Giving back through Kiva

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The best part about wrapping up a quarter is spending time deciding where to invest a portion of my profits. I've been partnering with Kiva for over a year and continue to be inspired by women entrepreneurs all over the world.

For my second quarter investment, I've chosen to lend to Georgina in Ghana. Here is a little of Georgina's story:

Georgina is 48 years of age and a single mother with four between the ages of 20 and 14. She sells assorted breads in the market and to passersby along the roadside of Accra. She has been doing this business for the past 13 years.

Her major challenge is limited funds to buy more bread from the bakery to sell.

With this loan she will be able to increase her working capital to enable her buy more bread to sell and distribute to the porridge sellers in and around the market. The profit will support her children in their education and enhance their living condition.

Georgina’s hope for her business in the future is to acquire a shop and an oven to bake the bread herself. 

 

 Photo credit to Kiva

Photo credit to Kiva

For this particular borrower, Kiva has partnered with the Ghana Women Fund. Here's what the Kiva site says about the GWF:

Ghana Women Fund (GWF) offers water and sanitation loans to people in Ghana living in slums and informal settlements. The high density of unplanned houses in slum areas of Ghana makes it virtually impossible for the communities to have piped water connections or sanitary facilities. GWF’s water and sanitation loans are used to provide safe, clean and hygienic water and sanitation facilities that improve the health of the people living in these slum areas.

Ghana Women Fund identifies and trains entrepreneurs living in the slums who want to engage in water-related businesses. The loans offer micro-entrepreneurs, including secondary suppliers of water, food vendors, and other water and sanitation-related businesses an opportunity to improve their economic livelihood through increased income. While improving their own lives, the micro-entrepreneurs also bring cleaner water to the slum communities in Ghana where they live.

As always, I'm incredibly grateful to my clients who really make these loans possible! I'm committed to both supporting local small businesses and non-profits but also helping these women entrepreneurs around the world. Without consistent, loyal clients, I could do neither. 

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Six tips for updating your website on a regular schedule

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One of the questions I get asked the most is "how often should I update my website?" While many questions I get have a pretty straightforward answer, this one is a little trickier. There's no set timeline that works for everyone. Instead, I encourage clients to ask themselves a few questions and often, the answer reveals itself. 

Has my business changed?
If you have recently added services, new products, or discontinued services or products, it's time for an update. If you have recently moved locations, renovated office space, or added new team members, you'll want your website to reflect it.

Is my website easy to navigate on a mobile device?
If the answer is no, it's time to update that site. With more and more people relying on their smartphone to access websites, you'll have to be mobile-friendly if you ever hope to convert viewers to customers. Google also continues to give preference to mobile-friendly sites. 

Is my website easy to use?
Ask a friend to look for something specific on your website (Hours, contact number, mailing address, staff members, etc.) and count how many clicks it takes to find the information. If it's more than two or three at the most, it's time to re-organize your site. 

Is my website accomplishing its purpose?
Now, this question requires that you state and understand the purpose of your website. Are you trying to increase sales? Increase traffic to your store? Promote a specific brand? Whatever your goal, you should be measuring it and then evaluating the performance regularly. If it's not accomplishing the stated purpose, it's time to re-think the design.

Once you have the website structure in place and feel good about the purpose and user experience, it can be pretty simple to make regular updates to your site. I definitely recommend using a calendar and scheduling updates. We're much more likely to update our site when we have it scheduled ahead of time and plan time to make it happen (my calendar said today was BLOG POST day so here I am!). So go through and pick one day a month that you can spend one hour on your website. Block it off and don't be tempted to ignore it. 

Here are some easy, quick ways to update your site that will help your SEO (Google loves new content) and help your website audience, too:

1. If you have a calendar, add a few events! Be sure to include helpful details like event times, locations, and directions, if appropriate. 

2. If you have a blog, add one or two new blog posts (Squarespace and WordPress both let you write posts ahead of time and schedule them so definitely take advantage of this option). 

3. Update your FAQ Page. Add one additional question and answer each month that helps your audience. Not sure what to add? Think about what you receive the most calls or emails about and see if you can answer that question on your FAQ page instead. 

4. If you have a rotating banner section on your homepage, add some new photos and delete any that are obviously dated. 

5. Squarespace offers a great announcement bar that is really easy and quick to update. If your platform has something similar, change this out as often as you can!

6. Swap out photos throughout the site for new ones and be sure to add captions, as well as metadata for the photo. 

By spending just one hour each month on your website, you'll make a big impact and drive new traffic to your site. And since it's fresh on my mind, if you're looking for a great planner to keep track of when you need to update your site, please do check out the Simplified Planner by Emily Ley. I love my technology (hello iCal -- I will never leave you) but I still find that using a paper planner for daily and monthly tasks is necessary. The Simplified Planner helps me manage all the things -- kid schedules, house tasks, business plans, appointments, etc. and with so many designs available, there's one for everyone! I'm using the daily planner this time around but there is also a great weekly version. 

Simplified planner by emily ley.jpg
Monthly Simplified Planner.jpg

If you're interested in purchasing the Simplified Planner, use can use my referral code and save lots of money. Just use this link to get started! 

As always, if you need help updating your website, creating strategic content, or both - please reach out to me and see if I can help! 

You might like some of my recent blog posts....

Three summer project ideas: Which one will you tackle?

  image copied from Google

image copied from Google

While it's not officially the summer season for another few days, my summer schedule began the day my kiddos celebrated the last day of school. So in short, my office hours have been sporadic at best and my list of books completed is growing -- sounds like a good life, huh? 

I'll admit, it's been nice. But I also love my work so I'm happy to have some dedicated office days too while the boys enjoy their summer camps. If your schedule is anything like this, it's time to embrace it. These three summer-type projects that small business owners or non-profit leaders can adapt might give you a place to start if you're feeling like you need to check a few more boxes off your list during this typically slower season. By tackling one, or even a few of these projects, you'll feel like you've accomplished something big (because you have) and you might even be motivated to keep going. 

Here are three great summer project ideas:

Organize your email list.

I've had emails on the brain because I'm designing a brand-new service that I'll begin offering this fall all about email marketing. Organizing your list doesn't have to be overwhelming. Start by exporting all of your emails into Excel and making sure you have as much data on each person as you can. Things like first name, last name, and category are the most important (think donor, volunteer, etc.). Once you have the list organized, you can begin to group your people into meaningful segments that can be communicated with in very unique ways. I recommend using a product like MailChimp to create one master list and then using the grouping tool they offer to avoid sending duplicate emails. Seem too complicated? At least get them organized and then check back with me in the fall to see if I can help you with the rest! 

Refresh your website.

Have you taken some time to review your website lately? Have you checked on your analytics to see what your traffic numbers look like? Are your forms converting? Are people shopping on your site? What is your bounce rate? Take some time to dive into the data and then make adjustments to your website that align with your goals. Swap out photos. Check all the links. Spending even just an hour or two to update your site will go a long way! 

Stock up on content.

Take advantage of volunteers who might have a little extra time to give this summer and put them to work on gathering content for newsletters, websites, social media, and any other project for which you're going to need words. Give them a framework for how to reach out to donors, volunteers, event attendees, members, customers, etc. and ask them to gather testimonials. People love stories and using stories in your marketing plan is one of the best ways to engage readers. Adapt longer stories to short snippets that can be used on social media. Add a testimonial or two to your website (as part of the refresh!), and stock up another few stories for that fall e-newsletter. 

When you tackle one or all of these projects, you'll be making your life easier down the road. Pick one and dive in. So tell me...which one will it be? 

You might like some of my more recent posts...

15 ways to start a social media post and 2 words to stop using right now

We've all been there. We're staring at that little box asking us "what's on your mind" and we just need to make the post and get on with our day. Sure, we *know* we're supposed to have a content calendar where we've meticulously planned out what we're going to post about, what photo we want to use, and an extremely clever post that is sure to skyrocket engagement and go viral.

Buuuuuuttttt.....let's get realistic a minute. It just doesn't happen that way sometimes. (Goals are good, keep trying). So we do it. We start the post with two words that are just...well, overused. 

We're excited. 

Blah. I cannot count the number of times I read those two words on a Facebook post and just keep scrolling. Are you really excited? Maybe you are. But there are better ways to start your post that will keep people reading and hopefully inspire them to click that like button, share the post, or even leave a comment. 

Ready for them? Here they are! 15 better ways to start a social media post. 

1. Tell us
2. How did we
3. Would you consider
4. You'll be surprised to know
5. We were inspired
6. From (blank) to (blank), we're working to
7. I bet you had no idea
8. Can you imagine
9. When you think of
10. We're doing the happy dance because
11. What exactly comes to mind when
12. Our hearts were broken when
13. Take a deep breath. We're making incredible progress on
14. We hear you're concerned about
15. It's true. We've been 

Try these out and see how they work. And promise me....no "we're excited" posts this week! You can download a PDF of this list over on my Freebie page, too! Print it out, stick in your social media folder, and get posting. 

You might like some of my previous blog posts...

How to quickly add a box around text in Canva

Creating graphics for blogs, social media, or your website can be exhausting and often time-consuming. But, to elevate your brand and ensure the appearance of your small business or non-profit is professional, great graphics are a must! 

While most designers prefer software like Adobe Illustrator, using an online solution like Canva is perfectly fine for smaller projects. And while Canva does make it easy to find templates to customize, there are a few features it's missing! 

One of those is this little trick...adding a box around text. There are plenty of square elements available but spending time to get it just right...well, it's no longer necessary. This quick little keyboard shortcut is all you need! 

Here's a quick little video explaining this little Canva trick that can take your next design up a notch! 

Now, go try this out and let me know what you create! Would you be interested in more Canva tips? If so, follow me over on my Facebook page! 

You might be interested in some of my previous blog posts...

An easy way to improve your website today

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There is a really easy to way to improve your website that is absolutely free. It will take you some time and creativity but it will result in a better user experience and keep visitors on your site longer.

What is it? Well, I'm glad you asked :)

Reduce the amount of text on your website. 

Take a good, critical look at your website and figure out a way to say what you need to in fewer words. Chances are, this will be easier than you think. We have a tendency to add more words to our website than we need to. And you know what? People probably aren't reading it all. They are skimming, trying to find that one piece of information they came for. 

There is a time and place for long descriptions and back stories but that place is not your home page. Good navigation structure (aka the right menu options) will give you a place to write *all the things* for those who want to read it. But your home page should be concise and get to the point. It should include things like:

  • Who are you?
  • What do you do/offer? 
  • Why are you different or what makes you unique?
  • Why should that matter to me? What problem do you solve?

There is no magic number of words but there are a few ways you can accomplish this.

  1. Use bullet lists to break up your text
  2. Use headings and sub-headings (also critical for SEO)
  3. Decide what has to be on the home page and then find a good place for everything else
  4. Use buttons, lines, or other decorative elements

By reducing your text to what matters most, you'll simplify your message and entice your reader to stay on your website longer since their user experience will be vastly improved. 

Start small. 

Pick one page (I suggest starting with your home page) and try to reduce the text by at least 30-40%. Add some headings, try a bullet list, and a design element or two. You'll be impressed at how much cleaner the page looks and be inspired to tackle another page, too! 

Leave me a comment with a link to your site so I can see your progress! 


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Sunday prep for the week ahead

Sunday is my almost favorite day of the week (Monday wins by just a smidge)! I love starting my day with worship at our church, I love getting to spend intentional time resting and hanging out with my family, and I love getting organized and prepped for the week ahead. 

I've always been the planning type but for years, I struggled with finding the right systems. I tried them all but rarely stuck with anything specific. I remember thinking that the Franklin Covey planner was going to CHANGE MY LIFE. I mean, how could you go wrong with the swanky leather case, the weekly refillable pages and that nifty little ruler/bookmark? And then there were the days of the Palm Pilot! Oh man, how I loved that thing. (I was the coolest, obviously!). 

Last year when I started One Nine Design, my systems really changed. All of a sudden, my calendar no longer revolved around 8a-5p. I had school activities to juggle, after-school pickup duties, volunteer gigs to manage, and business meetings all mixed in between meal prep and laundry. I don't remember how I discovered the Simplified Planner but the name was enough to intrigue me and on somewhat of a whim, I bought one. It has changed my system radically and helped me in so many ways.

The planners are as you might imagine, simple. There is a daily and weekly version (I used weekly all last year but I'm switching to daily this year). They are darling (new covers are releasing this Wednesday) and small enough to throw in your purse or work bag. I still use my iCal to share events with my husband and appointments that are going to affect people other than me. But, my planner becomes the primary place I write *all the things!* I keep track of meal planning, to-do lists, work appointments, deadlines, school reminders, etc. 

And one of my favorite parts is the Sunday prep checklist. Every Sunday, there's a pre-printed prep list that includes:

  • Plan meals for the week ahead (which means this is my grocery shop day, too!)
  • Tidy up for a clean slate on Monday (a little house pick-up and office clean up)
  • Write tasks/appointments for the week (I transfer anything from iCal to my planner and vice-versa)
  • Fill your "tank" and enjoy what matters most (self-care, family time, etc.)
Floral planner image.jpg

This planner really helps me keep my life organized and when I'm organized, I feel better about everything. I know this sounds like a sponsored post but it's really not! I just believe in this planner so much and want others to know about it! Plus, they've launched a great new program where I can give you a discount code - yay!

If you use this link to purchase a planner, you can save $10 off: http://i.refs.cc/54mP9GVt?u=1525020165048

The new planners for the academic year (August - July) launch on Wednesday and sometimes they sell out quickly so if you're interested in getting one, I'd set a reminder to hop online at 10am and purchase! You can look at all the products ahead of time at emilyley.com or visit their Facebook page for lots of helpful videos and product listings! 

If you decide to get one, let me know which cover you pick! I'm choosing the Floral one but it was a hard decision! 

Happy Planning!
Andrea

Grow your Instagram followers by doing this on your website

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Last week we talked about how to connect your Instagram account to your website and how to use a creative hashtag campaign to step that up a notch, as well! If you missed those blogs or videos, you can see them here: ---> www.oneninedesign.net/blog2/instagram

While those are great features to include your website, there's one more way you can grow your Instagram following that's even easier! 

Here's a hint:

 

Embedding an Instagram post right inside your blog post is a great way to increase your Instagram followers.

People are already reading your blog posts. By giving them a glimpse into your Instagram account right inside the blog post, you'll show them yet another way to be connected to you. Even better, your Instagram post will take them right over to your Instagram feed where they can click that Follow button!

So, here's how to do it:

1. Go to your Instagram page on your desktop.

2. Click on the post you want to Embed

3. On the lower right-hand corner of the post, right next to "Add a Comment," you'll see the three ellipsis dots. Click on those. 

4. Choose Embed

5. Now, you *should* be able to click on "Copy Embed Code." However, full disclosure, this was not working for me. So I manually copied the code (select all using Command A or Ctrl A and then copy).

6. For Squarespace users: Come back to your blog post and choose to insert a new Embed block. Click on the </> to open the code window, paste the text you've just copied, click Set, and then click Apply.  {If you're on another website platform other than Squarespace, find your site's feature to Embed}

His happy place. #apple #easton

A post shared by Andrea Shirey (@andreashirey) on

7. You might see the "preview in safe mode" box until you publish your post. That's normal! 

8. You're done! It seems like a lot of steps but once you do it a few times, you'll see it's a quick and easy process! 

Now, your relevant Instagram post is right in the middle of your blog post and viewers can click right on the post to visit your Instagram page! 

Don't forget to share your blog posts over on your social media sites (are you using your social share buttons on every post??). Try it out and send me a link so I can see your posts, too! 

Follow me on social media using the links below!


You might like some of my previous blog posts...

Integrating Instagram into your website

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We're all working hard to keep our social media channels updated with relevant, engaging content. But all that work doesn't have to just live on your social media platforms. It's more important than ever to integrate that great content into your website, too! 

Just like we load up our website with great content that we can push to our Facebook or Instagram pages, we can also take those beautiful photos we're posting on Instagram and integrate them into our website, as well. 

And, if you're already a Squarespace user, you're in luck because the platform makes it so easy to integrate not only your own Instagram feed onto your website, but also......

Well, just watch the videos below to find out how this great tool can add some great content to your website! 

Part One - Why we integrate and who should be using this feature!

Part Two - a live demo of incorporating your Instagram feed on your website plus a nice little extra feature (hint: it's about hashtags)

A live demonstration of how to integrate your Instagram feed into your Squarespace website and a great new feature -- integrating a hashtag campaign!

Try it out and send me a link so I can see, too! And come back later this week to find out one more Instagram tip! Here's a hint below: 

You might enjoy some of my previous posts...

Before and After: Gerber Ortho Studies

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Well, there's nothing like preaching to clients that they need to keep their blogs updated and then realizing how far behind my own blog was! I've been keeping really busy with clients so far in 2018 which is my excuse for neglecting my own work! 

But, today was a great day as we launched a brand-new website for Gerber Ortho Studies! So let's dive into a before/after look at the new website.

Before

 
Gerber old screenshot.png
 

 

The previous website was outdated and difficult for the staff to update. The navigation was cluttered and made the user experience overwhelming at times. It was not mobile-responsive which presented a major issue for busy dentists who often need information on the go. The website was also not consistent with the company's brand standards.

In talking with the Gerber Ortho team, their primary goal was to encourage the user to enroll in a course. The new website was created to push the user toward this goal with multiple opportunities to register online and easily view the available courses. It was also identified that Dr. Jay Gerber was synonymous with the brand so his recognizable photo needed to be prominent on the site. 

A few highlights of the new site include:

  • A completely mobile-responsive site that looks great on desktops, iPads, and iPhones. 
  • A comprehensive course calendar that makes it easy for users to see upcoming courses, download agendas, and register online. 
  • A Vlog to house Dr. Jay Gerber's YouTube instructional videos
  • A quick-glance event summary on the home page for quick reference of upcoming events
  • Social proof in the form of testimonials from previous course attendees
Gerber Ortho Studies new website.png

This was a fun project and I might have even learned a thing or two about orthodontics in the process! 

You can view the full website at gerberorthostudies.com

What's saving my life right now: Part 3 (Faith)

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This is the third post in a series, "What's Saving My Life Right Now." 

If I'm being completely honest (and I try to be), talking about faith in conjunction with running a business can be difficult. It's tempting to steer clear of the topic altogether, in fear of offending someone or even potentially losing a client (or potential client) as a result. But for me, my faith is woven so tightly into every aspect of my business that it's impossible to separate. I mean, the entire is business IS named after a scripture reference (Joshua 1:9). And plus, it's my business and I can do whatever I want, right? :)

So week three of this series brings me to "What's Saving My Life Right Now - Faith." This one was a little more difficult for me to write and narrow down because I find so many areas of my life overlap with faith. For instance, next week's topic is Personal Growth and many of the things on this list could also be there. I could have included some of the fitness information in faith, as well. So just hang on with me and understand the category is not as important as the process of identifying what's really working!

1. Keeping a prayer and gratitude journal. A few years ago, I took an entire year and followed Ann Voskamp's method of documenting 1,000 gifts. By writing just three things each day (and giving myself some grace to miss a few), I filled a book and a half of the seemingly small and insignificant things for which I was thankful. This exercise profoundly changed how I approached my day (and my time of reflection each night) and became a practice I would strive to emulate for years to come. While I am not in this habit right now, I am still intentional about keeping a gratitude journal. These days it looks a little less rigid (hello grace) and more like a mix of prayers, gratitude, and reflection. For me, it has been essential that I stop to give thanks before I ask. Sometimes that doesn't quite translate into getting it in written form but it still creates a mindset that prepares for me for prayer. 

2. Spotify Playlists focused on worship. When I'm working during the day, I almost always listen to instrumental music on Spotify. I find it difficult to listen to anything with words while I'm trying to write or working with any kind of content. But I've been slowly trying to incorporate some worship music into my day, every day. I've found this small little shift improves my mood and gets me in conversation with God more often. If I can't listen while I'm working, I'll turn it on while cooking dinner, cleaning or getting ready in the morning. 

3. Listening to podcasts that stretch me. I confess. I'm a podcast junkie. I hardly ever turn on the radio in the car anymore. I find every second I can to listen to podcasts. Although I love to read, I find I'm more likely to listen to episodes that stretch me (intellectually and spiritually) than I am to read books in those areas. In the last year, I've learned so much from being intentional about listening to podcasts that might zero in on topics I'm uncomfortable with (meaning areas where I need to grow or my viewpoint is vastly different from theirs). But in doing so, I feel like a new world has been opened to me, and I'm slowly finding ways to use that new knowledge in conversation with the community around me. Some of my favorites are:

That Sounds Fun with Annie F. Downs
For the Love with Jen Hatmaker
The Next Right Thing with Emily P. Freeman
This American Life (great for topics that offer viewpoints / experiences outside of modern Christianity)
Focus on the Family (Marriage and Parenting shows)
The Shauna Niequist Podcast
 

4. Weekly worship with other believers & intentional relationship building with community. I'm always a little sad when I hear the statistics of how fewer and fewer people are attending church. And I know "Church" can mean many different things to many different people.  I've never been in the camp where I believed going to church = some favorited status with God. But, I notice a profound difference in my own walk when I'm not hearing God's word regularly and in community with like-minded believers. For me, that means worshipping at North Parkersburg Baptist and being a part of a small group. 

5. Learning to accept God's grace and give it freely. For years, I held myself to a standard that I clearly couldn't live up to and I assumed everyone else held me to that standard as well. Only in the last few years have I began to truly understand the power of grace - both given and received. By practicing this daily (and trust me, failing along the way), my life has slowly begun to look different. For example, I could have read a blog post like this a few years ago and immediately made a list of all things I should be doing, because, clearly the blogger's way was best. But now...I can take in what I read, listen, and observe and slowly find my own way, understanding that my way of living out my faith is going to look different than someone else's. It's amazing what can happen when you encounter a situation and simply say to yourself: They are doing the best they can with what they know and the tools they have. Grace is a gift and it's beautiful to give and receive. 

I hope something in this list might inspire you to think about what's saving your life in your faith right now! Have questions about something I shared? Feel free to leave a comment and start a conversation! I'll wrap this series up next week with "What's Saving My Life Right Now in personal growth."


You might like one of my previous blog posts....

Before and after: A look at my latest non-profit website launch

Before and After - Rotary launch.png

As a former Rotarian, I was thrilled to be asked to design a brand-new website for the Rotary Club of Belpre, OH. Add in that the project manager was a friend and past member of the board of directors in my previous position, and I was sold! 

This was their previous website:

Belpre Rotary site before.png

They were doing the best they could with the tools they had, and the site was set up in a blog format. As you can see, the site was not mobile-responsive and the design lacked good navigation structure, appealing photos, and compelling content that would entice future members to consider joining.

This is the after:

Belpre Rotary club website after.png

A few features of the site include:

  • Clean navigation with a long-scrolling home page that includes links to the what we believe will be the most viewed pages -- meeting schedule and club impact. 
  • Compelling images that tell the viewer, through a visual story, that the Club is civic-minded and fun.
  • Testimonials that deliver a first-hand view of the Club and what membership might mean to someone new.
  • Easy to find contact information in the site-wide footer.
  • Clear and concise calendar which allows the Club to inform viewers of the upcoming meeting speakers and learn about them prior to the meeting. 

The new website also features an entire page dedicated to the Club's major fundraiser, its annual Golf Tournament. The new website will now be an outreach tool to attract returning and new sponsors and deliver needed information in a more efficient fashion (simply by being able to download forms, rules, etc.). With Squarespace's robust analytics, Club leaders can also communicate the value of their sponsorship with hard data (i.e. 500 people have viewed the page where your business logo is located and 250 have followed a link to your business' website).

The last thing I want to highlight is how the website was designed to be low-maintenance without sacrificing the power of SEO at the same time. For this 100% volunteer-led group, having one person to update the website daily or even weekly just isn't feasible. So to ensure their SEO wouldn't suffer by having a stagnant website, it was designed so that volunteers could make small, easy changes on their own terms (i.e. not having to pay a designer to update it each time). They can add an announcement bar, new calendar events, and quickly change out content in just a few minutes! This is a win-win for a non-profit with a relatively small budget!

Let me know what you think about the site in the comments below! And please do check out the full website at www.belperotary.org

 

What's saving my life right now: Part 2 (Fitness)

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If you didn't make a fitness related New Year's resolution, you are in the minority for sure. It seems like everywhere I've looked, read, and listened, I find tips and tricks to every possible weight-loss solution. The truth is, I used to read them all. I have struggled with weight issues since college and I was a sucker for every shortcut out there. 

Shakes? Tried that. Eating only cereal? Yep. Silly enough to do that one, too. Weight-watchers took every dime of my disposable income one year and I ended up heavier than when I started. One year I thought Curves was going to fix all my problems and I worked out with ladies twice my age several days a week. It was entertaining but never got me to the heart of my issue -- why I wanted to be thin and the realization that fitness was a lifestyle, not a goal. 

So, here's what's saving my life in Fitness right now:

1. Temple Challenge. Anyone who knows me at all should have guessed this would be number one on my list. Temple Challenge is a six-month fitness program comprised of 60-minute workouts designed to work the entire body. It combines cardio with strength-training and you never do the same workout twice. It's offered in nine locations and there are over 40 classes per week in the Mid-Ohio Valley. It has literally changed my life. I'm in my fourth round of TC and to date, have lost 30+ lbs and over 15 inches. But more importantly, I've gained confidence in my body, muscle, and the best of friends! I encourage anyone around the Mid-Ohio Valley to check out the Temple Challenge website and to try it! 

2. Non-weight related goals. I lost most of the weight in the first two rounds of Temple Challenge. In the past year, I've been pretty much the same weight consistently, but I've been gaining muscle. My goals for 2018 have nothing to do with what number is on the scale. A few of my goals include:

  • Reducing my body fat percentage (there's a really great tool available to anyone locally called Fit3D that helps you measure this and so many other things!)
  • Be able to do 50 standard push-ups in one set (currently at 30)
  • Be able to do 5 pull-ups (currently at 2)
  • Run a half-marathon in 2018 (currently at 7 miles for my max)

I think having non-weight related goals is great because if I can do these things and I still gain a pound or two, I haven't failed at all. 

3. Setting 90-day goals. I listened to a great podcast by Tsh Oxenreider on setting quarterly goals and I loved the idea. Instead of looking at the whole year, I set some goals to accomplish before March 31st. This seems manageable and if I don't quite make it, I can re-group and set another one for the next 90 days. Genius. 

4. Following fitness-related hash-tags on Instagram.  In general, I've been very intentional about spending less time on social media (I'll have more on that one in my personal growth post). But, I love following hash-tags on Instagram. I started following #whole30 and my feed is full of healthy recipes, instead of celebrities on their latest vacation. I'm not actively doing Whole30 but I love all the food inspiration and it's a great reminder of what I should be eating. Find a hashtag that inspires you and your fitness goal and follow it! 

5. Accountability. Last but not least, I have to give a shout out to my friends! We have a little chat group where we confess our worst eating habits, ask each other who is working out and when, and check-in when someone doesn't show up. We also share our workouts via our Apple Watches (my unofficial #6 in this list for sure) and when I see someone else has completed their rings, well, I better get my butt in gear. Find someone who encourages you and keeps you accountable! 

There you have it! That's what's saving my life in fitness right now! Leave me a comment and tell me what's saving your life! And check back next week for What's Saving My Life Part 3: Faith. 


You might enjoy some of my previous blog posts....

 

 

What's saving my life right now: Part 1

Millions of people have now made New Year's resolutions in nearly every category of life and this week, many are finding out the same thing I am -- change is hard. We make promises to ourselves and maybe to others to do more, be more, learn more, change more and it can get overwhelming. 

That's why I'm starting this four-part blog series called What's saving my life right now. If we can learn to use great tools to help us meet those resolutions, then I say why not? I'll tackle four categories:

1. Technology
2. Fitness
3. Faith
4. Personal Growth

(Click the blog title to read the full post)

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