Gift Ideas to Support Small Business Friends

We’ve spoken before on the blog about the growth and opportunity in direct sales and all your friends who have begun their own business in some way over the recent years in this digital era of multi-level marketing. Now that the holidays are approaching, it’s a great time for you to support those friends or other local small businesses for thoughtful, unique gifts.

Explore a collection of gift ideas on this list of small businesses, so you can find something just right for everyone on your list! Shop small this year, or check out how can even save more money on these gifts by contacting your representative or local consultant. Despite another rough year of quarantines and pandemics, many small businesses are still standing strong, including your friends on Facebook.

There is no reason to get stuck out in long lines this year when you can support local and small businesses run by hardworking people you may even know.
In collaboration with as many small businesses I know, we have compiled our [almost] complete list of gift ideas! Who are you shopping for? There is something for every one on your list here.

For the Chefs & Bakers, New Home Owners, and Your Favorite In-Laws

Whether they’re always hosting, always cooking, or just opening gifts, treat someone to Pampered Chef goodies because who doesn’t love some Pampered Chef? Quality and unique kitchen products anyone can appreciate, and it’s only a click away!

There are some incredible tools for quick dishes, the most reliable cookware, seasonings, and even monthly recipe subscription services to keep up with meal prep goals. Pair a bottle of wine with an entertaining piece, or a jar of hot fudge with the famous Pampered Chef ice cream scoop for a simple and thoughtful gift.

For Your Friends with Style, the Ladies In Need of Pampering, and Secret Santa

One all-time hit Christmas gift in years past for me has been these convenient, simple, DIY manicured nails by Color Street! Don’t waste any more time considering the perfect gift and snag some sets of hassle-free press-on nail art designs.

Snag a few sets and combine with a nail file for a unique and fun gift she will absolutely love! For more tips on how to apply, I recommend you pop over to Jillian’s Nail Bar on Facebook and explore the styles and reviews, too!

For Fit Friends, Busy Moms, or the Whole Family

I am a proud Zyia Active Independent Rep and truly love the mission of this active lifestyle brand: to inspire and uplift by making activity a fun and essential part of life. There is a wide variety of quality items that your fit friends would love, as well as incredible versatile pieces that can be worn in the office, on the go, to sporting events, or the typical workout, and I’m sure you’d get bonus points for picking out something truly unique and one-of-a-kind through my online boutique, where we have new releases coming out every single Wednesday and inventory is always changing.

You can’t go wrong with a pair of classic light n tights from your favorite Zyia Active Independent Rep, that’s me! Runners, ladies who lift, or even those who dance, do yoga, or just “mom” it up will love the compression of these leggings that some call the magic tummy-tuck leggings, and they’ll always stay put! Fit true to size from XXS to XXXXL! The real secret here, though, is that these leggings provide an on-the-spot tummy tuck, too! These are just one of the many incredible things this boutique active lifestyle brand flaunts.

Join my royalty club on Facebook to explore our women’s, children’s, and men’s clothing; we have everything from leggings to office chinos, shorts to winter jackets, and sports bras that double as swim tops!

For the World Traveler and College Students

For the loved ones always on the go, and perhaps giving you a little anxiety traveling the world on their own, Damsel in Defense is the perfect holiday gift for peace of mind! This company offers a variety of self protection tools for travel or just the everyday. I don’t ever want to be a damsel in distress, so I’m prepared with shielded pepper spray when I walk my dog, a tactical pen when I fly off toward my next adventure, or my roadside kit always handy in my car.

For Those in Need of Pampering, Grandparents, and Hardworking Teachers

Consider a self-care kit for those who have been by your side, virtually or not, over the past year and deserve a little treat! Find Kerry, an independent rep for Perfectly Posh, on Facebook to help you craft the perfect gift set. Pair a refreshing body scrub with a handful of bath bombs, lip balm for the cold weather, and be sure to add in any of their delicious hand and body lotions!

For Your Aunt, Uncle, and the Coworkers

Have you smelt the delightful fragrant wax melts by Scentsy? If not, Tiffany’s VIP group is the best place to start! Reach out to Tiffany to learn more and get her expert help in picking the perfect scents! They have a variety of different options beyond just wax melts to give your home or a friend’s sweet smells; there is a scent for everybody!

Shop Small and Save

Now that you have found some gift ideas, we can talk about how you can save even more. Have you ever considered a virtual shop event? With the help of company representatives, like myself (Zyia Active Independent Rep), you could receive half-priced, discounted, and even free items! We can set up a virtual party for you and your friends, which is where you can earn all these rewards for your Christmas shopping?

Never heard of this before? I can walk you through it. As your Zyia Active Independent Rep, you would start by simply reaching out to me and choosing a date for your event. I’ll create the party on Facebook, then you invite your friends and family. From there, you won’t have to do anything else because I take care of it all for you! When all is said and done, you and I can touch base so I can help you use your host rewards in the most optimal way.

For example, when your party orders total $600 or more, you would receive 3 half-priced items of your choice and an additional $65 to spend on more goodies. With this, you could snag 2 high-quality leggings and a jacket at the lowest price you can get with those 50%-off coupons, and then you can use the $65 credits towards 2 bras to match those leggings, plus some accessories like our crossbody bags, backpacks, head bands, or even a set of resistance bands!

With my company, host rewards kick in with at least 3 orders and $200 total, and these rewards continue to increase; with a $2,000 total, you can actually earn a $300 gift card to use, along with the 8 half-priced items you’d get too. Now that is a great way to get your holiday shopping done on a budget! And the best part is you’ll have me as your rep, and I will be your personal (virtual!) shopping buddy and style guru. I can help you find the right sizes, right style for you, and get your order entered for you, so you can just relax, enjoy your virtual gathering, and save!

Contact me to book your own party with your favorite new Zyia Active Independent Rep, or I can also direct you to consultants for the companies discussed above!

Practice Gratitude Year-Round

by: Danielle Ternyila

Time and time again this simple method of gratitude has gotten me through the hardest days. I try my best to practice gratitude every day, but especially on the worst days. You know, those days or sometimes weeks when you just dont want to get out of bed in the morning, the day lags on miserably, or perhaps you’re most stressed at night as you recap your awful day. Maybe it’s just winter in general and the cold!

Instead of giving into those negative vibes, remind yourself of all the good. Ask yourself, “Well if this isn’t particularly going well, what is doing me good?” If you can’t think of a single thing or person you’re thankful for, for any reason whatsoever, then you aren’t trying hard enough.

Reflection is so important for us and our growth, especially mentally. Gratitude grounds us and finds the light in the darkest places. Next time you’re stressed, start listing what you are thankful for that day, including the driver who moved over for you when you were rushing to work, the woman who held the door when your hands were full, or that you had a filling breakfast.

Be thankful that you woke up early on the weekend and could spend more time enjoying your coffee or get ahead on your day. Be grateful if you slept in and got rest you needed. It’s like looking at a half-filled glass of water. Is it half full or half empty? You decide.

Ways to Implement Gratitude in your Life:

Journal! Take a moment each night to list 3 to 5 things you’re thankful for. Doing this will reinforce gratitude and keep you thinking in the future about what you’re thankful for!

Redirect Negative Thoughts! When you’re feeling particularly negative, pause to think about what you are grateful for instead, like an opportunity you’ve been given, a lesson you may be learning from a challenge, or the person you can lean on through it.

Thank Others! Make it a point to thank someone every day. Not only will you feel good, but it will reinforce gratitude in others as well, making those around you feel appreciated too.

By practicing gratitude regularly, you will learn to appreciate the little things, which will help in balancing your mental health in the long run. The longer you practice this, the easier it will be to recognize the little wins throughout your day.

Why All Your Facebook Friends Are In Direct Sales

by: Danielle Ternyila

Among many awesome and sometimes unusual things that have derived from the internet, direct sales companies and multi-level marketing (MLM) opportunities have grown fast and for good reasom! It is rare anyone can scroll Facebook anymore without seeing a cousin selling this, an old colleague selling that, and your best friend even “starting her own business”.

First off, let’s talk about that phrase: start your own business. That’s actually what direct sales is all about and one of the reasons they are growing more popular every year. One of the most attractive qualities of an MLM opportunity is the chance to be your own boss. And trust me, a new monthly deposit in your bank account is never a bad thing!

Benefit 1: Your Own Second Income

I have worked full-time in my industry since I graduated college, but the thought of added income didn’t sound half bad, a back-up source of funds “just in case.” So why didn’t I get a second job nearby? That was just out of the question. I loved my job already, and with it came a lot of travel, which meant minimal free time for a bartending gig or something on the side. I couldn’t sacrifice the small free time I did have left for that extra income.

Introduce: Pampered Chef, my first MLM experience! I got invited to a party (a Facebook party, that is!). I had never been in one, but it was fun to break up my week with some fun online with friends, and I started asking the consultant questions. She too worked full time and joined the business for the extra cash for her family. What intrigued me the most, though, was her schedule. She got to make it! She put in 2 hours some weeks or 10-20 others. She was her own boss!

Benefit 2: Make Your Own Schedule

There’s no arguing that the internet is changing everything, including the customer experience. Remember all the old in-home tuper ware and Pampered Chef parties your mom went to? Yeah, the internet got them too! Now you can really run your own business at your own speed, in your own time, and with scheduled posts (but keep that secret to yourself!)

The MLM business is booming, and you’re crazy not to take advantage. What attracted me most to these companies was the flexibility to work anywhere and anytime I wanted. My fulltime career has given me the opportunity and fortune to travel the world, which leaves minimal evenings and weekends available for extra shifts.

Benefit #3: You Work Anywhere You Want

A huge benefit for any direct sales business is the flexibility. Work anywhere, anytime, and anyway you are comfortable. With this, I’m able to focus on my small business in my down time and put it on the back burner when I need to. I can put in 3 hours a week, or 10. I can work every weekend, or take every weekend off. It is my business, and I can run it however I want. And because this is just  a side hustle, I don’t have any pressure to sell when I want. I am my own boss, and I fully support myself no matter how I run my business!

More times than not, I’m getting my business done in the gym on my phone! It’s that easy. I can tune in anywhere now, and there’s no reason you couldn’t either!

Benefit #4: Be Your Own Boss But Not Alone

Like I said, I am my own boss! I am not reporting to someone else, I don’t have to abide by a manager’s rules, and I can take off at a moment’s notice! You may be scared to run your own business and become your own boss, but most of these companies actually provide you so many resources and leadership contacts that you will never truly feel alone, even if you’re running the show all yourself!

When I worked with Pampered Chef, I had a huge support system online, and I received tons of marketing materials from the company that made managing my business that much easier. Now that I am a Zyia Active Independent Rep, I have a whole new community of fellow reps to help me too, as well as my upline and team leader. Although we are each running our own businesses, we still have team groups on Facebook and talk regularly.

Benefit #5: Meet New & Like-Minded Friends

Lifelong friends come with the job! When you are using the communities your company has in place for you, you are sure to meet new friends. I have met some incredible ladies that I continue to stay in contact with strictly because we’re friends, not because we work together and have to play nice. Especially in a company that you are passionate for, you are sure to meet plenty of others who feel the same way.

Your small business could just connect you to someone else who shares similar values, desires, and passions as you! Who doesn’t want to meet more people and make more friends? That can be a real daunting task as an adult, but this is a great way to make new friends that encourage and support you!

Benefit #6: Discounts and Free Procucts

There’s a lot of ways to save money for yourself by becoming a rep for your favorite MLM. I was able to stock my entire kitchen with 50%‐, 60%‐off deals, and free items! Not mention they really like spoiling their reps, so I got a free Deluxe Air Dryer as a PC consultant!

Becoming a Zyia Active Independent Rep was an easy decision for me, just based on the company’s mission and 4 pillars: Light, Uplift, Activity, and Community. The best part,, though, has been the free and super discounted items I get. I’ve scored myself 20% off for life by becoming a rep, so my closet is stocked with quality comfortable items.

We walk around all the time wearing designer and brand names written all over it, basically promoting to the world that they should wear Nike, Nautica, or what have you. We do this, but do we actually pay much attention to the company though and what they are doing for the greater good? For me, I’ve never liked that, wearing any clothes with a brand written all over it, but as a rep now, I’m actually getting paid and given discounts to promote the company, which is making impactful changes; they’ve provided 10s of thousands of jobs to reps around the country, they have a recycled line and use recyclable options whenever possible, fundraising campaigns for local communities, and more.

How Do I Choose the Right MLM for me?

When I first started Pampered Chef, I decided it was the best choice for me since I was familiar with the product line, I loved baking and cooking, and I was sure I could find customers, considering everyone needs to eat, then requiring some Pampered Chef!

Fast forward to my next direct sales venture that I started in early 2021. This active lifestyle brand hits home with me. I enjoyed Pampered Chef and was able to put a small dent in my student loans (which is actually a big accomplishment), but I decided to part ways with my apron and focus on my real passions: motivating and inspiring others to live healthier and more fulfilling lives, so I love being a part of a company with these same passions.

I love helping others feel their best and most confident, and so this side hustlez which truly markets to all body shapes and sizes with the high-quality cute clothes we deserve at the price points we’d rather compared with other name brand activewear. As an independent representative, I serve as your personal shopping buddy who has all the answers to your questions, size charts and comparisons, and

Although I have lost more than 60 lbs by now, I still hate seeing so many clothing companies not considering all body shapes. Plus size never has cute bras, flattering leggings, or designs made for these real body types. That’s what makes me love being a representative now for Zyia Active, a company that truly  caters to all body types.

There are many different ways to join me here. You can take on the business fulltime and hit the ground running to give you more time with your family at home. You can go part-time and make it an important part of your finances, or work it as a side hustle like me!

Finally I will tell you, we are always looking for brand ambassadors, so score some great deals and on your new favorite active and athliesure wear brand!

A Meal-Prep Solution for Everybody

Meal prepping can actually be accomplished in a number of ways, despite what you may have assumed. Every one has their own style in the kitchen, so why should we all meal prep the same? There is a meal solution out there for everyone, no matter what kind of cook you are (or are not!)

If you aren’t meal prepping yet, consider one of these ways to help yourself each week in the kitchen depending on how you need to optimize your time and days!

The “All-In” Prep Queen

You thrive on preparedness, and so it is essential that you have all your meals prepared in advance, even if it means buckling down over the weekend and getting everything ready to go for the week. Lunches are planned and organized for easy grabs during the week. Dinners too are well-prepared in advance to optimize your time at home during the week. It’s not a bad idea to freeze full meals in tin trays that can be easily reheated in the oven. Breakfasts are easy to plan for in advance with granola bars and fruit, but you might also enjoy blending an overnight oats for some additional nutrition and flavors, while still being something you can grab off the shelf easy.

The “Easygoing” Prep Queen

You don’t struggle finding time during the week to cook your lighter meals, but not having to cook a full dinner on your own every night is certainly a load off your shoulders. Cook a few simple meals in advance that freeze well and can be reheated in the oven, or at least marinade some meat and vegetables so they are ready to go when you’re ready to cook.

Sometimes this is me. I’ll cook full meals in advance to steam or reheat in the air-fryer for dinner. At the end of the day, especially a long one in the office, the last thing I want to do is cook dinner. By freezing something in a tin, dinner is on the table by the time I get home because I call my man on my way to just put it in the oven to reheat! Learned this trick from my mom, calling us on her way home from work to turn on the oven for her turkey or vegetable lasagna dinner! (Don’t worry, we were older by the time she entrusted us with such a task… just once we were able to walk!)

The Prep-Prepper

Your pantry is already organized fairly well, but now you take it a step further and prepare the preparations, so prep the prep! When you’re putting the groceries away, you’re doing your best to keep your recipes together so it’s all there and easy to grab during the week. You waste no time with efficiency.

The List Lady

You thrive on lists. You love nothing more than checking something off, whether it’s “pick up groceries” or “cook steak”. You are better off writing your meal plan for the week and tacking it to the refrigerator. Afterall, you have plenty of time to cook dinner since you manage the rest of yours so well with your lists and agendas!

There is nothing wrong with a good list. At the very least, a list on the fridge of all the healthy snacks and foods in the cabinets is an awesome tool to make healthier choices. Sometimes the unhealthy thing you reach for all the time is just the easiest thing, like muscle memory. Have a list in your face reminding you about the apple sauce, pretzels, fresh fruit and frozen yogurt in the kitchen is a far greater tool than any other to keep yourself focused. Better yet, move all these healthy snacks to the front of your cabinets and fridge!

Health Tips for Holiday Feasts and Festivities

by: Danielle Ternyila

It’s about to become the most sugary time of year, and not just because of the sugar plum fairies dancing in our heads. We all know with the holidays comes junk food, delicious treats, and too many side dishes. Losing weight, or maintaining, can be incredibly challenging for these reasons, as well as all the additional events and celebrations. Spending more time with family and friends often goes hand-in-hand with overindulging.

Since my weight loss journey began, I have held myself accountable even during the holidays. After a few years of giving it my all, I have a few lessons to share that can make your life easier and your plate lighter. Whether it is just making smarter decisions around the table or putting in some extra effort, your health can get through Halloween candy, Thanksgiving dinners, and all the end-of-year celebrations unscathed (somewhat).

1. Pack It Up

The first rule of eating healthy out is to just bring your own food! It can feel really “extra,” but there are a number of smart ways to do this! I get it; why cook your own dinner if you’re going out to eat with your friends or family? It is, however, the easiest way to avoiding the extra calories and fats.

For smaller scale events with friends, I will pack myself my own meal if there are plans to eat dinner together or such. Yes, that means awkwardly walking into a party with my own Tupperware (I recommend glass for easy reheating in the microwave!) and eating my chicken, rice, and veggies while everyone else enjoys the big pot of pasta and garlic bread. Do I ever look back and regret not eating that pasta though? Nope!

Instead of bringing your dinner plate, you can also bring your own desserts! I have a problem with gluten, which is typically the main ingredient in most treats (brownies and cookies and cakes, oh my!). To avoid these temptations, I bring fruit with a dip most of the time. My go-to is pistachio dip, and by bringing this or some gluten-free cookies along, I’m not only a great guest, but I’m doing great at prioritizing my health too!

2. Bake Smart

The internet is a beautiful thing; it gives you access to some incredible recipes, some thousands or millions of them, that is! Search for healthy recipes, and you will find plenty to scroll through. However, there are some simple swaps you can do with most recipes to make it healthier without having to reinvent the wheel.

Have a cookie recipe you just love? Swap the flour for some almond flour. Consider replacing eggs with apple sauce in a recipe to lower cholesterol, fat, and sugar. Use dark chocolate instead of milk or white, and research sugar alternatives; stevia, for one, is a natural sweetener without all the calories, emphasis on natural!

3. Greek Yogurt Is The New Cauliflower

This is the most genius food to hit supermarkets, if you ask me! I always have some in my fridge because I use it regularly, and not to just eat with a spoon. I’ll freeze my favorite flavors for a yogurt-based ice cream, or I’ll scoop a dollop onto my tacos to act as sour cream. It is easy to substitute for many things, and when you’re using the right flavors, you will never taste the difference.

Did you know? You can use Greek yogurt to replace butter, sour cream, heavy cream, and mayonnaise in most recipes? Paired with the right food, you would never notice the difference. It’s like cauliflower – we’ve replaced pizza crusts, chicken nuggets, and even pasta with this super healthy alternative that takes flavor of whatever is mixed with it. Greek yogurt is just as versatile!

I have swapped out some key ingredients for Greek yogurt and served it to friends and family. I’ve replaced the sour cream with plain non-fat Greek yogurt without them knowing the wiser, used it in chicken salad to replace the mayo, and even baked it into desserts; this should be a whole food group of its own with all the possibilities that come with it. My favorite recipe lately is to use it for 2-ingredient bagels! (All it takes is Greek yogurt and self-rising flour, or a gluten-free alternative flour with yeast!)

4. Talk Yourself Up

This sounds superficial, but there’s a method to the madness. Tell your family and friends about your diet, your journey, your successes and failures. Brag about your health accomplishments as much as you brag about your child doing something hard. Make it known that you are conquering your health goals. When you do, you’ll be much less tempted to indulge because everyone will be watching you; you told them all you’re behaving on your diet, so why would you want to be caught cheating an hour later?

It’s also really nice to have a support system behind you, which is why you should be telling everyone about your journey, or your closest family and friends at the very least. The more people you tell, the more there are to hold you accountable. Even if they don’t say anything, you will think twice about picking up an extra slice of pie because you don’t want to let them down now either since telling them your big plans.

5. Make Realistic Plates

If your holidays are anything like mine, you and your 40 closest family members will be jumping in line to wait for all the delicious food, and you all will fill your plates to the brim! Be realistic. You only need so much food for 1 meal, so it’s super easy to overindulge this time of year, especially after waiting so long on that line to finally get in front of the stuffing and mac-n-cheese!

When I finally get here, I make a realistic plate for myself; I don’t put anything on it that I know I won’t enjoy; I avoid “empty calories”, which is what I call foods that don’t provide any real nutritional-value. At my holiday parties, that’s usually the dinner rolls, pasta, fried mozzarella sticks, and all that deliciousness. Next, I focus on vegetables and meats and fill my plate with those first, then I’ll see how full my plate is before I add anything else. I stick away from anything fried or coated in cheese, and I eat it all slowly once I sit down.

Why eat slow? Your body can’t break down food as fast as you’re chewing it down, and it hardly gives you the opportunity to enjoy and appreciate your meal. You should also give yourself realistic time between helpings, too! Going back for seconds? Give your body 20 minutes to digest what you just ate first because by then, you might already be full! We tend to eat faster than our stomachs, and that leads to overeating.

6. Get Active First

I don’t regret any of the Christmas or Thanksgiving days that I started in the gym, as much as you think you might. Some gyms have limited morning hours to plan around, but even if you just go for a jog in your neighborhood before the festivities or take your dog to the park for a bit, you’ll feel great, you’ll feel strong, and you will not feel weak when the treats come out.

I recommend getting active before you celebrate for several reasons. You’re going to feel happier, lighter, and more confident by working in a sweat before the day begins. Exercise boosts your metabolism, so you can burn more calories during the day. It enhances your self discipline, so you really are more likely to stay strong against grandma’s cookies. It sets the tone for a healthier day!

More than that, a 30-60 minute workout is sure to give you more energy throughout the day, which is never bad on a busy holiday! Regulate your hormones and appetite with a little activity. That’s only 2‐3% of your day! It is too easy.

7. Love Yourself First

All-in-all it is most important to put yourself and your health first, but it’s just as important, if not more, to love and forgive yourself. We all mess up. No one is perfect, and if you slip up, eat bad, or overindulge on your Halloween candy and turkey dinner, remember you are human. Tomorrow is always a new day to begin again!

Take Advantage of Our Unemployment Crisis: Find Your Passion

by: Danielle Ternyila

If you asked my younger self what I wanted to do when I grew up, I don’t think I truly knew the answer for a long time, but I did know one thing: I wanted to love whatever I did.

I paid a lot of attention to the adults in my life and their careers. It was a horrible fear that I would one day get sucked into some tireless job that I couldn’t stand. Think about it: 5 of 7 days a week with the same people from morning to sundown… If you get yourself stuck somewhere you’re unhappy doing something you have no passion for, how is that good for you mentally? It sounds so draining, exhausting and miserable. I never want that.

How can you avoid this? Do hard things! Whether you apply for a completely new job to see if it’s the one for you or you take a local or online course to test the waters first, the only thing standing in the way of where you are now and where you want to be is yourself. You cannot take the easy way out, you have to do hard things, like start over, learn something new, or take on a new commute.

You have to work hard to get to where you are your happiest. It doesn’t come easy, but it’s worth it to wake up on a Monday and think, “Yay! Back to the Grind!”

Not everyone knows what that “perfect job” for them is, which is okay. It’s not easy to find that perfect piece right away, sometimes you have to try on a couple shoes until you find the one for you. A job interview, however, is not much different than trying on that glass slipper.

Job interviews are your key to finding what you’re looking for. Already have a job? Good! Then you risk nothing with a quick phone interview about a potential new career choice. Walk into that interview, for whatever gig you applied for on Indeed or LinkedIn, knowing you already have a job, and ask questions to determine if this open position is a good fit for you. While the interviewers want to know if you’re right for the role, it’s also about you and whether the role is right for you.

The pandemic has caused major issues in employment around the country, which can make this an opportune time to give something new a try. Put yourself out there, and you never know what you could find. If you don’t, you’ll be stuck in the same place ten years from now, sulking on a Sunday night and daydreaming of better days.

It’s not easy, but you should never stop fighting for your happiness, especially in your career. If you have the flexibility to take a risk, do it! Apply, try something new, interview for jobs you may have never dreamed of. Ask friends and those around you about their careers. What do they do? What do you find interesting?

If you don’t have the flexibility to just jump ship for a new career, then ask questions instead and take it slow. Interview for some different positions, but make sure you ask your questions – ask what the job requires, what the day-to-day looks like, the company culture, what the team is like…. If you already have a job, you have nothing to lose in a 15-minute phone interview, so ask all your questions. That’s what an interview is for after all – finding out if you’re a good fit for them and if they’re a good fit for you.

You don’t have to hate the one thing you do the most – if you invest in yourself and take the time to truly find something you love in a company you appreciate, you will feel happier in the long run. I didn’t want to say it, but I might as well: do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.

And I hope it goes without saying, but you can do anything you put your mind to – follow through with action, discipline, and hard work, there’s no telling how far you go.

Halloween Tricks for Parents

by: Terry Ternyila

Making traditions makes memories. Halloween doesn’t have to be all about the candy. We have so many memories of pumpkin farms, carving Jack-O-Lanterns, decorating the yard, and making spooky or funny costumes. Halloween should be a fun holiday for kids and parents. Here are some tips that my family has found useful:

Encourage Creativity

Encourage kids to think of costumes that are original and something they can make on their own or with you. Some of our best Halloweens were when we had the one-of-a-kind costume, like using a box as a Rubik’s cube or yarn, a hat and glasses to make Cousin It from the Addams family.

Come up with a family theme – see if you can get the whole family involved in the idea and dress up. We love to find ideas that get the whole family dressed up and include the dogs too, like Wizard of Oz or Pirates!

Go Out with Friends, Ghouls and Spirits

Plan to go out with friends.  It doesn’t have to be all about the kids; it can also be fun parent-time to walk around chatting with friends while the kids run door-to-door. A little travel cup with “spirits” in it always makes the night better too.

Kids Are Unpredictable

If you have little ones those bags get heavy or sometimes they just need a little break, bring a wagon to put stuff in or just give a little ride if you need to. By the end of the night I know half of the costumes have come off. You can bring jackets or a blanket with you for those chilly nights.  You can bring water with you and maybe even the dog wants to come along. It is better to be prepared for whatever happens, and the wagon certainly makes it easy.

The Real Treat Is Giving

It doesn’t always have to be about collecting candy, either. Kids have just as much fun giving out candy, and some may be less interested in all the walking around or costumes. We have always had dogs, so the door knocking can just be a lot. Set-up some chairs out front for your kids to sit and watch all the people walking dressed up. Let them hand out the candy and enjoy the fun of giving too!

Party in the Front Yard!

This is also a good time if you want to sit with your neighbors out front to chat while you hand out candy.  Pull the grill out front with some chairs and cooks up some burgers. Maybe you have a fire pit table or portable fire pit.  Make it a fun night to catch up with friends or family. Invite the grandparents over to watch.

Introduce: the Buy-Back Candy Program

The kids love going door-to-door, but they usually end up with more candy than any of us would like them to consume.  Once we got home the kids would always dump out their candy and sort it.  They would do some trading for favorites.  Then we would offer to “buy back” candy. We had a 2-cup measuring cup, and we would pay $1 for every 2 cups they would dump back in our bag for the trick or treaters.

The kids would go through their candy and pull out what they didn’t really want and what they were willing to part with and we would give them the cash to spend on a toy or save for something they wanted. This became very popular in our house and really cut down on the loads of sugary sweets they had, and it even gave them a little lesson on the value of a dollar.

It’s unlikely you’ll have enough trick or treaters to take all of these candies in your Buy-Back Program, you can check local shelters that will take the donation, or otherwise candy never fails to disappear when left unattended in a breakroom.

Although adults now, my 3 kids still look forward to doing these traditions long after growing out of the trick-or-treating phase, and those are some of my favorite memories. No matter how you choose to celebrate the day with your family, make memories and traditions.

Happy Halloween everyone!!

10-Week Holiday Cleaning Challenge

by: Danielle Ternyila

The holidays always come up quick, and you never believe me until it happens. Don’t let these next 2 months slip by! Plan ahead using this simple 10-Week Cleaning Countdown to the Holidays! Each week, take on just one task, which you can get done in one weekend or dispersed over the course of 7 days.

By the time the holidays are here, your home will be clean and clutter-free. How amazing would that be? Think of it as a little holiday gift to future-you, from past-you! Isn’t past-you the best?

Week of October 17 | Purge Day!

It’s time to let go, let go of everything you and the fam haven’t touched in a long time. Look in your closet and toy bins (but don’t worry about clothes for now!), think about those books and games collecting dust. “Grab a garbage bag and start tossing,” as my mom says. Take out the bag and check out all these hiding spots around your home and throw out as much as you can.

If you can’t let go of everything, you could also make a storage pile. Pick up some boxes or totes and pack them up for storage. Either way, get it done this week to begin your holiday cleaning countdown.

Week of October 24 | Donation Time!

It’s time to rip through the closets and dressers to see what clothes you don’t need anymore. Sort through it all, and start tossing it all in a garbage bag again, this time everything you haven’t worn or can’t think of where to wear again.

I told you to skip clothes last week, and that’s because those are easy to donate! If you have clothes in decent shape, there’s nothing to lose (and if you’re like me, I’m sure you have a few unworn pieces with tags someone else deserves after all this time in your closet). Find your local donation bin or organization. If you have children under 10, consider looking into a local mothers group for the clothes your little ones don’t fit in any more! Many organizations are always in need of clothes for kids, like Moms Helping Moms Foundation.

Go through your summer clothes too! Now that you are done with them, add in your bag all the pieces you really never wore. They’re just wasting space, anyway! Sift through the winter clothes and toss any jackets that won’t fit this year in the bag. Leave no article of clothing left unquestioned! You’ll really be thankful for all the closet space in the end.

Week of October 31 | Car Clean Out

Before the weather gets any colder (and perhaps after all the candy and Halloween parties this week), get outside to clean out the car. If you’re the kind of person who has their sh!t together and their car is spotless, good for you, but I’ll be tossing all the old water bottles and gum wrappers, collecting hoodies lost in my backseat, and vacuuming all the dog hair this week.

I tend to collect a lot of stuff in my trunk over the summer between all the road trips and beach days. Now is the time to get all of that stuff out, make space for transporting gifts around, but especially for all the upcoming holiday shopping that comes first!

Week of November 7 | Toy Swap

This is such an important one for the families with kiddos! The swap is simple: put some toys away in storage and keep a few others out for the kids. With the holidays approaching, it makes room for the new stuff, then in a few months you can swap out some of these with ones that have been in the closet a while. You don’t want to overstimulate the kids with too many options, and it’s easier for them to just have a few to pick from at a time.

This is also great for when you have bored children on your hands! After a while when that first set of toys is boring, throw it in storage (toss everything broken or that has missing pieces), and take out the other bunch of toys you tucked away. They’ll look shiny and new all over again, trust me!

Week of November 14 | Bathroom Scrub

Three priorities in the bathroom when you clean this week: medicine cabinet, makeup drawer, and soap bottles.

Take some extra time this week to declutter your bathrooms from top to bottom. Don’t forget to check out old prescriptions, empty bottles, the toothbrush holder, and the mascaras and eyeshadows you don’t use any more. Some things can get thrown out, some things cleaned. As long as you do a little each day, you won’t have to waste too much time each day this week in the shitter!

Week of November 21 | Pantry Clean-Out

Your pantry, snack cabinets, the fridge and freezers…. Chuck everything old, expired, untouched, and undesired. They’re just wasting space, and your fridge will be full of cookies and big meals before you know it! If you have canned goods, it is easy to find a local organization to take the donation. At this time of year, cans are in great need!

You can also use this week to organize any of these areas as you need. After I declutter and free up space, I will reorganize everything to keep everything in order for the holidays. Future-Me will appreciate this! Yours will too.

Get back in the kitchen this week, and clean this time. I’m talking about the stovetop, the oven, your fridge, the spice rack… Get a deep clean in now (and after the big feast of Thanksgiving) so you have a lot less to stress about next month’s end!

Week of November 28 | Deep Dive in the Kitchen

Again, don’t go crazy and try to fit it all in in one day! You have the whole week, so make your to-do list and check things off as you go! Make realistic goals for yourself, like deep clean stove one day, instead of deep clean the stove, toaster, air fryer, sink, and dishwasher. You can’t always be Super Girl!

Week of December 5 | A Little Pixie Dust!

Time to dust and make this place shine. The holidays are coming, after all! Break out your feather duster and Swiffer. Dust everything and everywhere in your home, and take a few extra minutes to clean the windows around the house too. Break out the glass cleaner, and you’re almost to a completely mess-free home for the holidays! 2 weeks left.

Week of December 12 | Laundry Week!

This week, take some extra time to do some extra loads and get ahead before next week. You know it’s about to get so busy, so wash the linens, flip the mattresses, and power through! Don’t forget to separate your whites and colors.

Week of December 19 | Finals – it’s crunch time!

With less than a week now, let’s get those last-minute jobs done! Vacuum the house and the furniture, mop the floors, wipe down the counters and bathrooms… Quick tip! Try writing down what you need to get done this week and try checking off more and more each day. It’s never a bad idea to split things up so there is less stress on you each day. Plus, you won’t worry about getting it done at the last minute.

Treats with a Healthy Twist for Your Fresh Picked Apples This Fall

by: Danielle Ternyila

Burn some calories exploring your local apple orchard picking some fresh fruit to use in some of these great apple recipes. There is far more, and much healthier options, than apple pie!

Whether you are looking for a dessert, snack, or even an app, apples are a great fruit to add and can be so easy to pair with when you have a few recipes, like these! Benjamin Franklin once coined the phrase, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” With the antioxidants and immune support, and even fiber among among so many other nutrients, we all know apples should be a part of our diet, so there is no reason to argue with Ben.

1. Apple Chunk Guacamole

Next time you’re making fresh homemade guac, chop up some apple into bite size chunks and mix it in with your other ingredients! My sister gets all the credit for this delicious recipe, but but feel free to try what you want with it. What I will say is: don’t knock it till you try it.

Ashley’s Autumn Apple Guac: 2 ripe avocados, 1 apple, ½ small red onion, 1 garlic clove, ¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves, 1 lime, and a pinch of salt. Dice, chop, and mash these ingredients as you normally would for your homemade guacamole, then cut up that apple into small bite-size chunks to mix in too. It will add unique and sweet flavor to this classic party recipe.

2. Apple Dessert Nachos

This is a favorite no one can turn down! Slice your apples into thin wedges like chips, drizzle them with nut butter (this will get you some protein, too!), and top with coconut shreds, dark chocolate chips, and cinnamon for a delicious and healthy apple snack. If you want to keep your apple slices fresh, use a little lemon juice to keep them from browning.

3. Apple Oatmeal for Breakfast

Add apple chunks to your morning breakfast for some added seasonal flavor! Oatmeal is a great source of fiber, and there are plenty of options out there now if you need breakfast with more protein or less sugar. You can also add some apple chunks to a new overnight oats blend to get in all the fall flavors early and get you excited for the day!

My favorite combination for apple overnight oats include almond milk (always my preferred milk!), apple chunks, nonfat greek yogurt, cinnamon, and some almonds or walnuts for a crunch!

4. Apples in a Sheet-Pan Dinner

This is a favorite autumn dish for me! I’ll add in chunks of apple with unique dishes some might normally not consider. Much like my sister’s incredible guacamole, some sliced apple adds a unique taste to your dinners. What I love about a sheet-pan dish is I can cook it all at once!

Brussel sprouts, sweet potato, apple and chicken is a delicious combination, or try sausage, potatoes, and squash. Skip the same boring dinners and apple pie desserts; combine apples and some simple dishes, or even in a skillet dish, and you’ll find some delicious new meals to add to your weekly rotation of recipes!

5. Bake with Homemade Applesauce

Use those fresh handpicked apples from your local farm to make some homemade applesauce, which can also be used to replace eggs in most recipes, providing a vegan alternative even considering other ingredients in the dish. I make most of my cookies now with apple sauce for the sake of a few vegan friends, and the convenience of not having to run to the grocery store when I’m out of eggs. This can be especially helpful with too many apples on your hands after a fun day out this fall! Consider your favorite chocolate chip cookie with apple sauce.

Which recipe are you dying to try now?

True Facts About Cravings We Don’t Talk About Enough

by: Danielle Ternyila

You don’t understand though, I am craving it. It’s easy for you because you don’t like this food. Easier said than done. I don’t care, I just want it. I can start over on Monday. You don’t know how hard it is to say no. You have it easy, you can afford organic foods and have the time to go to the gym.

These are all the excuses I have heard over and over again. Let me tell 10 different people that I lost weight through changing my lifestyle and diet, and I guarantee I’ll hear one of these excuses, if not multiple. My favorite excuse has always been, “I’m Italian!” We say this with pride, as if we are born with bread and pasta in our bloodstream and it’s a sin to ever turn it down.

I grew up in a proud Italian household, so if you think it was easy for me to cut out pasta dinners, pizza, and all my other old favorite foods, you’re so wrong! It is still something I battle with mentally, so don’t tell me “It was easy for you.” I gave it all up for a healthier life and the peace of mind that my body is at its strongest for anything life throws at it. This was a choice I made, but it is a never-ending struggle.

Healthy Changes Begin At Home

Changing habits in my family was an important steppingstone in my health journey. I craved pasta and garlic bread, fried chicken, mozzarella… Once my parents (who I lived with at the time) began eating healthier too and stopped having these foods in the house, it became easier, for the same reason they tell you to throw out all the junk food in the house! Out of sight, out of mind. The hardest part now is when I go out, whether it’s a restaurant, a party, or my grandmother’s.

I know exactly what a craving is when I see one, and it feels just as challenging to overcome today as it was 5 years ago when I started this journey. The difference between my cravings and yours is that I refuse to feed that hunger. The cravings only get stronger the more you cave. When you choose the health and body you have wanted for a lifetime over the meal or snack you’ve been craving for 5-10-or-60 minutes, you are getting stronger. I won’t tell you it’s going to be easier every day, but take pride in conquering cravings. Be stronger that your cravings, and you won’t regret it. I’ve never once looked back and thought, “Man, life would be different if I had that slice of pizza at the party that one time.”

Avoid Addiction

Think of sugar for what it truly is: a drug. It’s addictive, and that’s why when you give into your craving, you are more likely to overindulge. Sugars and fats may make you feel good in the moment, but I’m sure after you eat the 2 cookies per the serving size, you aren’t stopping there. By indulging in these foods, you stimulate the “feel-good” hormones in you, which trigger you to eat more because you’re “feeling good.”

If you have a lot of changes to make to your diet, I recommend weaning things out slowly. No one quits smoking cold turkey for a reason – the same reason that you will fail at cutting out all the crap in 1 night. Slowly take out new things every day and week until you are in a healthier place.

Get Enough Sleep

Similar to the “feel-good” juices that flow through you when you treat yourself, you’re going to experience all different emotions when you don’t sleep right. Lack of sleep can affect your hormones, and those hormones lead to an increased appetite.

Choose Water

Thirst can easily be mistaken for hunger, so it’s important to stay hydrated. Make sure to drink the right amount of water every day to avoid this confusion and overeating. I also enjoy drinking hot water when I know I’m not really hungry (say, I just ate an hour ago); I mix it with lemon or just make some black tea, and it helps to quench cravings!

Don’t Let Your Excuses Win

You can use these excuses, these crutches, to support your decision to keep making unhealthy choices, but it is up to you whether you are OK telling yourself lies like these. There is no reason, no matter who you are, that you can’t become a healthier person. Whether you think you can’t because you’re too overweight, too busy, or too stressed, or maybe you just think it’s just not in the cards for you, you are making that decision yourself. If you choose to believe these excuses, believe that you can’t take care of your health (the one body you have!), that’s on you. When you turn that mindset around and tell yourself you are stronger, you’ll see that was the only missing piece.

Disassociate with the excuses of your life, and every time you hear yourself saying one of these negative mantras, remind yourself instead that you are strong and can do anything you set your mind to, even saying no to all the bad food you’re craving.

What would you choose: the snack you’ve craved for 10-20 minutes, or the body you’ve craved for a lifetime?

Your body is a reflection of how you take care of your health and your self. It is up to you to make the change. No one is going to do it for you.

Here’s the Deal With Your Junk Food CravingsCleveland Clinic Health. December 14, 2020.

Grounding Method: Count Down to Stress Less

by: Danielle Ternyila

Experiencing anxiety is not new, and you’re not the only one feeling like a bundle of stress ready to explode nowadays. No matter what it is you are going through, the best thing you can do is to take care of yourself. Instead of “accepting defeat” against the anxiety and whirlwind of emotions consuming you, focus your attention on things you can do that will help instead of hurt.

Make a conscious decision to do what you can to control yourself and these emotions; ground yourself. Trust me, it sounds so impossible and hard. If you’re thinking “No, I can’t turn it off, the anxiety will never go away,” then take another step back. You can’t think that way or things will never change. Negativity follows negative vibes. To take control of your stress, you first need to accept that you do control this. You have the power to make things better in your life, no one else; they’ve got their own lives to take care of after all.

To gain control in a stressful situation, you can count down with these simple steps, a tried and true coping mechanism for panic attacks and anxiety. Use your 5 senses, counting down from 5, to calm your mind. Your mind may be racing, thinking and worrying over so many things, and I feel you! Now, you can’t turn your brain off, but why not shift gears? Give your mind a new task to clear your thoughts.

Grounding Technique for Stress and Anxiety

5. See – In your head (or out loud if you’re alone and can!), find five things you see. My hands, blinds on the window, a desk plant, blue walls, and a yellow pencil, for example.

4. Touch – Now find four things you can touch. The cotton drawstring on my hoodie, the wooden desk, rubber keyboard protector, and condensation on my water bottle, perhaps.

3. Hear – Name three things you can hear: the air conditioner, birds outside the window, and the neighbor’s car just started

2. Smell – What are two things you can smell? Coconut candle and lemon tea

1. Touch – Finally, think of one thing around you that you could taste (not saying you have to actually taste it). An apple?

It’s that easy! When you go through these simple 5 steps and count down through your senses, you will be able to clear your mind. Whether you’re just a little worried or under stress in a tough situation, this anxiety grounding technique will help you come back to the present and focus on what really matters.

Closet Refresh: Fall Capsule Wardrobe Essentials

by: Danielle Ternyila, ZYIA Active Independent Rep

You deserve a wardrobe that makes you feel your most comfortable and confident! With a new and chilly season upon us, there are a few essential pieces you might be missing from your closet.

Fall style has and always will require layering, which is why it’s important to refresh your look with a few staple items every autumn wardrobe needs. Don’t get caught without one of these and visit the boutique to check out all of the best styles in athleisure wear – well, I like to call it everyday wear!

I’m an independent rep of Zyia Active, and I’m excited to share a few essentials that can take you from the office to the gym, and even out for date night too. Need help with sizing? We carry sizes XXS to XXXXL, and I’m available any time to assist in finding yourself the right size. Consider me your personal/virtual shopping buddy with all the answers!

Soft N Snug Leggings

No one can resist the soft hug of our Soft n Snug leggings! While there are only a few select colors and patterns available, they all scream “fall fashion”. These offer a mildly compressive fit similar to our well-known Light n Tight line, designed with the same sweat wicking, adaptive stretch, anti-chafe seams and materials of our Light n Tight line. Even though it isn’t as form-fitting, the Soft N Snugs include a mid-rise waistband that provides gentle support to your shape so you can wear these feeling your most comfortable and confident. Who doesn’t want that?

Style them up or style them down. They also come in 2 different lengths: 24-inch and 28-inch inseam. Myself being 4’11”, the 24-inch length is the perfect ankle-length for me, but I’ll rock the longer style now and again with a scrunched bottom or tucked in my boots.

Pictured: Black Heavenly Long T with Black Mosaic Pocket Soft n Snug Mid-Rise 7/8 24″

Black Heavenly Long T

This classic black long-sleeve tee with thumbholes is light weight but so so soft too with our famous four-way stretch material! This fall top is sure to flatter any body with a subtly ruched seam between the shoulder blades and a more relaxed fit with a slightly longer back.

Everywhere Pants

These pants, as you might assume, are designed to go everywhere with you! Both water- and wrinkle-resistant, they are great for travel, but you can also dress them up with a pair of boots or heels and a blouse for the office or night out. You can even sport our everywhere pants at the gym with sneakers and your favorite tank!

Take a close look at the band, too! Unlike those less comfortable office slacks, you won’t have to deal with nasty zippers or buttons anymore with our flat no-roll waistband that adds stability (without bulk!). Overall, the fabric is lightweight and cool, ideal for the “in-between” fall weather. The olive everywhere pants are the perfect fall color, but the black and navy deserve attention too!

Pictured above: Maroon Swirl Tank with Olive Everywhere Pants

Swirl Tanks

These versatile cotton-feeling tank tops are great for dressing up and down but especially layering! The back features a unique swirl design that rests at your lumbar, which makes for a stylish twisty hemline that is just clingy enough to hug you during a plank but not accentuate your stomach or hips like a fitted top would. As most of our products, the swirl tank too uses sweat-wicking four-way stretch material, so it is truly designed for everyone, business professionals looking for something to layer under a blazer or cardigan, athletes needing an extra layer over their sports bra, or anyone looking to add a simple touch of color with a top that is flattering on any body type.

Oh So Soft Hoodie

Choose between a zip-up or pullover version of this hoodie to keep you warm this fall. A few reasons to love this collection of women’s hoodies: thumbholes, 2 pockets, and they fit true to size, although I recommend sizing up 1 for a looser fit in the zipper hoodie! It is designed with a more fitted look, same cozy warm sweatshirt that you’ll want to stay snuggled up in forever!

Explore these looks and more in my online boutique. This brand is all about versatility, and the clothing is designed to fit every body! Plus size or petite, our clothes are sure to flatter. Coming from size 18 once (now down to a 6 with hard work and dedication!), it is important to me that clothing brands strive to compliment every body, not just the 2’s and 4’s of the world! It took me a long time to find a brand that truly catered to all and doesn’t separate plus-size or petite looks from the “regulars”.

Don’t shop alone! Find me in the Royalty Club to send me a Facebook message or shoot me an email and we can start talking. My favorite part of repping this incredible brand of active and athleisure wear is to help others find the perfect pieces for them! Call me a personal shopper, virtual shopping buddy, or just your rep! Let me give you the best virtual shopping experience you’ve ever had!

Zyia Active | Independent Rep Danielle Ternyila

Confessions of a Coffee Addict

by: Danielle Ternyila

I consider myself a true coffee-lover. For as long as I can remember, my days begin with brewing myself a cup or pot. On the off-days I don’t do this, you can guarantee I’ll be in the Starbucks drive-thru or QuickChek line instead – and none other, because I have coffee-standards!

Coffee is celebrated every day in my little world, but its grounded pleasures are especially recognized October 1 for International Coffee Day. In honor of this day, let’s talk about some of our favorite caffinated beverages sometimes confused with true c-o-f-f-e-e!

We are all familiar with the wild assortment of drinks Starbucks, Dunkin, and other coffee shops offer. If you’re an avid customer, you’ve enjoyed your share of frappuccinos, lattes, and machiattos. After a few years working in one of my favorite coffee shops in college, I learned more about these and all the other goodies we love – including how they are made and what exactly we are consuming.

Don’t assume the milkshake-like consistency is any less caffeinated than the other menu items, but it is not coffee-based either. It can vary where you are ordering it, but one thing that remains is the large amount of fat, sugar, and calories. All the flavors are sugary syrups, then you add whole milk into that and you’re over 25-85 grams of sugar depending on your flavor of choice.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t need that many calories for just 12 ounces of coffee.

Lattes and macchiatos are among the most popular espresso drinks you can grab, but these vary in a lot of ways. Depending on the flavors and milk options, you can be consuming anywhere from 180 to 600 calories.

There is more to keep in mind than caffeine when enjoying these too. I know what to expect with these drinks: small latte gets 1 shot espresso, medium 2 and large 3, but if they’re iced, they each get an extra shot, and that large-iced is probably going to get 5 shots, which is an extreme amount of caffeine for 1 drink consumed within an hour. If I add in a flavor, I expect anywhere from 3-6 pumps of liquid sugar, whether it’s a simple syrup for sweetener, caramel, vanilla, or pumpkin.

If for some reason you’re in a rut where you can’t access true coffee, the best bev hidden on the menu is an americano. It gets its name from years ago during WWII. American soldiers were often caught pouring hot water in their espresso to water it down so it was more like the coffee they were accustomed to.

The best part about an Americano is the lack of calories! Similar to coffee, a black cup of coffee or espresso can have as little as no calories. When you add in creamer and sugar, it will vary, but if you can wean off those to black coffee, no sugar or creamers, you will be golden!

Tip! Slowly substitute out the less healthy add-ins with alternatives like almond milk and stevia. Add less and less now and then to get your tastebuds used to the simple pleasure of coffee on its own! If you really want to add a little flavor, consider mixing in some of your caramel protein shake. [Visit us in the Empowerment group on Facebook to learn more on this tip!]

One last thought to share on coffee. It can be a really great boost in the morning, but you still don’t want to overuse it. Coffee should be drank in moderation, which is another reason to shy away from some of those fancy espresso drinks. Caffeine has also been linked to anxiety, and so you should be mindful of how you feel and consider that when you pull up to your local drive-thru.

Decaf coffee can still be an alternative, and one I lean on when I know I’ve had enough caffeine but I still need something to sip to get me through the end of a long day. I don’t allow myself any caffeine later than 4pm as well since it’s effects can linger for several hours after consumption (potentially up to 10 hours or longer depending how much you consume). Just some food for thought!

Cheers to Our Dogs, the Ultimate At-Home Support System

by: Danielle Ternyila

My life became a mess when I lost my dog, to say the least. In fact, the whole world ended, or at least shut down. We parted ways as she crossed the rainbow bridge just 2 months before I would come to work from home as much as she always dreamed when the pandemic hit. After 13 long years with that beautiful husky mutt we rescued when I was a kid, we said goodbye and I started a life without her, in perhaps not the best of times either.

Turns out life without a dog sucked. The pandemic certainly didn’t help by adding in new layers of stress and nightmares to live through. Things never felt right, until I met a new furry friend.

We rescued Clyde, a 4-year-old shepherd mix, almost a year later, and I can’t believe how much in my life has changed. In a way, I’m getting “back to normal.” My angel kept me together at times I didn’t even know I was tearing at the seams. She gave me something to look forward to at home every day, but more than that a reason to wake up, literally.

There is something just so pure about the love a dog has for its human. They will love you endlessly no matter what. You never feel ashamed or judged by your dog, you can trust them with everything. They provide company so you are never truly alone. They help you to feel safe and protect you.

My dog was my other half, and I took that for granted. Without her my anxiety spiked, I was less active, I had a harder time getting out of bed in the mornings, and I even ate a lot worse by falling off routines I was primarily on for her sake.

Moral of the story is, you can never lean too much on your dog (well, mentally unless you have a very large dog)! Whether or not your doctor warrants it, your dog is your emotional support system, your buddy, your protector. Next time you’re feeling stressed, alone, or just confused, take the fluff ball out for a walk or to the park. You’ll both feel really good after burning some energy, even just a walk around the block.

It is never easy to lose a pet, but find solice in knowing your dog will feel better when you get someone new by your side again to take care of you as they had. If you’re fortunate enough to have a second dog, know the baton has been passed and there is plenty of space in your heart to love more.

This is my shameless plug to remind you all: Adopt Don’t Shop! I’m a proud rescue mom. With love and care, you can’t notice the difference between a rescue and breeder-dog (except the health risks that are associated with dogs from breeders!) You’re not perfect either, and so you should consider doing your research through the many available websites and apps now to find the right furry mate for you among the 70 million homeless dogs in the country.

Control Your Reaction in Stressful Situations

by: Terry Ternyila

One lesson I wish I had learned earlier in my life is that the only thing I can control is my reaction and truly how impactful it is on my mental and physical health. 

Usually if I am in a stressful situation, my emotions normally take over. I would either be snappy or upset which just seems to fuel the fire of anxiety and stress for sure.  I would let that energy take over me and I would feel defeated. It also would provoke a reaction from whom ever I was with in a negative way as well as they are feeding off my energy, so as a mom this usually left a negative environment for the whole family.

I feel like I have to practice mental yoga in order to process the situation in a calm manner, to really think about it before I react.  I need to weigh out what is the “worst case” scenario in my head. I need to try to communicate through it without the emotion and let go of the things I cannot control. It’s something I have to practice every day. It doesn’t come natural and sometimes I fail for sure. I feel like the little voice in my head has become my therapist to talk through situations before I react.

I had to learn to let some things go. When I am frustrated it’s like a magnet, then everything bothers me. Once I am in that negative head space, I feel more things would bother me and just keep sticking to me, making me even madder as time went on until I erupted.  The negative feelings would just keep the ball rolling…if I was having a bad day I just carried it with me all day and left a wake of destruction behind it as I was reacting to it all day. It just triggered me more.

But I can say my life has improved so much just by changing my reaction to things that happen. I can see how it has changed my relationships with my husband and kids. They play off my emotions so I am setting the tone. Being more calm with my reaction has set that tone with them as well.

I can also see how much it helped me in my journey for a healthy lifestyle. Not letting my reaction derail my progress for sure. You are going to stumble along the way, my reaction would usually lead me to feel like a failure. It would lead to more bad decisions until I gave up all together.

I can honestly say by just controlling my reaction, I feel better and lighter as I go through the day. Give it a try this week, instead of giving in to frustration and yelling. Try to control your reaction, be more patient, calmer and focus on the positive.

Achieve Your Health Goals Like a Pro

by: Danielle Ternyila

I wish I was the kind of person that meal prepped. I wish I liked salads and healthy foods. I wish I could afford organic ingredients. I wish I had time to cook better meals. I wish there was enough time to go to the gym.

No, you’re not the only one thinking these things and struggling to take back your health for reasons like these. These wishes sound so hopeless, but telling your self any of this is NOT going to make things happen for you. Your health should be your number one priority, above anything else you do, and there is no reason you can’t.

No one is born to meal prep or cook specialty meals. Those people who do, though, actively choose to live that life. They don’t wish for things to happen, they make them happen. And if you have been struggling to get past the wishing and daydreaming, start acting.

We’ve all heard it in so many ways: actions speak louder than words. This is true even in achieving your goals. Telling yourself you can’t do it with these petty wishes and “Debbie Downer” thoughts will never will it to life. You set yourself up for failure every time you talk down about yourself, whether it is in the privacy of your mind, your car, or in a rant to a friend.

The only thing standing in the way of achieving your goals is the excuses you allow yourself to believe. At the end of the day, it is all just that. You don’t like salad is an excuse to eat bad instead. You don’t have time is an excuse to get out of 30 minutes at the gym. You can’t meal prep “right” so you stick to your old unhealthy habits.

Make the decision to follow your dreams. Do what you need to do make them a reality. Go the extra mile, put in the time even when you think you can’t, and tell your mind to “shut up” every time it tells you another excuse.

You can’t just wish for it. You have to work for it. And it never gets easier, you just get stronger!

Conquer the Stress of Back to School

September for most of us is a reminder: back to school!  With that brings a lot of stress for parents. All the extra expenses of school supplies, new clothes and backpacks, getting the kids up early and out the door while still getting to work on time. Add into that the daily fights for homework, showers and bedtimes… Here are some tips for conquering the “Back to School Stress” from a mom who has survived it, 20 years in a row.

The one part of back to school that I enjoyed was the organizing. I am a nut for organizing, and although my kids were not all as enthusiastic about it, I know it made their lives a little easier.  

  • Calendar – One trick I learned was hanging a dry erase calendar in the kitchen. Each family member had a different color marker so we could track activities and appointments, then later as they grew: all the work schedules. There are apps that also will do this and share electronically to all members if that works better for you, but having everyone on board to see what is going on is great.  Often with after school activities, one parent is running around with the kids, so it’s good to be able to look to see where others may be at and when you will get home.  You can also plan in advance when you know days are going to be crazy, so plan an easy dinner or set up a carpool schedule to help.
  • School supplies – The schools have at least gotten better about giving you the list before school begins so you can bargain shop before everything is out of stock. Nothing was worse than the night after the first day of school, everyone is in the store fighting for the last 5-subject notebook.  I know when I would see deals on 1 cent notebooks or dollar store composition books I would buy them to keep for the next year. After school starts if you see the sales, pick up some extra supplies and keep a box in a closet. You will always need extra. 
  • Color coordinate – I would try to color coordinate notebooks & folders for the same subjects for each kid…green would be science, math would be blue, etc. It made it easier for them to grab in their lockers. 
  • Inbox – Have one spot in your home for all papers that you need to see and complete. If you have more than one child, perhaps a wall box with folders for each kid that they can put papers for you to sign and you can put back for them to put back into their bags.
  • Routine – Setting a routine is key to sanity. Setting the expectation with kids is also important. Each kid was different when it came to needs. Some needed more hand holding and some were very independent. So not all routines and expectations are the same. Have a time that homework needs to be done by. My oldest liked to get it done and not think about it about it but my youngest needed down time after school and was better if she did her homework later. A slower schedule, especially if you have more children, will help keep the peace. My youngest, since she was slower in getting ready in the mornings and prefered to sleep as late as possible, would be on a night shower schedule. Right after dinner she needed to get in and get it done, as she also did not like going to bed early so she would drag it out.   Finding what each child needs and how to build a structure for it will make everyone’s lives a little easier.
  • Lunches – One of my least favorite things was the lunches, so everyone knew I would make their lunch with resentment. And it showed.  Since I did not like to prepare lunches, my husband would take that role over for me. He enjoyed making their lunches special by cutting their sandwiches funny or leaving notes for them with a joke or an “I love you”.  This task did not bother him so it worked out better that he would handle that. The key here is to prep the night before instead of waiting for the morning, or delegate.
  • Communication is key – Talk about what is overwhelming you and find a solution. You don’t have to just keep feeling that way. It’s good to talk with the kids on what they can do to help you. It’s also good to talk to them to see if they are feeling overwhelmed and if there are things you can do to help them out too.  Some routines just need adjusting until everyone is in a good place. When something isn’t working, change it up.  Work as a team. There were days when I did not have the patience for the homework sit-down and my husband would take over.  Some tasks were more stressful for me than him so we would work that out.
  • Life/work balance – Set aside some time for yourself, walking with a girlfriend or going out for coffee to just have some “me” time is crucial to the life/work balance. Because let’s face it, being a mom is a full time job so you have to make sure you give yourself time to yourself.

I don’t miss the days of the busy school mornings, shooting like a drill sergeant every morning, get up, get dress, get your shoes on, get your lunch, grab your backpack…lets go out the door. 

September, as I see it, is a time to get back to a schedule. Even though my kids are all adults, I still look forward to getting organized and back on a routine again. We are more than half way through the year, we just made it through the summer. Time to regroup and focus.

Never Underestimate the Power of a Sticky Note

by: Danielle Ternyila

A brief reminder hanging on the door has really saved the day a number of times for myself, and there is no shame in the sticky note game! But do you use these to the fullest to continue motivating you and keep you on track for your goals? If not, you should consider putting pen to the pad and writing down your goal right now.

There is something to be said for putting pen to paper when it comes to your goals. It makes it feel real, and when you have that reminder to drop 10 lbs before Christmas hanging on the fridge or that you are stronger than you believe taped next to your coffee pot, you are doing yourself the favor of being your own accountability buddy.

I use sticky notes to keep me on track with my goals, and they’re actually so helpful. Sometimes I make challenges for myself, like I want to plank every day for a month. I’ll stick the note right next to my light switch as a reminder to get it done. It’s also the perfect place because it’s guaranteed I’ll be standing up and walking away from something else when I see it, and so I’m usually able to take a minute and get down to do it before I head out.

I keep these little notes in places where I will not only see them but also most likely in a time when I will be able to fill through on the call to action. Reminder to buy more dog food on the front door, a note to listen to a new podcast I heard of hanging on my purse for my next car ride, or that little yellow paper can sometimes be found next to the TV remote telling me to get up and drink some water!

These notes don’t always have to be bulleted items that you need to get done. I’ll hang them here and there with words of affirmation, motivational quotes, my goals, and other things that keep me going throughout the day or week. I have one up in the kitchen as we speak reminding me of an upcoming wefigs in 8 weeks and a beautiful dress in my closet that I hope fits. Keeping this note where I can see it in the kitchen every day ensures I am always keeping my goals in mind, especially when I enter the kitchen because that can sometimes be my biggest weakness. I update it weekly with the next countdown too, so I never get tired of seeing the same thing.

Do you leave yourself reminders or words of affirmation on sticky notes? You can use these to help create healthy habits, concentrate on what’s most important to you, and boost your self esteem. Leave yourself a note on the bathroom mirror with a new inspirational quote, or tape one up by your night stand to remind you to do self care and relax properly before bed. “Future You” will appreciate the reminder and thoughtfulness!

If you want to take your notes a step further, check out our Inspired corner where you can find a few different printable sheets to keep you on track for maintaining your goals! I use these and even make up my own with a piece of printer paper and a pen. During my weightloss journey, my favorite tool was coloring in circles for every pound I lost. It made it fun, and it was great to see a visual display of my accomplishments taped onto my dresser I go in every day.

You Were Born to Grow

by: Danielle Ternyila

You choose the life you want to live, and if it is unachievable now, you work to reach all those dreams and goals anyway. If you don’t like your life, then you should change it. Change is good, it helps us grow. We were not born to stand still.

Your career plays a major role in the life you live, so needless to say, you shouldn’t waste your time doing things you don’t like. You spend 40 hours a week surrounded by the same people, taking directions from the same managers and doing the same thing 5 days a week until you take vacation, which you may not even do if you’re more of a workaholic than others [whether by choice or too much overtime].

I’ve worked jobs I was terrible at (I still have night terrors from my waitressing days spilling pasta and drinks on most guests), I’ve worked when I was miserable on the job (cue weird bosses and horrible hours), but if I didn’t enjoy it, it did not last long because I would not waste my time doing something that made me feel any less. When I was unhappy and finding less and less pleasure in my every day, I opened myself up to new opportunities instead of letting it ruin my quality of life.

I actually started college as a Psychology major, but after a semester I realized that wasn’t what made me happy, as much as I did enjoy the things I learned. I couldn’t do it for a living though, and so I swapped that for a minor and majored in Writing Arts. Writing is what I love, and I wasn’t even completely sure it was the career path I wanted. It was direction though, and I took other courses and certification classes along my way to boost my resume. More importantly, I kept myself open to new possibilities, took on new jobs out of my comfort zone, and finally got myself to a point where I enjoy my every day.

This will never happen to you, though, if you dont make changes. Change is hard, and I’m the first to have your back when you say change sucks, but you have to do it anyway. You have to do hard things, otherwise you only settle for what’s easy, whether it’s 4 years of education you hate because you think it’s too late, a mind-numbing job that stresses you out but you don’t want to go through the daunting process of starting somewhere new, or maybe you just can’t bare the goodbye to some long-standing friendships you no longer enjoy…. You have to change, or it won’t ever get any better.

Things probably could have been easier at times when I think back over the choices I’ve made to get to where I am today, but I continue to look forward and do what I need to make myself happy. Regret can’t do anything. We cannot live in fear of change when we were born to grow.

My Weight-Loss Journey: It’s All Mom’s Fault

by: Danielle Ternyila

From the moment I started my weightloss journey, my mom couldn’t have played a more vital role; she was my workout and accountability buddy. My biggest fan, cheerleader, constant therapist and the greatest role model a girl could ask for, Mama has been by my side through it all, including countless sweat sessions in the gym.

She herself had started her own journey around the same time I started mine, which was a real wake up call for myself. If mom could lose the weight, what was my excuse? She lost 90 pounds following a weightloss surgery, known as the sleeve, and major changes in her lifestyle. Getting myself to the gym every day was a daunting task, but she was there every step of the way, which was sometimes all the motivation I needed to keep myself on track.

She came to the gym with me every single time I asked. She tried new things with me and showed me new workouts or machines in the gym. Having her by my side, even if just to have someone to laugh with me when I fell off the treadmill or used a machine wrong, made it that much easier for me to go. With your workout buddy by your side, you feel like you can conquer anything, even the terrifying gym filled with fit athletes and big meatheads.

You may not even need an actual “workout” buddy more than you need an accountability buddy. Tell someone your plans, your goals, and your aspirations. Let them keep you in check, ask about your progress, and always be open and honest. The only person you’re hurting by lying is yourself.

They say it takes 21 days to create a habit and 90 days to create a lifestyle. I started hitting the gym with Mama in late September of 2016, and I went every single day the rest of that year, all with Mom’s help. When she couldn’t go with me to the gym herself, she still kept me in check. She asked me if I worked out, she gave me suggestions when I was trying to figure out a busy day’s schedule, and I can’t ignore all of the awesome videos and motivational quotes she shared with me. Even on the days I had to bare the gym alone, she was still always there in some way, holding my accountable.

Just a year before we started our health journeys, the 2 of us made it to Disney World together, and we had a hard time sharing photos of those adventures. We were both in such unhealthy places, every picture seemed to highlight our double chins, and so many photographs from this incredible trip were shared only between us.

Now several years and a pandemic later, feeling free of the weight that once held us down, we got to enjoy a trip to Hawaii together. This time, I made sure to splurge on a photographer to capture these memories. I didn’t have to sit and take breaks throughout the day because I was out of breath, I didn’t have to call it early some days because my feet were in so much pain, and we didn’t feel as guilty eating donuts for breakfast this time around either. Being able to share this journey with someone, whether it’s a friend or you own parental unit, makes it that much more enjoyable in the end.

With your best friend by your side, you can conquer the tallest of mountains and all of your dreams. If you need to lose weight or get healthy, don’t try to do it alone. Tell your friends, tell your mom, ask for help, or at the very least tell them to check in with you! It holds you accountable, and having the support of your bestie as you go makes it all that much easier. If you’re as lucky as I am, there will be lots of laughs too. My mom is the best buddy I’ve got, and I couldn’t have gotten to where I am today, mentally and physically, without her support.

Don’t forget to pop in our private Empowerment group on Facebook, where there is a whole group of us ready to cheer you on and support you as you try to take back your health or lose weight.

Coping With Our New “Normal”

by: Dianna Yphantides

“Should we get the vaccine or not get the vaccine? Should we wear a mask or is it okay not to wear a mask? Should I plan this trip? Should I see this friend? Should we social distance? Should we push off our birthday parties, weddings, dinner plans, and our lives?” 

Hi, my name is Dianna Yphantides. I am a licensed clinical therapist, and these are only a few of the many questions, fears and complications that I have been hearing from many of my clients over the past year and a half due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  COVID-19 is a virus which, like it or not, has changed the way every single person on this planet has lived the past year and a half.  This virus has caused the death of hundreds of thousands of people, caused strains on relationships due to different belief systems, and caused extreme deficits on the mental health and wellness of people regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, and age.

There is not a single person who hasn’t been affected by the roars and decimation of this virus today.  There are countless memes, jokes and jabs at COVID-19 to help keep our world laughing instead of crying.  What I have witnessed in my line of work comes down to 2 things: the fear of the unknown and the difficulty people have been dealing with of not having control of what is happening in our lives.  People have lost the capability to socialize, hug, connect and simply be with people that they love due to fear of this virus.  People have lost the right to feel safe going to places like the grocery store, a restaurant, and the gym, which previously we had taken for granted. 

The isolation of quarantine alone for people has had insurmountable mental health consequences on people.  As human-beings, we are social creatures who crave affection, attention and unity, and the divide this virus has implicated on us all is not something that can be cured overnight.  I have patients who are fully vaccinated who come for in-person sessions with five masks on and I have patients who still have yet to leave their homes since March 2020.  This is not the quality of life that we are used to living.  Children are missing out on extremely imperative socialization and quality learning years and elders are missing opportunities to see their grandchildren grow up, and there is no timeline to tell us when we are going to feel “normal” again– or what normal will even look like after this.

As a therapist, my takeaway from this past year and a half is that it is okay not to be okay.  It is alright to feel lost, fearful, angry, confused and sad sometimes.  This virus is not something that any one of us could have predicted.  Give yourself the privilege and the right to feel your feelings–scream, yell, throw something– do whatever it takes to express yourself, and most important of all, be kind to yourself.  Take a long bath, read a good book, watch a comedy on Netflix, take a walk, meditate.  Do things for yourself which help fill up your cup since the overwhelming nature of this pandemic has most definitely left it depleted.  Remember that it is okay to feel overwhelmed right now.  Do things for yourself; big or small which help you to remember that you are human, you are fallible, and it is acceptable to not be okay in such an uncertain time.

Start And Don’t Stop | Live Life Fit

by: Danielle Ternyila

Day 1 is a day I’ll never forget. I woke up early after a late night out, called my mom, and headed to the gym. I hadn’t been before, and unfortunately high school PE didn’t prepare me for this battle. Armed with a new pair of leggings and my workout buddy, I fought to get my health back on track.

The most important thing I have learned through my weight-loss journey has been the connection between my mental health and physical health. When I was at my heaviest, before I stepped foot in that gym, I was miserable and in a dark place. My life certainly wasn’t going the way I had expected, and I let my anxiety and depression take the wheel. Creating a healthy lifestyle for myself has allowed me to get my life back on track and feel light again mentally.

While I had plenty of weight to lose, my goal was only to get healthier, treat my body right, get stronger…. Your body is your home, so you should take care of it, I decided. I made necessary changes to my diet and lifestyle. I ate healthier, I cooked better, and I got active more. I learned what exercises I liked and other ways to get some “free cardio” in without hitting a gym.

Treading through the first few months of my journey to take back my health, I could see the postive changes in my mood, how I felt, my emotions, and decreasing anxiety levels. I have control again, I am free of everything that was weighing me down before, and by building this lifestyle for myself, I am a happier person for it. I only wish everyone else could experience this, but I too spent many years back and fourth starting diet after diet….

It’s day one or one day, and you make that decision. Sometimes I mess up, sometimes I fall off course, but when you jump back into your routine and healthy habits, it becomes a part of your lifestyle instead of just “some diet” because you feel fat.

Do it for yourself. Do it for your mind, body & soul. Forget the “I’ll start Monday” crap you keep telling yourself, and make the decision to take back your health!

Take care of your body; it’s the only place you have to live!

Travel Smart, Stay Safe | Adventure Is Calling

by: Danielle Ternyila

My career has provided me the opportunity to travel more than I could have eved dreamed, hitting 27 states before I turned 26 and even visiting several countries on my bucket list! Being a young woman and merely 5-ft tall, I’m always careful when I travel, and in some cases I’ve had to learn things the hard way.

It’s become a tradition that any time I am leaving the state, my dad tells me, “Be smart,” and I’m supposed to respond with, “Be safe”. This is his reminder that no matter where I am going or what I am doing, I need to be smart and stay safe. This means being aware of my surroundings and who is around me. It means planning ahead and making the best decisions. I need to make smart choices and be prepared, so now I hope some of the things I’ve learned along the way might help you.

Ubers and Taxis and Lyfts, Oh My!

Did we or did we not grow up on, Don’t get in cars with strangers? It’s definitely different today with so many ride service apps available now, but we still need to take precaution getting in any vehicle.

Before you get in any car when you’re traveling, whether you’re on your own or with friends, ask the driver, “Who are you picking up?” If they don’t say your name, don’t get in, although I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that. When they do know your name, you can take it a step further and confirm your end destination if you’d like, or just make things official and ask their name.

And FYI, never give them your name first! How would that prove anything?

There have been too many horror stories of fake Uber drivers picking people up. Make them confirm with details only your driver should know. Before I even walk up to their window to ask; however, I walk behind the car and check the license plate first, too (Jersey friends, not all states have a front license plate!). I do not care how silly I look walking around a car all the way to the back to stare at the license plate and confirm before even addressing the driver. If they are doing their jobs, they will understand the need to confirm the plate. It’s better to be safe than be sorry.

When I’m traveling alone, or even with my girlfriends, I also do not share personal information out loud, and that includes talking about where you’re from, your hotel, reason for travel, all of it. If the driver asks and you are uncomfortable with not answering at all, you can always bullshit a few answers to appease them. Be mindful of what you say on phone calls in the car, too!

Explore by Foot with Confidence

This brings me right back to studying abroad in Paris and getting up at 4am to get on the train to head to Disney for open, and I can’t forget when I had the pleasure of visiting Barcelona on business and explored a new area every evening for dinner. I’ve learned it’s best to blend in with a crowd when visiting new places on your own, so I map out my route in advance, and I’ll even study Google maps before I head out to make sure that once I start walking down the city streets, I don’t have to constantly stare at my phone for directions like a lost tourist. Of course, that doesn’t mean the GPS isn’t on in my pocket as a back up that I can whip out to look at with a brief glance (maybe 1 headphone in the ear to listen), and my dad already received texts of where I was going.

Always keep an eye around you. Be smart and pay attention to people around you, be aware of your belongings on your person. I’ve invested in a simple anti-theft crossbody that I strictly use when I travel. If you aren’t going that all-out on your trip, stick with bags that zipper all the way shut, perhaps invest in a lock, keep them on the front of your person. Wallets, cash, and your IDs and all should be in a secure pocket, with anti-theft capabilities if possible.

Open bags are easy to be grabbed into, bags out of sight to the owner are a target to pickpockets, and putting your purse on the floor isn’t just unlucky; you’re asking for trouble. Money belts are also another great tool, and always be sure to separate some items, especially credit cards. I lock cash and some IDs in the safe and carry the rest securely in my bag. Of course my travel bag has several safe spots for this stuff, which I’ll get to in a second!

Take Precautions Before You Go

Invest in a birdie! For a fair price, you can get this small device that looks and hangs like a key chain, but when you yank out the bottom piece, a loud and alarming sound will go off. When in need, which hopefully never happens, this thing will draw immediate attention to you and whoever you are trying to ward off. (TIP: the loud noise will also keep away animals if you are in that unlucky of a situation!)

Another alternative I travel with is a small “purse-friendly” pepper spray. The only downside to this is that it is a hassle to fly with. You can take flight only with it stored in your checked baggage, and when you go international, the laws regarding pepper spray can get very strict. I was shocked when I landed in London for my first solo trip and learned that it’s almost completely banned in the United Kingdom.

My PacSafe anti-theft bag with Birdie security

For my first solo trip, my mom gifted me this PacSafe crossbody. It is an anti-theft bag that I bring for every trip, made from tough durable material so no one can cut the strap on it and steal it. The zippers all come down where they can lock onto another little lock, which then also tucks the zippers in to hide them. Of course it even has separate secure compartments for storing IDs and money. It has so many great features, and after 5 years it still looks brand new after all the trips I’ve taken it on. For the peace of mind all these years it has been worth it, and of course it really doesn’t look bad either! There are a number of different bags out there like this, backpacks and totes too!

My favorite feature on this bag is it can lock onto the chair you’re sitting on in a restaurant so you don’t have to worry while you eat!

Traveling Under the Influence

Traveling alone can be some of the greatest adventures, but that’s the most important time to keep your head on straight and mindful of your surroundings. Although I’m not much of a drinker today, I limited myself when I did indulge (because how can you not, when in Rome!). One night I overindulged a little with some friends in LA, and I had the worst panic attack when I got back to my room at the end of the night. I was safe, but feeling tipsy alone wasn’t fun, certainly nothing I would risk either in public when traveling on my own.

Let Someone Know Your Plans

I send my mom my full itinerary every time I travel, and during the trip, I am texting my dad when I leave the hotel, try a new restaurant, or go explore the city. I always make sure someone knows where I am, even if I’m on a different continent at times.

You should always have an accessible phone line, too! When I went to Italy for 3 days with the bestie, I didn’t think I really needed to spend the extra money on an international plan for just 72 hours when I’d be busy exploring all day anyway, but I was grateful I did when I needed to call another friend back home to translate something to the police for me while also trying to calm me down about the man who chased us through the train station; he claimed he was a taxi driver and was very mad when we turned him down as he tried walking us to his car in the visitors lot rather than the taxi line – another great lesson learned!

It all comes down to making smart decisions and choosing safe options, even if sometimes they’re a bummer or awkward when you have to tell the Uber driver you can’t talk. Regardless, be mindful of what you’re traveling with, and who is around you.

Be Smart, Be Safe!

Why Not Every One Loves Working Out

by: Danielle Ternyila

If you don’t enjoy working out, you’re doing it wrong. And yes, it IS that easy. If you’re not enjoying working out, you’re just doing it wrong!

Getting into exercising is not as hard as it seems once you find something you love. When you love what you’re doing, you’re going to enjoy it. That’s just fact, but you have to find what you love in the gym; you can’t just call it a day after forcing out an hour on the treadmill.

For me, my fitness journey really started by trying everything available in my gym, which was the best decision I ever made. They had a lot of different classes, so I was able to go and pop in to these weekly and try them out, whether it was yoga, cycling, Zumba, or HIIT (high-intensity interval training), even boxing and trainers who always had great advice when asked. I really didn’t have any experience working out since I never even went to a gym before, so it wasn’t until I started trying all these different workouts that I was able to love working out.

It really did take a while though, and it took a lot of trial and error. It was essential to be open to new experiences, even though I was definitely nervous stepping into a Zumba or CrossFit class, but in the end I ended up finding what I loved. While CrossFit was something that I really enjoyed doing, especially the competitive part of it and how everyday was something new, I also learned that my body was not able to do such intense workouts. I need to keep my heart rate down, so slower workouts are for me. I wouldn’t have learned that if I didn’t try it first, though!

Finding what I actually enjoyed doing in the gym made it my happy place, and now I am able to find the right gyms that best accommodate my routines (like having the right hours because I more often go at night or having multiple locations because I’m always on the go!) I rely on it not only to workout for my health but when I’m stressed or could use a pick-me-up.

I challenge you to try new things and dare to fall in love with the process. Get out of your comfort zone. There are so many programs available for you to try right from your home even! Beach body, for example, offers a number of online programs you can try from home, or you can always check out classes on your nearby gym’s schedule. Try to visit a friend’s gym and try their routine, or drop into a fitness fundraising event! I fell in love with barre classes after stopping in one that a charity was hosting to raise money.

My First Barre Class in 2018

Don’t forget, no one in the gym is watching you! Read more about why the gym may be the safest place from judgement!

Multi-Tasking Is the New Cardio

by: Terry Ternyila

I am a multi-tasker by nature. I have a hard time doing one thing at a time. If I am watching a TV show I
am usually checking emails or ordering my food shopping online. I keep flossing sticks in my car so I can
floss while driving and I usually catch up with my mom or friends on the phone on my way home from
work so the drive doesn’t feel like a waste.

I sometimes find it hard to just set aside a half hour or hour to just do exercise. In my busy day, that time
just seems to always go to other tasks that need to get done in my day. So I have found ways to add
some of my exercise into my daily routines. Breaking them into smaller sets and working them around
my tasks I already do make it easier to keep to a daily commitment.

When we went into quarantine for Covid, I realize my steps dropped to almost nothing while working
from home, so I started a little bathroom challenge with myself. Every time I went to the bathroom, I would do a set of exercises like wall pushups, squats, or dips off the tub.

It was great and I realized sometimes I would be getting in 100 squats or pushups in a day because I
spread them out all day. I started to use other time like brushing my teeth or being on a conference call to bring in my exercises. I keep small hand weights by my desk at home so if I am listening to a call I can work my arms one at a time. I will do squats while folding laundry into the basket or lunges down the
hallway to bring the basket to the bedroom.

Even in the car, when I get stopped at a red light I will squeeze my cheeks until the light turns green. Same for waiting on line at a store. People can’t tell you are doing it and really tightens up the muscles. It really becomes a challenge for yourself to see where you can find room in your daily routine to do a
little exercise.

I love finding new places to sneak some exercise into my day. My newest spot is when I go tanning I try to find new things I can do in the booth. Depending if it’s a lay down or stand up, I have come up with some creative things I can do in a small spots for my 12 minutes. Doing these exercises throughout the
day also helps keep me focused on my eating and water intake. Get creative see how you can add exercise to your day…..

Or as Danielle would call it: free cardio

Eating Healthy Eating Out

by: Danielle Ternyila

Eating healthy when you go out is so hard, but you shouldn’t give up! I lost 60 lbs in 1 year, and I didn’t have to stop my lunch dates, dinner celebrations out, or attending social gatherings to do it. My biggest tip for keeping up your social life without putting on all the extra pounds is to plan ahead, but I’ve also learned a few more tricks along the way that I can share with you too!

More often than not I can look at the menu of any restaurant I plan on visiting and plan out my dish (thank you, Internet!). Before you arrive and every one starts talking about how good the menu looks, you are less likely to pig out if you can ignore all that. Most places will have a healthy option on the menu, and by looking in advance, you can skip the menu and order the 1 item you planned on having without being tempted by everything else!

Don’t kid yourself either! If you know you will never enjoy the kale salad, don’t plan to order it. Find something that actually looks tasty but nutritious. You’re less likely to change your mind before the waitress comes.

Now, if it were that easy, more people would do it and restaurants would be full of healthy and balanced meals, but alas no one wants that! You’ll always have more bad options than good, and sometimes you’ll find yourself in a scenario where you can’t Google a menu (like all the summer BBQs and weddings), so here are my best tips for staying healthy when you still want to be social, or for those times when you can’t plan ahead as easily:

Purse Snacks Are for Smarties!

If you don’t carry a purse, I’m sorry! But there is value in a good purse snack, be it a bag of chips, granola bar, or even a fruit leather. I can’t tell you how many times I relied on the quick food of a McDonald’s or Dunkin to get me through a commute when I got hungry; it happens so easily, you get caught in traffic and next thing you know, you’re starving and still an hour from your balanced kitchen. If you have a healthy snack on you, then you’re in luck! It’s always there for you when you need a quick snack.

Worst case scenario, opt for a convenience store or gas station for a quick meal, so you can grab some trail mix or a fruit as opposed to that Big Mac or nuggets.

Request Healthy Alternatives

Most places will let you swap out your pasta or fries for rice or veggies. Always be mindful of the sides you’re offered and ask for a substitute. They might ask if you’re allergic, but you can just explain you are eating healthier and cannot do the carbs and grease (or just say you’re not allergic, they don’t need to know everything!)

Another important tip is if you won’t eat it, don’t get it, and I’m talking about the sides of bread and butter that often accompany any meal. Tell the waiter not to bring the bread. You can do that! Whether it’s a basket for the table that no one wants to eat, or a garlic knot on the side of your entree, just tell them you won’t eat it and they can leave it off. You’ll be less tempted if you don’t see it, and it won’t go to waste just sitting on your table either.

If you’re struggling to find something healthy on the menu, you can always ask for things to be cooked different. Can’t find chicken that isn’t friend or coated in oils? Ask them to grill it or cook it in water. You shouldn’t feel bad or self conscious to ask; they should feel bad for not offering healthy alternatives. It is a problem we all face in America when dining, but it’s easy to modify as you need for your lifestyle.

Drink Water – like a lot of it!

I don’t even think I need to explain this one, but I feel a way about “drinking” calories. It’s not worth it! Just drink water, and drink plenty of it! I always ask for a lemon for extra flavor.

The more you drink before your meal comes out, the more full you will feel by the time your food comes! This will help you slow down if you think you’ll overeat your portions too!

Take a Break to Digest

It takes your body about 20 minutes to alert your brain that it is full, which means there’s a 20-minute delay in eating enough and overeating. Once you’ve eaten what you believe to be the serving you needed, just put the fork down. Wait. Chit chat with your company and see if you are still hungry or if you’re full.

You might hear your tummy growling after you’ve gotten in your meal, but again, that still doesn’t mean you’re hungry. Just take your time, hold onto your plate, and if you still feel hungry in 20 minutes, then you can eat more again. However, you’ll see that you fill up quicker you think.

Grab a To-Go Box

The best way to limit yourself is to do it upfront! Ask for a box when you get your dish and split it up before you dig in. They’ll never give just 1 serving, so don’t kid yourself! Put half of it in the box and out of sight before you eat. If you don’t want to be that extreme, then hold your appetizer plate or ask for a spare to split your dish. You’re more likely to overeat if there is double the portion you should have in front of you (and we all know restaurants aren’t serving us only ‘1’ serving!). By separating it before you eat, you’ll stop when you’re filled, not when you’ve cleared the full plate.

Forgive Yourself

No one is perfect. You don’t have to skip champagne and cake at your best friend’s wedding or ditch your burger bun at the summer barbecues. One bad day does not define the next, and when you work as hard as you have been at maintaining a healthy diet, you can forgive yourself for messing up. Just because you indulged more than you wanted for one meal or even a whole day, you are still killing it, you’re still on fire, and you’re still awesome!

My Weight-Loss Journey: Making Healthy Choices

by: Danielle Ternyila

The way my family cooks and eats now is so different than a decade ago, which has been one of the best things for my weight loss journey. In the beginning, my parents were both starting their own journeys to take back their health. My father was doing a fad diet with a nutritionist and a 12-week program that cut calories and limited the types of foods he ate. My mother was preparing for a weight loss surgery, “the sleeve”, and so our kitchen underwent some drastic changes.

I was determined to lose weight my own way. I was only 22, too young to be considering surgery, and I had tried enough fad diets before to know it would not work for me; results were too short term. I needed long-lasting changes to my lifestyle so that I could live my healthiest.

Having just graduated college, I was living with my parents again, and our lifestyle began to change. My dad’s diet encouraged him to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, and so the whole family did too. If mom is cooking dinner, she isn’t cooking a dinner for every one! If the parents planned to do cabbage and ground beef because of their diets, that was the menu. (Like I said, I just graduated college, and I was in no place to pass up free food, so cabbage and ground beef it was!)

Mom’s diet had to change after her surgery if she wanted to keep off the weight, just like with any type of diet, but this one has been a lot more restrictive. No more caffeine for Mama, so we started collecting all types of new teas to try at home. She is mindful of how much protein she eats, so we started finding all sorts of unique snacks and recipes to get extra protein in. Shout-out to one of our favorite on-the-go snacks: Sargento’s Cheese and Nuts pack!

Eventually our pantry was filled with very nutritious options, and all of the chips, cookies, and sugary snacks were out. This really helped in making healthier decisions because the healthy options far outweighed the bad. One tip I will share is to not throw all your junk food out and fill it with new snacks in one grocery trip! Take time trying new foods and snacks to find what you like, otherwise you’ll be left with nothing familiar as you transition to a healthier diet and probably more likely to run to the corner store or grabbing some drive through grub. Trust me, there’s nothing worse than feeling hungry and not recognizing a single snack in your pantry, or worse: hating every snack!

Eventually we found the snacks we liked that were also better choices, and that ultimately was a huge help in making healthier decisions. When you don’t have junk food around, you won’t eat it. When you venture out of your comfort zone and try new foods, you’ll find new and nutritious meals to eat in the future!

My dad’s diet was big on fresh fruits, vegetables, and meat, and that was about it. He was given some really unique recipes however, so we began trying out new recipes that incorporated all of these things in. We started cooking dishes in water instead of oil, sautéing our veggies in apple cider vinegar, and avoiding processed foods entirely.

Best recipe we got from this diet, though: Dirty Texas Rice, cooked with lean ground beef, finely chopped cabbage and chili powder with some hot sauce!

All of these things really contributed to my weight loss journey. I made working out a priority in my life, but it was important that I ate healthy too. I think the biggest part has been that I made these changes to my overall lifestyle. I can’t remember the last time my family had pork chops, pasta, mashed potatoes… all those meals that used to be the norm in our household but really weren’t the most nutritious.

Try to get every one at home involved when you are changing your diet! If you want results to last you a lifetime, you need to improve your lifestyle. Make healthier choices daily, start filling your cabinets with healthier alternatives, slowly cut out “the bad” from your kitchen, and it will not only get easier but become routine.

Out of My Comfort Zone

by: Terry Ternyila

Two years ago my husband and I had joined The Max Challenge of Old Bridge for a 10-week program. Normally this is not something I am comfortable doing but because my husband was willing to do this with me, I agreed to go. I suffer from anxiety in group situations, so having a partner helped with that feeling. I was not sure how comfortable I would be working out with other people watching, considering I am no spring chicken and it had been a good year since I had a regular exercise routine.

THE MAX Challenge is a 10-week body transformation program that is designed to make fast and lasting changes to your overall well-being through group fitness classes, motivation, and nutritional counseling.

It was very intimating at first because you can see that most of the people there have been attending these classes for a while and have become a close knit family of support. They knew all the warm-up exercises and routines, and it seemed so intimidating at first. However, we quickly learned that they all were there to help us along; the staff and other members just made you feel welcome.

They all helped us with our technique and showed us what needed to be done.   It was like a community of people who would just take the newbies under their wing and show you the ropes. It wasn’t their job, but you can see they just wanted you to succeed. They all cheered everyone on, and there was no judgement.  There were people of all ages and all fitness levels.

The coaches always provided a modification to each routine and encouraged you to do it how you needed as long as you were moving and trying. Of course we were watching all these people work out and wanted to impress them so we had pushed ourselves a little too hard. Even though everyone kept saying it’s okay to modify or do less…. let’s just say, lesson learned.  I can tell you the first day when we left, we both were pretty beat up, and the next day we both were so sore that we missed the next day class to recover. 

Over the next few weeks we saw our progress. It actually was quite impressive how in such a short amount of time the things you remember struggling with in the beginning of the class you could now do so easily. You felt your confidence grow and how strong you got for sure.  They always end the class with a plank, and yeah, the first few weeks you would struggle to keep up. But with each passing week it became easier, and we could go longer. 

By the end of our time we there we would see the “newbies” come in, and we would take them in and try to help them along. I can say it was such a wonderful environment of respect and support.  It still is a bit out of my comfort zone, but I would go again.

It really taught me that you can change your body and mind in a short amount of time.  Years ago I would have never tried anything like that. I had belonged to a gym for years but never once took any of the classes. I would just go in and work the machines and go home. But I can say that experience made me open up to different possibilities of exercise outside of my normal independent routine. You pushed yourself more, you fed off the room of support and having someone else there guiding you along the way, you got the most out of your work outs.

Step out of your comfort zone, give something new a chance. The results are worth it.

No One in the Gym Is Watching You

by: Danielle Ternyila

Let’s be real. When you’ve never stepped foot in a gym, or you just aren’t a regular [yet], it can be so intimidating! But why? The whole place is filled with mirrors because everyone is too busy looking at themselves. It’s the one place I’m sure no one is thinking about anyone else. Afterall, they are there because they want to grow! They want to get stronger. They can’t do that, and nor should you, by paying attention to every one around you.

When I joined my first gym in 2016, I was so nervous that everyone was watching me and judging my lack of coordination. It was nerve wracking to try something new because I has no idea what I was doing, and so I was sure everyone around me would know it. Forget the weights section! It was filled with muscle and men, all of which I was not.

The truth is, no one is watching you. No one is paying attention to how many or how little reps you do, they’re not focused on your form and wondering why you’re even there. I only ever had one person approach me in the gym about a workout I was doing, and it was someone who had no idea how to use the machine I was using. She asked me how!

It isn’t easy to stop caring what others think, but the gym is the last place anyone will pay attention to you. Everyone around you paid money to be there. They carved out time to be there from their day doing who knows what, and they are there to focus on themselves and their growth. It’s the only place I feel like no one will judge me. And if anyone should know what it’s like to start at the bottom and everything feels knew, it is everyone at the gym who did not come out of the womb doing sit-ups and hammer curls and got their start in a gym like you.

I always figured, if I’m doing something that wrong, they’d better tell me before I hurt myself and not judge me. If they’d rather laugh at me then help, I shouldn’t care what that person has to think anyway!

Make the gym your happy place. Find workouts you love. Try tons of new activities and classes until you do. Blast your music, hum to it if you want to! Don’t feel embarrassed when you make weird noises [or fall off the stairmaster]. Nike says it best; just do it!

Put yourself [your body and your health] first. Life is too short to not give it your best shot. The only one you’re cheating is yourself if you don’t.

My Weight-Loss Journey: Leggings Are Your Friend

by: Danielle Ternyila

At my biggest, I lived in leggings because I could handle going up another X better than a whole jean size. The last pair of jeans I had been able to fit into before then was size 18, so leggings became my best friend, being more giving and understanding of my body. Now I realize leggings played an even bigger role in my actual weight loss journey, rather than just being my scape goat to real pants. And they’re worth investing in, even early in your weight loss journey!

When I made the decision to take back my health, of course I did not want to spend money on the cutest workout clothes because the goal was to never fit in those sizes again! However, I did it anyway. At first, I just needed to actually own a sports bra and tank, but once I started losing weight, the cute clothes became essential to my weight loss journey.

The confidence I felt when I got a new outfit was sometimes exactly what I needed to keep my momentum going! I was able to lose 60 lbs in a year, and I went through so many outfits during that journey that I now have the hardest time parting ways with today. These outfits helped push me through my hardest workouts, they motivated me every time I wanted to quit, and they *literally* supported me through my whole journey [sports bras are the real MVPs!]. As I continued to size down and lose the weight, I made sure to keep at least 2 outfits in the closet that I felt my most confident in.

Leggings have always had my back, and I can’t stress enough how much you can conquer when you are at your most confident! The cuter you dress when you work out, the better you’ll feel and harder you’ll work. Just fact!!

I did spend a lot of money throughout the journey, even though I was mostly splurging on clearance finds in JcPenney’s, Target, and the outlets for my confidence boost. At the same time I was going through this journey in 2017, Zyia Active was being founded, and little did I know I’d later become an Independent Rep after learning what this company is about and why it’s activewear for women of any body type! They aim to inspire and uplift through the confidence anyone can feel in these clothes.

If I could go back and change anything in my journey, I would have filled my closet with this brand instead! Even though the clothing is pricier than my bargain discounts, I am finally wearing quality clothing designed with form and function in mind, still cheaper than the high-end activewear most seek. That said, I’m spending a lot less in the long-run. My old leggings lasted a few months, max, before meeting their demise; they never lasted, whether they faded fast, stretched out, or got holes!

The leggings in my activewear boutique still look brand new, even my oldest pair (2 years old!). I’ve seen ones from friends and other reps that have lasted far longer.

As a Zyia Active Independent Rep, I can help you get incredible deals, including free and half-priced! Just let me know you want more information.

If you’re thinking this clothing brand is “not made for you” because of your size, shape or even age, you’re wrong! There is literally something for every body, and there are tons of options: colors, styles, patterns, lengths, and of course sizes XXS to XXXXL! The reason I love this company so much and wish I had known about it when I was just starting my weight loss journey is that they truly cater to all, and no body is left out!

With all of these different styles, fits, and lengths, there are so many options that I could have snagged during my weight loss journey, and because the fabrics incorporate four-way stretch, these clothes move with you and your body; you can rely on them to stay put during every workout, even when you start losing weight. You’ll still be able to trust this gear to stay up through all your favorite activities until you’re down a few sizes and ready to splurge again. I’m down to size 4, but I can rock my Zyia all the way up to size 10-12! I would still workout in a 14-16 too because even today they still stay put and look great. These leggings are your friend. See below!

Never underestimate the power of a good outfit on a bad day.

Ask me how you can save money with me in my royalty program as you conquer your own weight-loss journey so you can rock your most confident looks along the way! I’m so proud of and inspired by any one who takes on the challenge of regaining their health, and I want you to look your best doing it!

If you’re looking to start your weight loss journey and need more inspiration, and maybe something more than just cute clothes, check out the empowerment group on Facebook to keep you going! Monthly challenges, health tips, a supportive community, and more! We are all cheering each other on. Join our private community: Live Like a Queen Empowerment!

What inspires you and keeps you moving? Do you have a favorite outfit for when you do work out or have to push yourself?

Ask me how to get the best deals on leggings and more!