Life Lately: December 2014

Last week I blasted you with my November life update, and today I’m here to share scenes from December and the holidays.

Life Lately

The month kicked off with two girls nights in a row, and both were on school nights too! The first was a midweek fitness date with my gym friends Liz, Ashley, and Mary. We took a class at The Studio Empower and then treated Liz to a belated birthday dinner at Farmstead Table in Newton. It was so cute in there, and our farm to table food was perfect.

Studio EmpowerFarmstead Table

The following night, I met up with my friend Erin downtown for dinner at Rustic Kitchen before we saw The Nutcracker! <–Recap post here.

Boston Ballet's The Nutcracker

Tim and I spent the first weekend in December enjoying some quality time together. Friday night was spent at home before heading up to Portsmouth on Saturday for our annual overnight. We typically go in the fall, but this year we didn’t have a weekend to use our free Marriott night until December. It was really nice being up there at Christmas time for a change. Everything was decorated, and we were able to get a lot of Christmas shopping done during the day on Saturday.

Portsmouth NH 2014

We ate dinner out on Saturday night at Cava, and it was one of the best restaurants I’ve ever been to in my life. We sat at the bar downstairs, drank a bottle of wine (oops!), and left happy and full from all the delicious small plates we sampled. Crazy new try of the night? Octopus ink! Ever had it?

Cava Tapas and Wine Bar

Finally, on Sunday we grabbed coffee and a quick breakfast at Popovers on the Square before hitting up the Kittery outlets for some more shopping. Neither one of us wanted to head back to Boston that night!

Popovers on the Square

The following week we decorated and got our Christmas tree. Every year we get it from McKay’s trees, which isn’t anything special, but it’s close by, and the people there are so nice. Our tree this year almost didn’t even fit in the house. Tim had to get his saw from the basement. I didn’t even know we owned a saw? Good to know.

Christmas Tree 2014Christmas

Despite turning down a few invites, the rest of the month was one holiday gathering after another. Luckily, since we did most of our shopping in Portsmouth, the weekdays weren’t too crazy, which made the busy weekends more manageable. The weekend of the 12-14th kicked off with Christmas dinner and a slumber party at Katrina and Geoff’s new house on Friday night. I almost had a mental breakdown in the amount of traffic we hit getting there, but once we got there and started cooking all together, drinking wine (confession: I have completely turned into a wine-o if you couldn’t tell from my life lately posts the last couple of months), and laughing, I was fine. I’m still mad I forgot my cranberry and pistachio bark though!

Wally World Christmas 2014Wally World Christmas 2014 Wally World Christmas 2014Wally World Christmas 2014

On Saturday we celebrated Christmas with my dad’s side of the family at my grandfather’s house in New Bedford. We did a Yankee swap instead of a secret Santa this year, and since it was my uncle’s birthday, we also had a cake for him.

New Bedford Christmas 2014New Bedford Christmas 2014New Bedford Christmas 2014

Finally, on Sunday after a really hard workout from all the food we ate on Friday and Saturday, we headed to my godfather’s for a holiday luncheon with all my second cousins. The following weekend we had my work Christmas party at Julia’s house on Friday night, and on Saturday night we had the 15th annual Christmas party with my home friends at Shannon’s apartment. I can’t believe she’s hosted this party for 15 years straight (or that we’ve all been friends for so long!).

Shannon's Christmas Party 2014Food for Shannon's 2014Shannon's Christmas Party 2014Shannons Christmas Party 2014

This brings us into Christmas week. On Christmas Eve Eve, I went to Liz’s last kickboxing class (end of an era!), then Tim and I met some of my home friends at Rudy’s in Somerville to celebrate Shannon’s new job and Esk getting into medical school.

Liz's last kickboxing class

This year was the first year that we had Christmas Eve off from work, and it was so nice to spend the day at home together before heading to Tim’s cousin’s house like we do every year.

Pesto Stuffed TomatoesChristmas Eve 2014

Tim and I also have two Christmas Eve traditions of our own. The first is to do a random act of kindness for someone. This year we gave a ten-dollar bill to the person working the tolls on the mass pike, and we asked him to please pay the toll for however many cars it would cover after us. We also always exchange an ornament before going to bed. My ornament was my favorite gift that I received during the entire holiday season this year. Tim had a custom one created with a picture of the lighthouse where we got engaged this summer. Love!

Christmas Eve ornament

On Christmas Day, we woke up and exchanged our other presents for each other and opened our stockings before cooking a festive breakfast (our other holiday tradition together!). We each got each other a new winter jacket and winter hat. Does that make us lame? Tim also got me a kettlebell, a couple of new workout tops, and a cozy infinity scarf, and I also got Tim tickets to a beer and cheese festival in February.

Stockings on Christmas 2014Healthy french toast casserole

The rest of the day was spent at my parents’ house with my mom’s side of the family! Seemed like it went by in a flash.

Christmas 2014 Christmas 2014Christmas 2014 Christmas 2014 Cranberry White Chocolate Bars

The weekend immediately following Christmas was our 8th and final wedding of 2014, which we have officially dubbed the year of weddings. Tim was a groomsman in this one, so we spent Friday night at the rehearsal dinner at Smith and Wollensky’s, and Saturday was the wedding itself at the Boston Public Library. Holy fancy! We had such a fun time, and I enjoyed getting to know some of these friends a little bit better.

Doug and Carolyn's Rehearsal DinnerDoug and Carolyn's Wedding Doug and Carolyn's Wedding: GirlsDoug and Carolyn's Wedding Doug and Carolyn's Wedding

Finally, we finished out our month (and year) with dinner out at Solea on Moody Street and meeting up with friends at Hopsters to count down at midnight.

NYE 2014

I have no idea how we survived the last two months, but somehow we did!

Readers, let’s chat! What was the best part of your holiday season? Tell me about your favorite traditions, the best party you went to, or your favorite relaxing day at home.

I just love sitting on the couch with Tim with our tree lit up, a cup of tea, and a Christmas candle lit! I am looking forward to more of this (sans tree) in January now that our weekends are no longer jam-packed. I know I haven’t written about my 2015 intentions yet, but one of them definitely is to create more space. I need to be more mindful of living in the moment so I’m not always thinking about the next place we have to go. This is something I struggle with! Tim and I are both social butterflies despite still turning down more things than we ever have this year.

Hope you guys are having a great week so far. ❤

F&F Holiday Hustle Challenge! 5 Weeks of Healthy Holiday Motivation

Good morning! I have some exciting stuff to announce today, so let’s get right to it.

It’s been a while since I hosted a blog challenge. Who remembers my 31 Day Ab Challenge, April Arms, Fall Into Fitness, and Jingle Well Time? It seems like these were forever ago, and as I was putting this blog post together last night, I realized that they were done in 2013! Since I don’t want 2015 to roll in without having done a blog challenge in 2014, I’ve decided to launch a little holiday fun to close out the year.

Fitness & Feta Holiday Hustle Challenge

I invite you all to take part in the F&F Holiday Hustle challenge! This challenge consists of five weeks of healthy holiday motivation, and it’s all FREE as my holiday gift to you for being so freaking awesome.

What is the Holiday Hustle challenge about?

THRIVING during the holidays! This challenge is about fun, community, small things you can do for yourself and for your health, focusing on how you feel instead of how you look, making connections, kindness, getting out of your comfort zone, and living in the moment. It’s about starting 2015 a little healthier, but more importantly with the right mindset because of positive choices you’ve made for yourself in December.

What ISN’T the Holiday Hustle challenge about?

SURVIVING the holidays. This challenge is NOT about comparing yourself to others, weight, obsessing about food or fitness, numbers on the scale, beating yourself up, negativity, stressing about doing things the right way, putting too much pressure on yourself, and just trying to get by. It’s not about starting 2015 frustrated with yourself and feeling down about all the things you “did wrong” in December.

When will the Holiday Hustle challenge take place?

The challenge will run from Monday 12/1/14 through Sunday 1/4/15.

How will the Holiday Hustle challenge be communicated?

Every Sunday, I will send an email to all Holiday Hustle participants. The email will contain a variety of suggested workouts geared toward all fitness levels that can be done in 10, 20, or 30 minutes. The email will also provide a few different meal and snack ideas for each week, some stress management techniques to try, and whatever motivation I feel like throwing at you that week!

How will Holiday Hustle challenge participation be tracked?

All check ins will be done on your social media outlet of choice (Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram). My Sunday emails will have suggested check in topics for each day of the week, but I want this challenge to be FUN and about what thriving through the holiday hustle means to you. That said, your check ins can be about ANY healthy choice that you make for yourself during the day, no matter how big or small. I want these check ins to be creative, and I don’t want anyone to feel any pressure!

What should the Holiday Hustle check ins include?

For your social media check ins, please tag me @fitnessandfeta in your Twitter/Instagram check ins and pull in my Fitness & Feta Facebook page for any Facebook check ins. Please also always use #ffholidayhustle. This is a hashtag unique to this challenge, and it’s how I will be able to keep track of you guys! I recommend following me on each of these outlets to make it easier come challenge time:

How do the Holiday Hustle challenge prizes work?

Every week there will be a weekly winner! I have some fun companies sponsoring this challenge such as Women’s Health, Drink Maple, and Words to Sweat By. I’m still organizing some of these details along with lining up some more companies to participate, but each week I will choose a winner to receive a fun combination of prizes. Winners will be picked based on social media engagement. You don’t necessarily have to be spot on with completing all the challenges perfectly, but I want to see creative posts, kindness to yourselves, and encouragement of others checking in #ffholidayhustle.

How do I join the Holiday Hustle challenge?

Just fill out the Google form below or click here! Your information will not be shared with anyone. I will not be posting these challenges on the blog, so if I don’t get your signup information, I won’t know to email you!

I think that’s all you need to know for now! I hope that you will join me for the fun so we can make this the best holiday season yet!

You Can Do It All, But You Don’t Have To

This post is sponsored by Whole Foods Market Arlington. All opinions are my own.

I was walking into Whole Foods for my weekly grocery run the other day, when a little sign in front of the store caught my eye.

Whole Foods Market Arlington: You Can Do It All

“You can do it all, but you don’t have to.”

This is the ongoing battle I have with myself, day in and day out, week after week.

Full time, I run a corporate wellness program. And you want to know what programs I want to offer? All of them.

Part time, I teach fitness classes. And while I only teach two classes a week, I want to teach more. Oh my God, how I want to teach more.

Part time, I blog. Even though I consider blogging a hobby and something I do for fun, it’s starting to provide income for me. Fitness & Feta is growing, you guys. And it’s awesome and makes me really excited for “someday.” But someday isn’t today, and today I have all sorts of posts I want to write, all sorts of projects I want to do, and all sorts of events I wish I could attend but can never make because I’m trying to run a corporate wellness program and teach fitness classes. And strength train. And food prep. And have a social life. And clean my house. And spend time outdoors. And plan my wedding. And finish my wellness coaching certification. And start my Christmas shopping. And do all those returns that have sat in my car for weeks now. And read. And think about what to make for Thanksgiving…

I am someone that tries to do it all.

Muscles

The holidays are right around the corner (can you even believe it?!), and this is a time of year that usually sends people like me right over the edge. Sure, they can be a time of joy, relaxation, and cheer, but that’s usually if you are not the one responsible for all the cleaning, cooking, baking, planning, decorating, hosting, wrapping, socializing… right!? Sound familiar?

If you can relate (cough, cough all my fellow Type A friends and readers), I want you to ask yourself something. What if, for one year, you stop trying to be superwoman (or superman)? What if instead of “getting through” November and December, you took the time to truly enjoy these months? Do you ever stop and think that our “I can do it all” attitudes are probably the true culprits of so much stress and anxiety?

I ask myself this all the time.

This holiday season, I encourage you to try to create more space in your life. Even if you want to do ALL THE THINGS, remind yourself that having those margins to breathe is just as important as crossing off everything on your to do list.

Instead of trying to survive, thrive.

Delegate.

Ask for help when you need it.

Give yourself permission to say no or do something differently.

If a tradition stresses you out, change it.

Whole Foods Holiday Menu

As I continued my grocery shopping last week, I realized that Whole Foods actually offers a pretty awesome solution for changing things up. If taking the stress out of your holiday meal isn’t a great starting point, I don’t know what is.

Whole Foods Thanksgiving Menu 2014

After browsing through the 2014 Whole Foods Thanksgiving menu, I realized you can order pretty much anything for your holiday meal. The menu includes turkeys of all kinds, signature sides, relish and gravies, breads and rolls, tons of hors d’oeuvres, fresh fruit, cheeses, soups, desserts, and more. Basically anything you need for your holiday party you can get through Whole Foods. I love that the menu also features Health Starts Here options, caters toward any allergies, and offers Meal Deals for families of 2, 4, 8, and 12. You can even get flowers and candles to decorate with!

Interested? Just visit the Whole Foods online ordering site, select what you want, and pick your items up at your local Whole Foods store. Easy as pie, except easier because you won’t have to make it. Some Whole Foods stores will even have a holiday ordering table set up with a team member taking orders right on site. Look how festive the Arlington store table is!

Whole Foods Arlington: Holiday Food Menu

No matter what you choose this season, whether it be catering your holiday meal from Whole Foods or simply turning down an invitation to a party you don’t want to go to, own your decision. Don’t feel guilty about it. Maybe you get some snide remarks from a crabby relative, but who really cares if you spent three hours trying to make a Pinterest perfect dish? Is that a non-negotiable to you? Probably not. Show yourself some compassion, and accept your decision as important to you.

–Let’s chat–
Are you someone who tries to do it all? How do you accept that you don’t have to? What are your tips for approaching the holiday season with a stress free mindset? Have you ever ordered off the Whole Foods holiday menu before?

P.S. Whole Foods Arlington is also offering some pretty cool cooking classes geared toward preparing for Thanksgiving this month! I might check out the centerpieces and hors d’oeuvres class next Tuesday, but the one on brining and roasting a turkey sounds pretty awesome too. That would totally get me out of my comfort zone! Both classes are free, but you have to sign up online, and donations will be collected to support the Feed Four More foundation.