’t sit this one out.  How could I ask others to go a full day makeup-less if I couldn’t walk out the door without it?  My friend Jessica was so pumped to brave her bare face on instagram.  She is so confident in her skin, and I look up to her so much for this.  

Me?  I’m comfortable hiding behind my layer of makeup.  I have dark circles under my eyes, the shortest little eyelashes, and freckles covering my nose.  These are my imperfections and insecurities.  These are what I’m hiding with my foundation, concealer, powder, mascara, etc. 

I like makeup.  It’s one of the fun parts of being a girl.  I like trying new looks I learned from youtube videos, and going to Sephora to try new products with friends.  Colorful lipstick is one of my favorite accessories.  But why does my makeup offer a confidence that no outfit or personality can?  Why do I worry so much about appearing “pretty” in the eyes of others? 

I honestly don’t know the answer.  I have no idea why I care so much about hiding the face God gifted me.  I’d rather be known for my beautiful personality than my beautiful face.  I want people to look at me and say wow look at her pretty grace, pretty compassion, pretty selflessness. 

These are the things I have to work for.  These are the things I try & fail & try again at. 

I’m embracing my imperfections.  I’m embracing my insecurities.  I’m embracing the skin I was given and daring to bare. 

I went a whole day without makeup today.  And it was so, sooo freeing.  I’m not going to say I’ll never wear makeup again and that everyone should go around makeup-less from now on, but I do challenge you to try it.  For one day.  Or for as long as it takes for you to know your face isn’t what makes you pretty.

You are all beautiful because you were hand crafted and chosen by someone greater.  You are beautiful for paying it forward, for forgiving, and for hanging out with the new girl.  You are all beautiful for the love you share & spread around to those around you. 

This is me...  Foundation-less, mascara-less, lipstick-less; no filters; all natural. 

- Madi (ohmymadi.squarespace.com)

We're so proud of Madi and her determination to Be Bonafide, even when it's not comfortable or popular. THAT is real bravery, being afraid and doing it anyway! You can participate by posting your own makeup-less selfies with the hashtag #BBNoMakeupMonday. We would love to see our feeds crammed with your beautiful, natural faces! Let's conquer our fears of social media and GET REAL.