Choosing Happiness in 2018

Even though the New Year is always just a change in the date, there is something deeply hardwired in our minds that craves a fresh beginning! We need hope in our lives to remind us of our passions, goals and dreams!

So here are my favorite tools that I love, to help you kick off 2018 on a positive note!

  1. 52 Lists for Happiness: Weekly Journaling Inspiration for Positivity, Balance, and Joy: In this weekly journal, you focus on a different list every week, integrating inspiration and happiness regularly. I am choosing to fill out my list every Monday to kick off my week!

2. The Happy Planner 12 Month Box Kit – Fitness Edition: This is such a fun planner with stickers to help create, track, and plan your goals! Writing down your goals is such a great way to stick to them and achieve them!

3. The Five Minute Journal: A Happier You in 5 Minutes a Day: A daily journal that I use day and night to capture moments of gratitude, plan accomplishments, and a encourage affirmations.
4. The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living: The authors of this daily read, boil down six centuries of deep thinking by various Greeks and Romans of the School of Stoic Philosophy. Everyday you read a short quote from one of the original thinkers, in categories on how to find mental clarity, how to take action, and how to understand your place in the world.
5. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life: A stoic twist on your traditional self-help book, where Mark Manson encourages happiness even through the toughest times.

Let 2018 be it!

Paige Bradshaw

Stuffed Like A Turkey

“It’s officially the holidays, so I’m just going to stuff myself so full that I feel miserable and want to take a nap!”-says Everyone During the Holidays

It seems as if during this time of the year, we completely lose our inhibitions, throw all of our goals out the door, promising ourselves that on January 1st we will get back in the gym and back on the diet.

Then January 1st hits, the gyms are packed with hopes of FINALLY achieving our weight loss goals. New Year, New Me, as they say!

And then 92% of us forget what our NYE Resolutions even were! That means that only 8%, EIGHT PERCENT of us stick with our goals.

The cycle repeats.

Over.

And over.

And over.

Again.

Year after year.

Never going anywhere but a circle.

So how can we get out of this terrrrrrrible cyclical behavior that is OBVIOUSLY NOT WORKING?!?!?!

Step 1: Admit that you have a problem…no seriously look at your behaviors. Are you stuck in this rut? What behaviors are you constantly repeating? Insert definition of insanity, because the fact that we get stuck in these cycles is literally insane.

Step 2: Forgive yourself, we are imperfect…but probably not even close to being straight jacket insane.

Step 3: Get a plan together. Identify your goals. Write them down.

Step 4: Do everything you can to stick with your goals.

Step 5: Fall of the wagon…at least 20 times. You are inevitably going to fall off the wagon. Your friends are going to invite you to drink margs and binge out on chips and salsa! You will be attending holiday parties with buffets of food! You will see chocolate mouse pie in the kitchen at work! There WILL be a Bota Box at game night…

Step 6: Get back on the freakin’ wagon. Whoopty-doo, you drank too many glasses of wine last night. Drink a freaking smoothie and a crap load of water and start over the next day.

Step 7: Forgive yourself, we are not perfect. We NEVER will be, I can 100% promise you that! So you can just forget that idea entirely!

Step 8: Remember your why, no matter your goals, you must have a deep underlying motivation to keep you on the wagon. For your children? Beach vacation? For yourself?

Step 9: Achieve goal!

Step 10: Actively stay on top of goals by repeating this method again!

Look, I have Friendsgiving this weekend, Thanksgiving next week, a company Christmas party the week after that, probably at least two other parties between that and Christmas, then Christmas, then NYE..that looks like a lot of excuses to binge out and feel miserable. I have been in this cycle of misery before, over and over, which is why I can write this article of encouragement, that it doesn’t have to be like this for you, you can accomplish your health/fitness goals.

I still plan to drink my wine, play Battle Jell-O shots, eat a big plate of delicious food, and enjoy myself at Friensgiving! Inevitably I am going to go over my daily caloric recommendations, and that’s okay. But what am I doing to combat that?

-Starting my day off with a whole foods smoothie

-Hitting a heavy leg day

-Drink another whole foods smoothie

-Enjoy the party! Eat the food! Drink the wine! Consume Jell-O shots!

-The next day I am going to drink another whole foods smoothie

-Go on a walk/run/yoga/some sort of exercise

-Drink plenty of water

-Eat light, healthy foods

-More water consumption

**Maybe smoothies aren’t your thing, so I suggest you eat foods that make you feel good!

Don’t get caught using the holidays as an excuse to binge and forget your health goals!

Start today!

Paige Bradshaw

 

How To Beat Those Cravings

This morning I was determined to indulge in a cheat meal after my workout. I was dreaming of a waffle breakfast with the butter melted in the pockets, topped with warm syrup, crispy bacon, and eggs. Then I passed an Indian grill, and started thinking about warm naan with curried chicken and rice…I am obviously a foodie.

I completed my workout and immediately craved a healthy meal, so I ended up stuffing myself with a large salad with shrimp from Salata!

So how do we beat these cravings that take over our thoughts and misguide us from our goals?

Here are some tips that work for those times that you are craving a meal that won’t end with you feeling your best!

  1. Hit a workout, you aren’t going to get out of a workout craving a candy bar.
  2. Get creative, make a healthier version of the meal/dessert you are craving!
  3. Listen to a motivating podcast, if you are motivated, you are more likely to stick with your goals!
  4. Eat a big salad, if you are full of leafy greens and veggies, you won’t crave those sugary foods.
  5. Make a superfood-packed protein shake, protein is satiating, and the perfect snack that can be a variety of flavors, including chocolate, strawberry cream, orangcicle, and more.

Most of the time, our cravings are signals that we are in need of nutrients, so any of the above suggestions are ones that will aid in fulfilling those needs.

Paige Bradshaw

That One Time I Competed…

It has been almost four years since I stepped on stage at the Oklahoma City Grand Prix. WOW! Four Years?!?! That really seems like forever, plus one day ago. I had been wanting to be in a show for two years prior to making a commitment to compete in the GP. My friend who had been competing for several years gave me the best advice, “Just pick a show that you want to compete in, and do it.” I feel as if he made it sound easier than it really was, but that’s exactly what I ended up doing.

I legitimately had no idea what I was doing, so I ended up hiring a coach, who guided me through the nutrition and cardio aspects of prepping. I hired a second coach to teach me how to pose, which was honestly my favorite part of prep.

After two months of preparing for my first show, I finally woke up with abs, I am pretty sure that I started laughing because I was so excited. FINALLY, my hours and hours of cardio, and planned meals were starting to pay off.

My goal was to place top 5. I placed 5th.

That night, I drove back to my apartment in Tulsa, my roommate/best friend surprised me with chocolate covered strawberries, peanut butter pop tarts, champagne, and all sorts of candy. I basically ate it all. The next day I had a beer, mimosa, garlic knots, pizza, Asian food and my favorite peppermint brownie sundae…I threw up I was so miserably full.

I LOVED competing, it was exhilarating, fun, and gave me structure. But unfortunately, I ended up struggling with binge eating for years, YEARS after my show. I kept trying to prep for another show, and I just could not mentally handle the strict diet. My binge eating was starting to get to the point where I felt so much shame and guilt for eating that many excess calories. (Sometimes I would go to the grocery store just to get a roll of cookie dough. I didn’t even wait until I was home to open the cookie dough!!!!)

The rebound of competing in a show, combined with the inability to eat normally, caused me to gain an excessive amount of weight (relatively speaking). The real truth of it all for me is that I have been trying to get back down to a healthier body composition since the completion of my first show. Four years later, I don’t have “binge sessions” anymore, which has greatly helped me with achieve a better state of mind. Don’t let that fool you though, I still have my moments where I don’t feel confident, skinny enough, or fit enough.

Everyone struggles with their own internal battles and insecurities, because we all have egos (some are bigger than others). It might not always be physical insecurities that an ego latches onto, for some it could be status (i.e. fancy belongings that give other people the notion that you have money and come from status and power), or wealth. Our egos feed off of competition and suck us into a dark hole of negativity. Once you start down that ugly path, it feels even harder to get out of your “funk.”

Moral of the story, no matter where you are in your lifelong fitness journey, there will be fluctuations, and you must remember that your self-talk is more important to your well-being than you might realize. Yes, it is so important to put all of the best foods into your body and exercise daily, but it is so vital to feed your soul with positivity and love.

I am going to say it again, everyone struggles with their own internal battles and insecurities, but don’t forget to be kind to yourself. My body doesn’t look anything like these pictures posted above and below. But I have to remind myself constantly that our bodies are incredible, and no matter what you look like on the outside, your internal workings are always striving to keep you as healthy and happy as it can, in my opinion this is amazing.

You are your worst critic, so focus on putting great food into your body, staying active, and being positive! You got this!

People STILL ask me if I plan on ever competing again..the answer is that I don’t know! 🙂

Paige Bradshaw

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The Changing of Seasons

Life is a crazy roller coaster ride, you never know if you are going to be headed up, taking a sharp left, or just free falling. That’s why it is so important to realize that we go through seasons, yes, just as the weather changes, our goals/priorities change dependent upon the stage we are in.

The reason I bring this up, is that sometimes you get caught in a phase of life where you have to do something you don’t want to do or work extra hard at something else, just to get started in the direction that aligns with the goal during that season. This is what most people would call the “grind mode.” Whatever your goals may be, this is the most exhausting season of life, because it requires your full attention on a large goal. For some this could be working towards a weight loss goal, or a gigantic project at work that your career depends upon.

When you are in “grind mode,” it is harder to focus on all of your values and goals on a day-to-day basis. For example, you are going back to school and working a full time job, you may not be able to go to the gym 5 times a week AND read for pleasure everyday. You are in a season where you must make choices, and those decisions need to bring you the most happiness with the extra time that you do have.

You have to understand that even though you want to read a book a week, work 40 hours a week, work a side hustle 3-6 hours a week, sleep 7 hours a day, exercise everyday for at least an hour, have a solid morning routine (with breathing exercises, meditation, stretching), make every meal at home, complete daily journal entries, hang out with your loved one(s), etc, etc (I am so guilty of this)…something inevitably has to go on the back burner.

The whole point of this is of course you have to make yourself accountable for getting it done, but that doesn’t mean that you have to punish/get down on yourself for not accomplishing everything. My suggestion is to write down 10-20 priorities/goals, identify your top 3-5, create a way to include those into your life, and then do your best.

It is important to become fully aware of these exact moments that feel as if you are slowlyyyyyy headed up a longggggg, steeeeeeep incline, so that you can enjoy the easy, screamingly fun ride down, because that’s what makes this life really worth it.

Paige Bradshaw

 

Six Months of Gratitude

Approximately one year ago, I received “The Five Minute Journal” as a gift. At first, I was not very consistent with my daily entries, one week here, a few days there. I was never accordant with writing down pieces of gratitude within my life. As soon as I started to commit to thinking of all of the reasons that make me thankful each and every day, miraculous things began happening to my state of mind.

Prior to my gratitude practice, I had the worst anxiety, I believe it peaked when I started my career in the corporate world. I would find myself in black holes of negativity. Panicking and asking myself “What is the meaning of life?” “What is my real purpose?” When you get into cycles of waking up, going to the gym, going to work, coming home, eating dinner, going to bed; repeat everyday, it takes a toll on your mental health. It is important to use all of your spare time outside of work and obligations to cater to your needs, passions, and self-growth (that is a additional post).

I have now reconciled my first gratitude journal, from cover to finish. Most days I wake up feeling happy and at peace with my life. I express my appreciation for anything that brings joy to my life.  There is no scale on what makes you truly thankful, some days I am personally grateful for my health, a steady paycheck, my cozy warm bed, or just a cup of hot tea first thing in the morning. You decide what makes your heart full, acknowledging your thoughts by putting them down in your journal.

So how does “The Five-Minute Journal” work? In the morning, you write the three things you are most grateful for, three intentions for your day, and a personal affirmation. Before you hit the hay, you record three amazing things that occurred that day and one thing you wish you could have changed or done differently.

What does this practice do to your mind? First of all, when you declare all of the great things in your life, it automatically uplifts your soul. Secondly, by setting your intentions for the day, you have goals to guide your day to one that leads to success. At night, when you state the amazing things that happened to you that day, you are ending your day on a positive note. When you concede the thoughts on how your day could have been better, you admit to yourself that there were things that you could work on to make your day even better!

All of a sudden, after making  gratitude a daily ritual, you automatically start noticing things that make you grateful and then more things that bring you solitude and peace occur on autopilot! This practice is training your mind to recognize all of the good that is in your life!

And then one day you are standing there at an event and you randomly and deeply think to yourself of how truly blessed you have become, how great your life honestly is, and how genuinely happy you feel! That is what I call inner peace and happiness.

I am not saying that life is always going to be rainbows and butterflies, but I truly believe that this practice has revolutionized my thinking.

It is truly beautiful, and I encourage everyone to try it out! I have put the link for the journal on Amazon below. Tag me on Instagram @paigesbunsnguns if you buy the “The Five-Minute Journal,” create your own gratitude ritual, or find another tool to aid you in the success of finding your inner peace and happiness!

Paige Bradshaw