In a RUT

Let’s first just start off that this RUT of mine took a while to realize I was even in one. For multiple reasons – most of them being small everyday things I was overlooking, but that’s also probably why I was ignoring them for so long. Overall they can feel minor at times, but when they continue to go on for too long – they become much more impact-full than you can even realize.

I’ve had a lot of changes coming into my life this year, some planned, some very unexpected… and some very positive. Turns out I wasn’t fully balancing everything well, and it forced me to take a big step back this weekend and evaluate what I was letting go, what I need to introduce back into my daily routine, and just overall better manage my time with my full time job, blogging, and self care.

Want to start with some changes that were really the jumpstart of my RUT. First major change was losing my job in February. This really came out of nowhere and clearly not part of my plan. I was miserably unhappy at my last employer – for many reasons that do not need to be shared – but this still completely gut punched me for many reasons. One – I live paycheck to paycheck. I am able to save a little each month, but one of the reasons why I bartend is because I need money for vacations, fun things, paying off some debt, supporting my blogging, etc. Losing my main source of income was SCARY to say the least. I was given severance, still received my bonus from the previous year – but I wanted to use that money for something other than supporting myself UNTIL I found something new. Second reason this rocked me was all the sudden I had ZERO schedule to follow. I didn’t have to be somewhere at 8 am, I had no work routine to follow, no projects to focus on, and my time was spent in front of a computer job hunting for 6-8 hours a day and blogging in between. It was rough. I am ALWAYS busy and going from one thing to another. When that was taken away I was a little lost. Third reason is I’m very creative and my job was also in a creative space. All of the sudden I didn’t feel like I was contributing to something important. I would think of all the unfinished projects I was a part of. Even though I wasn’t happy at my job, the work I was doing was important to me and I would get sad and angry knowing that I wasn’t able to finish projects I put my heart and soul into, I wouldn’t see them through, they would be taken over by someone else who didn’t have my passion and drive behind them.

To say I was overwhelmed with all of these emotions was as an understatement. I was also lonely. Even though I didn’t love my job, having people to talk to daily at the office, see daily, go to lunch with… that interaction was also taken away from me and while you’re at home worrying and stressing… your friends are all at their jobs, working, and don’t have all day to comfort you or be there when I needed or wanted to talk. Which is fine… I didn’t expect anything other than what they could give. It’s just still lonely. I’m was (am) also single. I love being on my own- but that also meant I didn’t have someone special there for me daily, and no one to fall back on if financially things went really south. I don’t expect anyone to take care of me, but during this time I really was missing every kind of human connection.

Second change, that I knew was coming, was my parents moving out of town. This was particularly hard for me because I’ve always lived in the same state as my mom and dad. I could go home whenever I wanted, my home base was only 45 minutes away, and I had that sort of “safe” feeling that was so comforting in the midst of everything else going on in my life. When I lost my job – all my energy went into finding a new one, and I quickly realized the time was approaching FAST that my parents were going to move. Not sure I really let it sink in because my focus was elsewhere – then all the sudden… they were gone. It was a weird feeling – not because I wasn’t happy for them because I definitely am, but because I felt like I didn’t give myself the time to appropriately say goodbye to the house I grew up in, or really grieve the impact of this change. It’s been a few months now – and it still hasn’t fully hit me, mainly because I haven’t gone back to my home town too much, or passed the house… but it’s been sad for me in different waves.

Let’s now talk about some positives that came from these changes! While it was rough – there is always some silver lining. One of them being I got to really focus on my blogging when I was unemployed. Did lots of stories, try ons, was able to take photos daily instead of jamming over a week’s worth into a Sunday afternoon, and got to connect with so many new bloggers by being more active in the app! It gave me a little taste of what it would be like to do this full time which was very cool.

My relationship with my sister got so MUCH STRONGER during this time. We’ve always been close – but we talked daily, weekly over the phone, and she constantly checked in on me, and I am so grateful for her and how she showed up for me during those two months. She’s also a powerhouse in the business world so not only was she helpful in just overall support – she guided me on interviews, my resume,and what I should really focus on when I’m looking for something new. There were so many things I knew I DIDN’T want in a new employer – but she really helped guide me on what she though I should look for and the type of manager I should be working for, based on how unhappy I was at the last employer. She gave me tough questions to ask people in interviews to make sure that what I was looking for , what was important to me… was actually important to them as managers, and that there was truly a support network behind the employer. Beyond grateful for her during this time – not sure I put that into words for her – so hopefully she is reading this now 🙂 Thank you Val, love you!

I’m so grateful that I had the bar. I worked extra shifts and picked up week nights and was able to make a lot more money than I usually do just working one night a weekend. Wasnt comparable to my normal income… so Getting my new job after two months and a week of being unemployed was like the AMEN Hallelujah I needed! It really took so much of my stress away that centered around my finances, routine, sense of contribution to society… and I started on a new adventure with an amazing company! This positive change however, has also been the reason I sunk into more a personal RUT… and here’s why.

My company is in the software industry – new to me and so much to learn. They’re very lax on when you show up, managing your time, and overall give you the autonomy to come and go as you please to get your work done. This is something new to me – so I decided to stick to my normal 8-5pm to get back into a regular routine. I also wanted to be in early to connect with our Berlin office (as most of our expertise is in Germany – and we only have a small window of time to connect due to the time change). I am beyond excited for this new role and all the opportunity at my new company – so I really wanted to have an open mind, learn as much as possible in the first few months, and really hit the ground running. I slowly realized my hours were turning into 8-6PM, then sometimes 7PM… then I got two new clients, both amazing – but demanding! I’m new – so things were taking longer to complete than what I expected and this caused a little extra stress. This increase in time at the office, and the overwhelming sense of “lack of experience” with what I was doing, … really started to weigh on me. This new stress carried over into my personal life in small ways that just piled up over time, and this past week I realized how bad of a RUT I was in.

To give you an idea of what I’m talking about… I was working early and coming home late. I was tired. Exhausted. Mentally exhausted. Physically exhausted. Was trying to take photos in between for the blog, or on lunch – but I’m not driving to work anymore so I couldn’t just toss my tripod and change of clothes in the car – that was a new stress I wasn’t used to in managing my time. I was running out of photos and taking quick ones that I wasn’t happy with, but I was tired so it was better than no photo. I would come home and face dive into my couch. I would lay there and watch mindless TV, fall asleep on my couch, not wash my face, sometimes I wouldn’t even change out of my work clothes, wasn’t cooking myself healthy meals – or any meals really, was ordering pizza, getting take out, and just honestly not paying attention to anything related to self care. My blogging took a dive – constantly running out of photos, not doing stories, not making time to do the thing I love the most that has been my baby for the past year. My apt was always messy – things out of place, dishes piling up, wasn’t doing my normal weekly vacuum and dusting like I should have. I was staying up till 11PM or midnight (something I never do) and really just wasn’t doing anything productive because in my head I needed “rest”. Rest is definitely needed, but I was straight up being LAZY. Coming home to a disaster of a living space daily does not reduce stress – it makes it worse! I should know these things by now.

I’ve also gained weight. I’m not calling myself fat, but I’m not happy with how I look and I think everyone can relate to this. Regardless of your natural body type – there are times when we know we look good, we feel good, we’re mentally looking at ourselves in a positive way. I am not in this place right now. I’ve been making bad eating choices, neglecting the gym and making excuses for months, using my “bad hip” as a reason to be scared to go for a run again, and honestly not loving what I see in the mirror. Clothes can hide a lot – so before you judge me or think that I’m already skinny, I’m not where I want to be…and I really have no one to blame but myself. I wasn’t making healthy eating habits a priority – or going to the gym. This is something that has always been important for me not only for the physical appearance aspect, but also my mental well being. Working out relieves stress, balances hormones, makes you happy, and really just detoxes the day from your body with a good sweat.

My habits in general were awful. Not eating right, not cleaning, not going to bed at a decent hour, not doing anything productive when I got home, laying around, sleeping to much on the weekends, not writing, not taking good pictures… I had no routine for myself outside of work – and that’s no longer OK. At work – my calendar is packed, color coded, timed perfectly with deadlines… I am a MACHINE with prioritizing and getting my projects done. Master at multitasking… so when I look at work Kelly… and everyday Kelly – where was this huge disconnect coming from? I needed some work Kelly back in my personal life and FAST.

Here’s some small things I’m doing to get back on track…

  1. Healthy Habits & New Routines. It’s so important to establish a nightly routine. For me this is going to be gym time, eating a healthy meal, washing my face, sitting down to relax with an hour of TV or reading a night MAX, writing, and going to bed at 9:30-10PM every night. I also need to make better eating choices during the day – I’ve started ordering Freshly meals to help with this! They’re easy to order, already made – just heat and eat, and very affordable! This takes the prep work out of meals, they’re easy to bring to the office for lunch, and I won’t be wasting food because I’m too tired to cook and it all goes bad!
  2. Clean. You would think this is a no brainer – but it’s the first thing to go for me when I feel busy. Put my laundry away, clean my dishes as I go and right after I’m done eating, keep my place vacuumed and dusted weekly, and get rid of anything that’s piling up I don’t need. All of these tasks takes minutes at most – but when you let it go it takes FOREVER to get back to normal. Keep it clean daily and this does not become and added stress.
  3. Prioritize. What is important to me? Working out, spending quality time with friends, reading, writing blog posts, taking photos, catching up with family, relaxing in a proactive way… this needs to be part of my daily routine. Not everyday – but managing my week and fitting in the important things is going to help. I also need to make sure I don’t take on too much. Saying no is OK if it means you need time to focus on yourself. My work calendar has been implemented into my daily life calendar. Color coded, important things first, and tasks that I need to stay on top of are now in my personal calendar!
  4. Weekends. My weekends look a little different than most, due to my bar tending. Late and long hours that keep me up till early am the next day. This adds to my exhaustion and usually means I don’t get done what I plan to because I sleep in late or lay around all day before my next shift starts. Going forward I’m making a schedule for weekends to make sure I can grocery shop, catch up on errands, spend time with friends, and get most of my photos and posts ready for the coming week. More importantly I cannot lay around all day. This just makes me more tired and when I realize I got NOTHING done… I stress.
  5. Managing Stress & Sleep. I see a therapist every Monday to stay level headed, talk about work, relationships, and overall move towards a better version of myself. I was skipping a lot – and this definitely added to the stress I already had. Being able to vent, speak through my issues, and work towards change is something I need to make a regular thing. I also need to manage my sleep schedule better. Just sleeping to sleep, or resting all day, or not moving from the couch can actually make me MORE tired. I need to go to bed a decent hour so I’m refreshed in the morning and ready to go. The later I stay up – the worse I feel the next day, and I hit snooze. This makes me rush in the morning, makes me late, and starts your day off with stress. No bueno. Rest is important, but I was taking it to an unhealthy level.
  6. Self Care. Most important. Take quality time for you when you need it! Wash your face, do a mask, give yourself a hair treatment, read a book, go for a run, get a small workout in, splurge on some new makeup or hair tools, get a massage, get your nails done, have a cocktail with your bestie, group chat about your fav show… all these small things should not be a “treat” or something you do “if” you have time. Make time for you! Also – Multi Task! Want to do a face mask but also need to make dinner? Put on that mask and cook at the same time. Need to tackle 6 loads of laundry – but also need a bubble bath? Put that load in and soak yourself for 30 minutes during the wash cycle. Need to call your mom, sister, bestie? Chat for 30 minutes AND clean our your closet. Be productive while taking care of yourself.

I have gotten away from so many basic and small routines and honestly just needed to detox my life this weekend. Today starts a new healthier version of me and I hope you all hold me accountable. I hope this also helps you realize that life happens, and you can make simple choices to slowly turn everything around for yourself. Change happens, life happens, relationships happen… but you still need to focus on YOU first. I’ve let myself slip and it really does effect every aspect of my life in ways I didn’t realize until they piled up and exploded. This weekend I did all these things and got back on track, made a schedule for this week which included work, afterwork schedule, working out, healthy eating, and everyday minor reminders for tasks – and I already feel so much better. Long way to go – but I already feel like my RUT is on it’s way behind me.

What are things you do to manage healthy habits? I want to hear your ideas… Leave your comments!

5 Ways to Better Manage Your Time & Maximize the Day!

For anyone who knows me, they know I can pack a million things into my day/week and still make time for all the things I love to do, and see the people I want to see. Some weeks I do sacrifice a social life, but I try to maximize my time as much as possible to make room for friends, family, and me time. I work full time and bartend on the weekends. Every Sunday I wake up early and go help out my bar with accounting work for two hours. In between those two jobs, I usually bake on average two cakes a month, and somewhere on top of that I added blogging to my schedule – which means writing and photo taking on the weekends. I cook almost every single day for myself, and work out three times a week currently. On Monday night I see my therapist – much needed as I need time to vent and mentally be in a healthy place so I can stay on top of my goals.

My advice to anyone feeling like they cant get it all done is to stay on schedule and be creative with your day to get in the things you love to do! I try and pack most of my to-do things into my mornings and lunch breaks, and use home delivery services for groceries and shopping to save time running around to stores for errands. Everyone’s jobs are different, and thankfully I do not take my day job home with me very often, so this allows me to pack my day accordingly. How do I fit it all in? Well here are my five ways to help manage your time and make sure you get it all done!

  1. On Sunday – plan out your weekly schedule and meal prep!  I am a list queen! I seriously write everything down and own about three journals and two calendars just for this purpose. Writing it down does two things for me – sets a schedule to keep me on track, and helps keep it fresh in my head. This is the day I map out my week in terms of work schedule, meetings, photo/collaboration posting, fitness schedule, meal prepping, errands, photo taking, and everything else in between. This way I know what’s coming and can be prepared. I map out a daily schedule and force myself to stick to it. Meal prep!!! This is seriously such a time and life saver for me. You can make 5 meals in under thirty minutes and have your lunches for the week ready to go. I usually make 4-5 chicken breasts, and bake 4-5 different cut up vegetables and potatoes in the oven all on one big sheet pan. Cook up some rice, dice up some fruit, and you can pack your chicken, rice, veggie sides, and a cup of fruit for lunch daily. Diced fruit is also so handy to have for smoothies on the run. Milk of your choice, ice, fruit, spinach, and some protein powder in the morning make for an awesome breakfast on the go, and having this all diced and ready saves so much time! Also helps you save money during the week because you wont be eating out as much. WINNING!
  2. Be creative with your work schedule. You never know if you don’t ask, but talk to your boss about a flexible work schedule. Most will not mind you adjusting a half hour here or there to get in a workout on your lunch break! I used to come in half hour early to take an hour and a half lunch three times a week. This allowed me to get to the gym, work out for around 50-60 minutes, rinse off and get back to work in under 90 minutes. Also- lunch workouts are the bomb! You are forced to power through a great workout in little time, do not have as much time to rest in between, play around on your phone, or get distracted by anything because you’re on a major time crunch! Such an energy boost in the middle of your day too. If you meal prep – this also makes it easy to eat at your desk after you return from your workout. Let’s be honest there are so many days I work through my lunch anyways, so eating and powering through emails at the same time does not bother me. You can also run errands on your lunch break, and some days I also take photos! Bring an outfit or two in my car and use that time to shoot a couple looks! I personally want to have most of my nights free to relax, make dinner, and work on my blog – so lunch breaks rarely mean lunch for me, but I love it that way.
  3. Be able to adjust if something throws off your schedule. AHHHH the worst right? Nothing like a meeting being tossed into your schedule last minute when you’re planning on working out, running errands, or trying to get a quick mani on your lunch break. HUGE bummer. No fear, go back to your weekly plan and see where you can adjust to make sure the YOU things are not skipped. This is so important to me. I try to NEVER skip anything that I know makes me a better person and levels me. Working out, therapy, personal indulgences, dinners with friends… I will do whatever I can to not cancel them, and move my day around accordingly. If I wanted to run on my lunch break for 45 minutes, I simply run as soon as I get home or move it to the next morning before work. Having my nights free is my end goal, but I’m not gonna cry if I have to spend a small amount of time getting something done after work.  This also works if something fun pops up! Nice weather – girls want to get together last minute for a fun after work dinner… move that run to the AM and get some quality time in with your peeps! No excuses… get it done if it’s part of your daily plan.
  4. Amazon prime and grocery delivery services are your new best friends. If you are not using Amazon prime in your regular routine – you’re not doing life right! This is huge if you live in a big city – or anywhere really. Pricing for prime members is amazing, and most of your everyday products for laundry, cleaning, grocery, household items, makeup, skincare, even clothing/shoes, you name it they have it… all ships in 1-2 days for free. AMEN. This removes shopping from my busy schedule and for a few dollars, I can pay extra for next day delivery. When you live in the city, parking comes at a cost, and most pricing is marked up at places like Walgreens and CVS because of convenience. My mascara is $6 on Amazon vs $12.99 in the store! That mark up adds up after a while! I do love grocery shopping when I have time – but recently discovered Peapod and Instacart and LOVE it. I typically get the same things, and can just reorder my cart and have it delivered next day! Wohoo! Instacart allows you to pick different stores for select items, and someone shops for you and can have it to you in an hour! WHAAA??? I know – awesomeness. Grub hub, door dash, post mates – lots of amazing apps for grocery and food delivery. Again, for a small fee, anything you want is delivered at the speed of light and saves major time. AHHH-mazing.
  5. Set reminders in your calendar. Let’s be real for a moment – I can write lists all day but for the big stuff… put it in your calendar and set a reminder alarm for the day before, and then a second for the day of (30 min to hour before). I can remember most things on my own… but I’m getting old and less talented at staying COMPLETELY organized, and there are days where my brain is complete mush! I need that phone to go off reminding me that something is there that may not be “routine” – like a hair appointment, dr. appointment, dinner with friends, brunch with Mom, siblings are in town, time shop for that cake you’re making next weekend… etc. Use a calendar that syncs to all devices. I have Apple everything, so this works well to just use the app that comes on the phone – and it loads to all my devices. Hooooray!

Those are my best tips ! In general – the only other thing I will say is to just be organized and tidy as much as possible. Sounds so simple, but the busier we get, sometimes we let things go in terms of cleanliness of living space. Water bottles everywhere, laundry piles all over – dirty or clean, things out where they shouldn’t be, three weeks of mail stacked on the kitchen table, piles of dishes… etc. Sometimes I just sleep on my couch because I’m too tired to put my clean sheets on my bed, haha so ridiculous but hey that’s life! When you’re juggling busy days end on end, coming home to a clean and clutter free space will help keep you calm and will reduce anxiety and stress. When I have a hard day – packed with work and everything else – and maybe something happened to make me a little emotional, or sad, or agitated… coming home to an apt that looks like a bomb went off just irritates me that much more.

So on top of my five tips… little things make the biggest difference. Do your dishes as soon as you’re done eating, hang up your coat when you get home, put away your shoes, fold your laundry immediately and put it away, keep your jewelry and accessories neat and organized daily… vacuum when you have a few extra minutes and wipe down your bathroom counter tops. All these things will help keep you tidy so that when you are in a hurry – the things you need are all where they’re supposed to be! These couple extra minutes a day will save you an entire day on the weekend of cleaning! BOOOOORING… it’s spring time and no one wants to be inside doing a three hour deep scrub when it’s nice and sunny outside!

How do you master time management? Comment below!! I’d love to hear your tips and tricks!

My Journey to Blogging

I’ve been asked a lot recently to tell my blogging story – the why, the when, and all the reasons I added this crazy world of daily Instagram posting and writing to my life. As we enter a new year, and I have my feet under me a little… I want to start writing about more personal things so you can get to know me better, in addition to the fashion and beauty posts.

Well let’s start at the beginning. I didn’t really know blogging was a “thing” until a few years ago. I stumbled upon a couple bloggers named Alyson Hayley and Lauren Kay Sims… and through following them, I was opened up into the world of fashion and the LIKEtoKNOW.it app – and the way I shopped for clothes and beauty products completely changed. I waited for their posts daily and was not only getting advice on how to style clothes, I could shop the things I loved right off their Instagram posts. As soon as I liked the photo (now you have to screenshot), an email was sent to me with links to everything she was wearing. I found myself buying smarter pieces that I could style different ways, and also got new ideas on how to mix color and pattern, or use the clothes I already had to create a look Alyson and Lauren were wearing. So easy and helpful.

I’ve always loved style and fashion, but this blogger world was inspiring to me. These girls were making a living on their own by supporting brands they love and giving other women advice on how to dress for their body type, what skincare to use, workout tips, meal recipes, posting daily on what stores had the best sales… they literally were doing the work for me. I was buying everything! For the next year or two I followed probably 50+ bloggers who’s styles I loved and continued to shop and admire their photos. Mostly I admired how honestly convincing they were, and how someone I didn’t even know had such an impact on me and my purchasing decisions. I loved how I could watch in their stories how a product worked, or the fit of a top, or ask what size they were wearing for a reference – and they would answer! They gave honest opinions – good or bad – on products so we as an audience could make our own decision through their influence.

I started my blog in May of 2018… I wish I had started it earlier, however I wasn’t in a good headspace at the time. It may come as a shock to you but I don’t love taking photos of myself. Occasionally I see one of me and I think “oh I look really cute” but usually I would just look at a photo and dismiss everything I see. As women, I feel that is something we all do on a daily basis. I saw these bloggers as inspiring – but would also envy how beautiful they were, or their toned abs, or their gorgeous homes and think – OK I can’t do this till I start working out, or get a better apartment. They were posting twice a day sometimes three… and I could never fit that into my life with a full time job AND bar tending on the weekends. There’s also so many girls already doing this, so why would anyone want to follow me? Every excuse I could think of I threw at myself as a reason I wouldn’t be successful if I tried.

I also had a string of not so great relationships.. and when I say string I mean about 6 years of trying to make it work with not the right people. Not bad people per say, just a lot of time spent an energy exhausted where it shouldn’t have gone. Pair that with jobs that I was either struggling in, or felt like I didn’t quite fit. This all added up to a not so happy Kelly. I was anxious, I was reacting to situations in ways I shouldn’t have, and was holding onto a lot of anger. I started seeing a therapist, and after a lot of hard work week after week… I was starting to feel like my old happy self again. Not every day… but a vast improvement from where I was.

In January, I had a major hip surgery. I trained the entire 2017 for triathlons and torn the labrum in my right hip. Also had some bone damage due to that protective cartilage wall being broken through. I had this repaired, and had 8 weeks of downtime in a massive brace that didn’t allow me much freedom. If you all know me… downtime is not my jam, ha! I work full time, bar tend on the weekends, and bake cakes! Free time is not something I’m used to. I was kinda like, OK… now what? I watched way too much TV for a couple weeks and decided that… I’m gonna start a blog! I’ve never built a website… how hard can it be right? Turns out not super hard… but not super easy either. Now that I know what I’m doing it’s a breeze, but I’m glad I used those 6 weeks to build up my site, write some post, fill up the site with some photos… so I was ready to launch on May 1st.

I knew before the surgery that this was the year I was going to put all my energy into myself. Something I hadn’t done in a long time. I spent months researching blogging, reached out to TONS of bloggers I had been following forever, and waited for responses. Some answered, some didn’t, but overall I was able to gather up enough info to really figure out what I wanted to do, how I was going to accomplish this on my own, and work this into my already insane schedule. My bonus hit in March, I loaded up my closet, and started taking pictures with my mom, some friends, and eventually just started attacking the photo game on my own.

GIRL get yourself a tripod and remote blue tooth clicker! GAME CHANGER! Did you know I take all of my photos myself? YUP! You can’t tell (most of the time) but I’m holding a remote in every photo. It’s super small and I can hide it in my hand that holds my purse, behind a prop, in my hair…wherever and stand in front of my camera and click away. You can lower the tripod, raise it up, walk in front of it for an action shot, sit down in front of it… once you have no shame that someone passing by may think you’re a creep, just gets easier and easier! You’ll know the best ways to stand, how to tilt your head, what smile to use for each photo etc. I don’t have time to schedule big shoots with friends anymore. I’m also terrible at asking for help and don’t like to bother my friends… so this is just the best option for me. So I pack up one or two looks every couple days and head out on my lunch break, change in my car, and shot some looks in under half an hour in back alleys where I can find cool walls. In the summer I go after work since it’s still light out. Sometimes I snap a pic BEFORE work if I’m running early… just so much easier to squeeze it in on my own time and not worry about who can help me. Sunny days are the WORST for photos, while cloudy days are the best – no shadows! I’ve never watched the weather so much in my life!

I will tell you… this is NOT an easy thing to do. People may look at your photos daily and think “oh cute”, or that the outfit in the picture IS exactly what I’m wearing that day – yeah, not so much. I take anywhere from 2-8 looks at a time and they’re all different depending on what collabs I have coming up or sales I know are on the horizon. You have to keep up with sales, watch the clothes you’ve already got for when they get marked down, hope that what you bought doesn’t sell out by the time you can take a photo and post it. You have to make sure when you throw up a photo you have some way for followers to shop your look – whether that’s a blog post or LIKEtoKNOW.it app, or ShopStyle! Oh, and you don’t make money in the beginning! HOORAY all this work for no mula… ha. It takes a couple months of photos to be able to even to apply to RewardStyle or ShopStyle… and I think this is where most people give up. It’s not worth it. This is too hard. Why am I doing this?

Trust me… this isn’t the easiest and can be stressful… however, all that being said – oh how rewarding this whole experience is! The girls…omg they’re the best and so supportive. If you ever want to feel great or be uplifted… throw up a post and watch the comments flow in on how much they “love your look, THOSE SHOES GF, Omg you’re the cutest EVER, I love your style” it is literally blogger fuel that keeps you going. I’ve connected with some many amazing people who uplift me everyday and encourage me to keep going. You’ll get your first collaboration with a brand and it’s like THE BEST feeling. As you grow you can start charging for posts, you’ll make money when people shop your looks, and things just start to feel really positive. Maybe that takes a few months, maybe a year, maybe two years but you just have to keep going for YOU!

I picked affordable and versatile style because that’s what I buy on a regular basis. Classic and fun pieces that can be worn to work and out, and in multiple ways. I don’t make superstar money (yet) and need to stretch my budget as much as possible. I think other women have that same issue. We all stare at our closets and were like OMG I HAVE NOTHING TO WEAR! Um yes you do girlfriend… you’re just defaulting to always pairing the same thing together every time. Rock that t-shirt dress with some booties and a denim jacket, tie a flannel around it with some sneakers and a ball cap, wear a chunky long sweater over it with knee high boots in the winter… these are all things I wanted to help others do, with clothes they already have, or show them… hey this dress is $50 but you can wear it all year round and to multiple occasions, and this is how. See below!

I stayed in this niche… and posted daily about sales, style this three ways, remember this top from last month? It’s now on sale… and I kept pushing this. Eventually I broke into some skincare… haircare… and some apartment decor. I think that’s what helped me do well. I didn’t take on too much in the beginning. I didn’t want people to be confused on why they were following me and drop off. You get enough drop off in this world as it is… so less confusion was better for me. Maybe you all want to see more? Ha, IDK?!?!

Growth is a journey in any business, and in this one… it can take off, it can be slow, it can go backwards and forwards at the same time. You wake up with 30 new followers and somehow your number stayed the same… DAMMMNIT people stop following, ha! One post gets 1000+ likes and the next one gets 258, ugh WUT? How is this happening? Instagram changes its algorithm all the time and makes it hard for us blogger babes to grow and be seen unless we spend 10 hours a day on the app. With two jobs I just don’t have that luxury, so I do the best I can. I go all in with anything I take on. Take pictures at 7 am, take photos on lunch, film stories at night that I wont be posting for a couple days out, plan my photos for the week on Sunday and get the lined up, take small breaks at work throughout the day to engage like crazy, make sure everything is linked in LIKEtoKNOW.it before so I’m ready to fire off looks whenever I need to, go to events to meet other bloggers, learn from their experiences, I still reach out and ask for help, and research every way possible to keep this journey going strong!

This year is a whole new year and I’m going to put a lot more on the table. Fashion, Hair, Beauty, Skincare, Fitness… and more personal posts like this one. I am going to try and bring you into my life a little bit more with stories – however I am kinda boring so don’t get too excited haha! This is something that makes me so happy. And if you’re thinking about doing this, and you’re not sure if you can, or if people will follow you or support you, or you are afraid of putting yourself out there… know that all of us feel that same way at times. I’m just now starting to feel comfortable in front of the camera and while it makes it easier, it still makes me nervous ever time I post.

While I want to paint a real picture for you, I also want you to know that if you’re a mom with kids, or work two jobs like I do, or just work one job, or volunteer, or you don’t have a ton of money, or you have a crap load of money but maybe are super self conscious… if this is something you think about, or want to do… DO IT! Nothing can stop you. Look at me… I’M NUTS! Haha literally everyday I’m tired and think “what did I get myself into?” but its like a high for me at the same time. Man do I love the pressure of being out of photos and wanting to post the next morning at 8 AM! Oh, it’s pouring? SHIIITTTT…. get that photo in the car, whip out a flatlay, or find somewhere inside that’s fun…. YOU CAN DO THIS! If I can you can… and I hope this gave you a little insight to what I do on a daily basis! Thank you for following and liking and commenting and keeping this dream alive – you ALL are the reason I keep going!

How to get the WHITEST teeth with Smile Br!lliant!

I’m teaming up with Smile Br!lliant to give YOU the chance to win a free whitening kit!
Head here to enter the giveaway:

www.smilebrilliant.com/g/sugarcoatedandchic 

This teeth whitening journey I’ve been on lately has been really exciting for me! I was born with naturally yellower teeth – if that’s a word, and have tried multiple types of whitening toothpastes, white stripes, whitening tray programs from the dentist, etc. While I did notice a change right after the stripes were removed, it never seemed to hold, and I was forced to constantly repeat the whitening cycle over and over again.

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Strips are also not cheap! Each time you buy them, it will cost you around $40-$80 and without lasting results, that can be disappointing. Being a coffee lover, I need a whitening program that works for me, fits into my budget, and gives noticeable results that last. Thankfully, I found Smile Brilliant! The #1 Dentist recommended teeth whitening system using custom fitted trays – for only $150!

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There are MULTIPLE reasons this whitening program was a game changer for me! First and most important… it worked! I finished my program about 3 weeks ago and my teeth are still brighter and look great! The reason Smile Brilliant works so well are their custom fit trays. When you purchase a kit – you are set a package to make an impression and exact mold of your teeth. You mail these back, and within a week you are sent your own custom trays that fit your mouth perfectly. This means that every nook and cranny of your teeth will be coated in the whitening gel every time you whiten. You also have these trays for life, and unless you decide to get braces or alter your bite – these will continue to be useful for you. This same type of mold could cost up to $500 from your dentist!

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The other thing I loved about this program is the options for kits. There are different levels of whitening you can choose from depending on how stained your teeth are and your sensitivity level! This makes for six options… heavy stains, average stains, light stains – for both non-sensitive and sensitive teeth! I choose the average stains for sensitive teeth.

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Speaking of sensitive – is it not the worst when you have to whiten daily, and you can barely drink anything hot or cold, bite into food, or chew without extreme sensitivity? Awful! This system not only comes with whitening gel, but includes a desensitizing gel as well! After you whiten, you rinse out your teeth trays and fill them with the desensitizing gel and leave it on for as long as you need. For me I would do this for about 20-30 min – and it was a game changer. I could whiten daily with no sensitivity, which allowed me to go through the process at rapid speed and see noticeable results.

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I’m so excited about my results, and happy that this opportunity came my way! This program comes with a 100% guarantee – and the ability to consult with anyone at anytime if you have questions of concerns. The customer service was especially great and they were so helpful in guiding me to making adjustments to my routine if I felt more sensitivity than normal. You can also order more whitening gel and desensitizing gel down the road if you feel you need a touch-up – amazing!

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I’m teaming up with Smile Br!lliant to give YOU the chance to win a free whitening kit!
Head here to enter the giveaway:

www.smilebrilliant.com/g/sugarcoatedandchic 

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Both these photos are unedited… the lighting was slightly different but you can see a big difference in the before and after!


Tooth Whitening Gel

Caseapp!

Caseapp is such a fun way to make unique and custom made phone cases and laptop skins. I was so excited to partner with them and create my own phone cases! As a blogger and style influencer, my phone is my sidekick and is always with me. Whether I’m writing posts, scheduling my day, supporting my other blogger babes, or linking my looks to my social media platforms… my phone is always with me. Why not make it super cute and chic?

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What I love about Caseapp is how easy it was to create my own cases! Not creative? No worries! They have a lot of free designs you can use in one easy click! I found a print that I loved through google and pinterest, and used that as the background of my floral print design. I love the blush tones and black, and the pops of green reminds me of summer and fall! After I stretched this print they way I liked, all you do is save it to your cart! You can use a photo, create text on any design, or combine any prints you want!

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My second option was a quote “hustle darling” with a little heart at the end. I love this so much because it’s so accurate to my daily life. I work two jobs for my main source of income… full time and bar tending. I also make custom cakes and cupcakes on the side, and blog daily. All these things can be overwhelming and hard to schedule… there are days where I don’t feel I have the energy or time to fit it all in, but this little saying keeps me going! You have to hustle to make it to your end goal… whatever that is! Mine is to one day work for myself – and in order to get there, I have to HUSTLE Darling! I picked the pink and black to go with the other phone and create a set that I can swap back and forth!

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I am definitely going to make more, and a lap top skin, because it was SO easy and super fun! The shipping is fast and its super affordable! Even more affordable with my discount code! Use code KELLYMIKITA20 for 20% off your own designs! Whether you create a phone case, skin, or laptop skin – there are options for every type of phone and computer – you will get 20% off your entire order! This code is good through 9/14/2018! Get to it!

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My Dad, My Hero

I am so blessed to have the father that I do. From day one, he has been my hero. He is kind, funny, smart, compassionate, and the most supportive Dad out there. Growing up I never remember him not being there! He was and still is a pilot and was gone for stretches of days at a time – and according to my mom, actually did miss a lot and was always worried we would remember him not making every swim meet, or every dance recital, or cross country meets. I always remember both of my parents being there for everything… and if my Dad did miss something, he was on the phone that night recapping every little detail with us! From building swing sets, fixing owwies, giving me and my siblings that “tough love” when we needed it, sitting through countless all day swim meets and dance competitions, teaching us how to drive, packing our school lunches and drawing funny things on our napkins… my dad has been there through it all.

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To this day I can still count on him for anything. Literally anything. He will always guide me and point me in the right direction if I’m having a tough time, help push me to figure it out on my own, and instead of just bailing me out – he makes sure I know I have the ability to fix/solve/do anything without relying on others. For this I am forever grateful. I have struggled financially pretty much most of my adult life, had some emotional issues, tough relationship problems… and my Dad always makes me feel like I am strong enough to power through, even if I don’t feel that way myself. I think it’s easy for people to just jump in and save you… but he has always taught me to stand on my own two feet and figure out my own way to stay on top!

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I can also count on him for all the DIY knowledge a girl could ever need! I know how to hang shelves and other heavy wall art, use a power drill, paint, stain, build kitchen tables, put anything together, refurbish old furniture…. etc. I love learning this stuff from my dad because we can spend a whole afternoon together making a new piece of furniture for my apt. Even in my 30’s I still love learning these things from him. He’s so good at wood working, building furniture, helping my Mom make her design ideas come to life… and I love that some of this knowledge is being passed down to me. It’s so fun to have things in my home that I actually made, or something I can point to and say “yea… I hung that on my own and it’s straight!” Saves me money, and I get some quality time in with Dad.

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I also love my Dad because he’s got three very different children, and lets us all be our own person and live life how we choose. My little brother has the quintessential “nerd brain,” wrapped up in a cool dude outer shell! He’s an engineer for Boeing and works on designing the planes that my dad currently flies! So cool. He and my Dad can go on for hours talking about work and planes. My sister is a rockstar in sales and has the best relationships with her clients. She’s loves her wine and wiskey, and she and my Dad can stand in the kitchen for hours and talk shop over a bottle of… well anything! I’m kinda the child that’s a little all over the place, ha! I work so many jobs and am constantly finding new things to put my creativity to good use. My Dad is so supportive and interested in all our lives. He takes care of us still to this day in terms of unconditional enthusiasm for everything we are doing.

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This year has been a little rough for me… I’ve had some wonderful things happen, but also some things that I couldn’t have gone through without my Dad. Earlier in the year I had a surgery on my hip. My Dad met me at the hospital and stayed with me that entire day making sure I was OK and calming my nerves. He also played nurse for the next week! Put me up in our family home, fed me, helped me get up and around, and changed my ice in the middle of the night for a week. I don’t honestly know what I would have done if he didn’t live so close! I also had some car issues during the time I was in my hip brace and couldn’t drive. My poor father had to drive back and forth from the city, driving my car for me, driving it back to the shop when it wasn’t fixed right the first time… and THEN they told us to drive it 100 miles before we went and got my emissions test. Without a complaint in the world… he did all this for me. When I got in my car accident a few weeks ago, he was the first person I called to tell I was OK. There’s just something about your Dad knowing what to do in these situations that just makes life so easy to navigate through in tough times.

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I could go on and on… but on Father’s Day… cheers to the guy who makes all the other dads come in second place! Love you!

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The 5 Most Valuable Things My Mom Taught Me

Celebrating my mom is not something I need a special day for, however on actual Mother’s day… I get to shower my mom with love, a little present, and the best gift of all – time with her most amazing middle child, me! I am blessed to live close to my mom so I can spend these times with her and spoil her with a fun brunch in Chicago!

Fitting that we went to a new Hawaiian inspired restaurant called Mahalo – which means “thank you”. I have so many things to thank my mom for! My great hair and big eyes, my creative side, and countless times she’s kept me above water when I felt like I was going to inevitably drown. She’s always been there for me, and I owe a lot of my character and who I am today to my mother.

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The five best things my mother taught me are things that have shaped me and made me a better person. I try to relate back to them as much as possible if I’m going through a rough time, struggling at my job, feeling lonely, and also when everything feels like it’s going right!

  1. It’s never too late to start anything. I debated for over a year whether or not to start my blog… was I too old? Was it too late in life to jump into something new? And then I remember all the times my mom decided to do something new – and she didn’t just take a leap of faith and casually stroll through her new venture, she goes all in! My mother was a stay at home mom when we were younger, but when I was in high school, she decided to jump into real estate. At the time, I was like “ok cool” this will be fun for her! This woman put so much work into putting her brand out there, selling herself, her value… marketing herself in every way possible. Today she is one of the top agents in the state – and works harder than anyone I know. A couple years ago she also decided to join a gym to help her lose weight, feel better about herself, and improve her health. She is 60+(ish) years old – ha, I wont reveal, and is still so dedicated and works out 5-6 times per week! She is the best shape she’s ever been, lost a LOT of weight, is so much healthier… and is more active than ever! It’s never too late to start anything if it’s important to you.
  2.  Family can have so many meanings. My mom has taught me that family doesn’t always mean what you’re born into. Family can be anyone you surround yourself with who support you, uplift you, embrace who you are, and love you as you are. Thankfully my core immediate family is super close, and we will remain that way hopefully forever… but not everyone has that same bond with their parents, siblings, extended family, etc. For whatever the reason – sometimes other people in your life are more “family” than blood relatives, and those relationships are so important to hang onto. Family can be anyone, any group, any relationship that adds value to your life and is worth holding onto. My mom has the strongest network of women behind her who are all basically sisters to her and it’s so amazing to see them support each other.
  3. Stand tall and strong, no matter who or what tries to push you down. Much easier said than done, but my Mom is one of the strongest people I know. She has been through a lot in her life, but always has a way of coming out on top. She is always the bigger person, the bigger heart, and stays true to herself in any situation regardless of what others may think or feel about it. This is something that is hard for me everyday. I always worry about what people think, what are they going to say, why is this person constantly trying to bring me down? There will always be those people in your life who have an opinion you didn’t ask for, or judge you just because. My mom is always putting herself first and staying true to everything she values and her own morals- without everything else ever getting in the way. It’s something I hope to be as good at someday, and will continue to fight to be as strong as she is.
  4. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Asking for help is not one of my strengths. I like to do things on my own, get through things on my own, and think that if I do it myself without help I am the winner! However, bottling everything up, or keeping feelings on lock down is not always the best way to handle things. This is especially true for emotions. Talk to someone, open up, see a therapist… all of these options do not mean you’re weak – they mean you’re human. Why sit and stew and try and figure it out when there are people out there who CAN and WANT to help. This applies to relationships, jobs, financial issues… anything really. Ask for help! My mom has never been afraid to ask for help whether its something small, a big project, when it comes to sorting out emotions – and unapologetically asks for help when needed. This is something I think is so brave.
  5.  Do you. We can change who we are to better ourselves, but also love who we are everyday. My mom is funny, cute, loves her kids to death, loves shopping, her friends, hosting parties, collecting napkins and straws, works even on vacation, takes a million pictures even when we all whine and complain after the 100’th one and make funny faces at her… but she is herself everyday. Even when we are the most annoying version of ourselves, or the funniest, or the most confident – be yourself everyday and value your worth.

There are probable a million other things my mom has taught me… but these are the five I am most grateful of! I don’t know what I would do without her, and I am so blessed to have her in my life everyday. Happy Mother’s day Momma… you are the WINNER of today… and all days! Love you so much and thank you for being you and being the glue that holds our perfect family together.

 

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The Road to Recovery

In January of 2017, I started training to compete in triathlons. Why not, right? I was feeling really healthy and wanted to tackle a physical challenge while I still could. I was a competitive swimmer for my entire childhood, could run a few miles once or twice a week, and my dad and brother were (and still are) avid cyclists… so I figured why not? It would be a challenge, and something truly rewarding once I crossed that finish line! So I bought a bike – and the training began.

A little about me… I stay as busy as possible. Sometimes I wonder how I manage to function day to day – but I make it happen! I work full time, bar tend on the weekends for extra mula, help out the bar with some accounting work every Sunday morning, and somehow find the time to make a few cakes each month! I am constantly on the go with work, and my social calendar. Where on earth was I going to fit in training for the two triathlons I signed up for in June and August of 2017? Early AM… and lunch break work out sessions were the answer!

Three to four times a week I packed two gym bags – one for the morning, and one for the afternoon. Each day got up at 4:30 am, drove to the gym close to my office, swam for an hour and a half, then got ready and went to work. My boss at the time was (still is) super stellar and let me come in half hour early – to give me an hour and a half lunch break. So – back to the gym I went for 50 minutes, running as far as I could on the treadmill before taking a quick shower and punching back into work! The days I didn’t double up at the gym, I was biking the 12 miles each way to and from my office, backpack in tow with a change of clothes. Outside of that, I was running after work when I got home, and on the weekends I would train for about 2 -3 hours a day. Swim bike run, swim bike run!

Guuuuuurrrl, I was in the best shape of my life! I felt amazing, strong, confident (for the first time in a while) – like I could take on the world! The best part of all that working out was I actually enjoyed it. It was a high, and helped so much with stress relief. Regardless of how tired I was in the morning, jumping into that pool did the trick. If you’ve ever been a swimmer – that is quite possibly the hardest part of practice… jumping into that frigged water. The only way to warm up is to get moving!

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In May, I started noticing some pain in my right hip. Sometimes it would travel down to my knee. Did a little research, and was told my IT band was most likely really tight. Foam rolled that out as much as possible, and the pain in my knee went away… but the hip pain continued to get worse. I completed my first Olympic triathlon in June! It was definitely hard – and although I wasn’t thrilled with my results, I was eager to improve my time in August. Rested for a week… then was back at it. The pain in my hip at this point was constant – even when I wasn’t training. A week before my second race was approaching, I went on a long bike ride, and could barely walk later that night. Long story short – went to an orthopedic doctor at Northwestern, and the diagnosis was a labral tear.

No second race for this lady. The months that followed were full of x-rays, physical therapy, and MRI’s. A labral tear does not heal on it’s own due to the location in your hip, and the fact that there is little blood flow running through that joint. If you don’t have surgery, your ball joint will keep rubbing against the socket wall – causing a lot of pain and bone inflammation, and the possibility of developing arthritis is imminent. The only way to fix it is to have surgery. Major bummer – and what was more frustrating was that I could no longer run or workout. Every major movement in your lower body goes through that joint.

Patience: a virtue, is right! When someone tells you you can’t do your normal routine, can’t run, can’t workout… that’s literally all you want to do. In order to be approved for surgery – you have to show you made effort to heal the issue through PT. While we knew that wouldn’t work, the stretching and exercised I learned did help curb the pain. The insurance company gave my case the run around for about two months… so my patience at this point was running thin. As much as I didn’t love the idea of surgery – I wanted it over and done with so I could get back out there. The recovery for this surgery is 24 weeks. UGH! Thankfully this procedure is done through three little probes – so scaring is minimal considering the amount of work they did.

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The first six weeks you’re in a hip brace. This contraption can only be described as a modern day chastity belt! It was thick plastic that wrapped around your hips and waist and down to your upper thigh. It was connected by a large metal bar, that restricted your leg from bending past 30 degrees. This is to protect the joint and let it heal properly. Uncomfortable to say the least, especially when you’re forced to sleep in it!

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There is literally no rushing the healing process – and man was it hard and lonely. The smallest things took so much effort. Tying my shoes was impossible (amen to slip on tennis shoes), putting on clothes was a trick, and getting up and down was more of a roll/lunge onto the good side until you could push and stand upright. Six. Freaking. Weeks. So grateful to have my Mom and Dad so close – they put me up for the first week, and nursed me back to the point where I was OK on my own. However when you’re 33, and relying on mom to help you get out of bed, get dressed, shower, and keep you from falling over… makes you feel a tad helpless! I just wanted to get better – and throw that brace out the window!

The excitement of my days when I got back to the city was simply hobbling down the block to Walgreens or Chipotle, just so I could get out of the house and into the fresh air. I went from working two jobs and baking, to nothing… and could do nothing but rest from the time I woke up to the time I went back to bed. I watched everything on TV, Netflix, HBO Go… and read three books! If you know me, you can applaud the book reading, since it’s something I never do. My parents did their best to keep me company, and I saw my friends a few times on the weekends – but getting ready with that brace, getting in and out of Ubers, and just general standing/sitting was so difficult that hibernation was the best option.  It made me so hot because the plastic piece wrapped all the way around my stomach and back. I had to wear a tank under it to protect my skin, and then another shirt over it, then struggle with the smallest movements – so I would get hot and flustered instantly! My mom’s best friend named by brace “Sweaty Betty”! I still refer to it as that name to this day, ha!

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I am 12 weeks post op currently, and moving along really well in my PT program at Athletico. Shout out to my instructor Erin W! She is seriously the bomb and has been with me through this entire process. I feel like we are besties (I mean she may feel differently, ha) and I can tell her anything, which makes the process so much more comfortable. I saw her before my surgery for 10 weeks, and currently see her twice a week now for my post op recovery. Mainly working on flexibility and stretching the joint to break up the scar tissue, and some strength exercises to balance out my weight back onto both sides. I was told in two more weeks I can possibly start the “back to run” program which will be so exciting… HOORAY! Already bought new running shoes to celebrate the occasion – I mean, duh!

My advice to anyone who has any type of physical set back, an injury, or undergoes surgery is to just be patient and not push yourself. Even the smallest amount of progress needs to be celebrated, and not compared to what you could do before your set back. Let your body tell you how it’s doing… and listen. As hard as those six weeks were for me, and as hard as I know the next 12 will be, I truly believe my body needed all that rest – and frankly so did my brain. I kept Sweaty Betty on, I followed all the rules, and I’m healing wonderfully. It is so important to physically and mentally be on the same page when it comes to all things fitness. My mind was telling me to “go go go”, but my hip was screaming for me to slow down. If something doesn’t feel right – go get it checked out! I look forward to competing again in the future… but for now, I’m content with the slow and steady comeback!