c'est moi.

c'est moi.


Come sit down beside me with a dollar and a dime, we'll drink away our fortunes, here's to the meantime. -Grace Potter





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just believe.

It seems too often that we want to make a positive change in our life, but can't seem to actually get around to doing it. We talk about it, write about it, and even take steps in the right direction. Yet most of the time, we are caught "talking the talk," but not actually "walking the walk." Verbalizing we believe in something, verses actually believing in it are two wildly different ideas. Sure, we think we deserve more in life; to live a healthier lifestyle, to have stronger relationships, to live with passion, to chase our dreams, to never settle for less than we deserve. The problem comes when it's time to actually internalize these feats, and chase them. What we all need to start focusing on is the countless capabilities we all possess. We can achieve anything we set our minds to in life. It won't always be easy, and it won't always come without failure, but with constant committed action we can get there.

I recently had the opportunity to share a conversation with someone who decided to take actual committed action towards improving her life. She knew she had fallen into the trap of settling for less than she deserved, and finally decided to not just tell herself "I deserve better," but believe it and take action. It inspired and touched me in a huge way! Whether the change is big or small, easy or difficult, it is still something to be most proud of when all is said and done. The hurt, the time, the effort- all will be worth it in the long run.

We can probably all sit here today and pinpoint several aspects of our lives that are in dire need of improvement. Are you actually committing yourself to that belief and making a plan to actually change it? Or are you guilty of just saying, but not doing? Asking yourself these sorts of questions is the first step towards positive change in your life. The fact that you are thinking, writing, or verbalizing your unhappiness or disappointment in how something in your life is going is a major first step. The next task is asking yourself how exactly you will go about living differently; for the better. Will you get a gym membership? Talk to a professor? Apply for a new job? Have a conversation with your significant other? Talk to a financial adviser? Take time away? Once you refocus your energy from helpless and complacent, to committed and determined, you can move mountains. Life is a matter of perspective. Use that mind for all it's potential- in strong, focused, and enormous ways. Your true capability cannot be reached until you actually believe in yourself. Believe it.


hello again!

I was extremely fortunate in that I was able to take last week off from work! It was greatly overdue and a very important step in getting myself back on the right track- I had some great solo time to rest my mind, body, and soul. I decided to take a bit of a technology detox as well, which you can read about here. That being said, I'm back in the office today trying to catch up on a weeks worth of work, but I have some great posts for you coming this week! Bear with me as I get back into the swing of things. Happy Monday! Start your week off by creating a list of goals you want to accomplish by the end of 2011. With just 33 days to go, it's time to really make a commitment to achieving those personal feats!


songs to live by.

It's My Life- Bon Jovi.


"money in the bank."

I remember so vividly cross country running seasons my junior and senior year of High School. Long runs, short runs, umpteen practices, sprinting, calisthenics, hill runs, stretching, warm ups, cool downs, pre race routine, team dinners, personal records, and team victories. I still can recall the race day nerves, the pressure, and finally the shotgun telling you to run your heart out. And I did run my heart out many, many times. Pushing myself to personal limits, but knowing that the pain would be temporary and worth it in the long run- literally.

Once a week we had a hill training day. Our coaches would run with us to the bottom of this insane hill about a half a mile from our high school and we'd run up and down it for what seemed like hours. And when our team got to our final couple repetitions, and we were exhausted, sweating, and felt as if our legs had 50 pound rocks tied to them, my coach would always say "This is money in the bank." And what he meant was that our hard work now, would essentially be "stored" away until race day, having done all those brutal workouts, would be what propelled us across that finish line in flying colors. And as much as we'd roll our eyes at him, I realized come race day how right the man was. As much as some of our practices seemed absurd and torturous, come race day we never regretted all that pain our coaches put us through. It was that pain that made us each better runners and an altogether stronger team.

I still remember those seasons like it was just yesterday. We'd leave the locker room and run to the bottom of that big old hill; and I'd look up to the top and know what the next hour had in store for me. I'd cringe and curse through the whole thing, but when it would end, I'd celebrate it like I had just survived a natural disaster.

My coach may have been referring to stocking up on solid training days when he said that we were putting money in the bank, but the saying reaches far beyond hills, 3.1 mile race day courses, and our running shoes. The concept of "saving" applies to all facets of life. We set goals and work hard now so that one day we can reap the benefits of our immense efforts. Whether it's at work, in the classroom, at the gym, in our relationships, or on the field, to truly be as successful as we are capable of, we will have to push ourselves. We will have to take the sometimes painful steps necessary to meet the end goal. And you can guarantee some of those steps are going to be the hardest ones you've ever taken. Yet it's taking each of those steps that will lead you to victory. So the next time you are about to skip a class, slack off at work, procrastinate, half-ass a workout, become complacent, lazy, or settle for 'average' in life, remember what my coach said. Work hard now and you will reap the benefits of doing so later. It may not be as crystal clear as how a training run will directly affect your performance on race day, but life has a way of rewarding us for our hard work in strange ways. It's called deferred gratification. With a lot of hard work and a little bit of patience, you will succeed in reaching all your dreams.


tis the season.

It's that time of the year- Christmas music, reindeer games, Tom the turkey, food overload, warm beverages, ornaments, black friday, gifts, gifts, and more gifts. I sat down to my computer today and began to put together my yearly Christmas list; it filled up with the typical gift cards, running and golf gear, jewelry, shoes, clothes, and sports tickets- it's always the same. As my word document flooded over to a second page, I stopped a moment to really consider what my favorite part of the holiday season was. It's not about opening my gifts or showing off my new belongings, like it was when I was a kid or teenager. No- this year it's all about giving. How great does it feel when you spot the perfect gift for someone you care about? Whether it's the new crafty decoration for mom, grilling gadget for dad, gag gift for brother, sassy and fun gift for the BFF, or the absolutely adorable gift for your significant other, deriving that sense of pure and utter joy isn't hard to come by. And what's even better than buying the perfect gift is personally creating the perfect gift. My favorite gifts (both given and received) have been handmade- handwritten letters, photographs, or poems. Those are the ones that your loved ones hold nearest and dearest. My mom has a box of all of the notes I've written her for her birthday or Christmas, and they melt her heart every time she reads them. When I hear how much of an impact something I've given someone has had on them, there is such an inner peace, happiness, and satisfaction. This holiday season, we should all remember the real meaning of Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, or whatever it is you partake in personally. It's not about what insanely expensive gift you give or receive, it's about creating meaningful memories and giving thanks for all the luxuries you have in life. I urge you to donate some time or resources just once between now and the New Year to someone in need. If you are fortunate enough to be reading this online post right now, you are luckier than 70% of the world's population who don't have access to the internet. If 70% don't have access to the internet, can you imagine how many don't have access to daily meals, clean drinking water, or a place to call home? Let this be your daily reminder to give thanks for every blessing you receive, and to focus on deriving your happiness on giving rather than receiving.


risky business.

It's no big secret that this small town Vermont girl doesn't have much of a "live on the edge" personality. I've never been skydiving, ridden a mechanical bull, gone para-sailing, done donuts in my car, smoked a cigarette, had a one-night stand, or experimented with drugs. I've never been on a blind date, shoplifted, not studied for an exam, dropped out of school, traveled a long distance alone, or gambled. These are the types of items that you will find on any standard bucket list of risky activities.

The real risk takers in life tend to live by mantras like, "I can sleep when I'm dead," or "Life's too short not to try everything once." At the other end of the spectrum, you'll find the people who may live by the words, "Life is precious and fragile," or "I have too much to lose." Fear not though, because somewhere in the middle, there is a perfect balance.
My mother recently picked up some handcrafted coffee mugs that were engraved with the following quote: "Continue your journey beyond the things you already know, as new opportunities are just around the bend." And how true it is- Sometimes the only way to discover your true capability is to step out of your comfort zone. New opportunities are not often handed to us, we have to work to reach them. We have to step outside of the familiar and take a leap of faith that things will work out. I am a firm believer that all things in life work out just as they are supposed to, when they are supposed to. If you live by this too, then you know that as scary as taking a new risk may be, in the end it will be worth it. You'll either absolutely excel, or it will teach you a valuable lesson about life and who you are. This may mean leaving a job you don't enjoy, leaving a relationship that you have doubts about, moving somewhere new, pursuing a new hobby, pushing yourself physically, exposing your vulnerabilities, putting yourself out there, standing up for something you believe in, or trying something you have never tried before. Follow your heart, listen to your gut, and chase your dreams. Always remember that you are capable of anything.


defining your personal success.

Amongst the hustle and bustle of daily life, a jam packed schedule, daily commitments, and the 10-15 "hats" you have to wear every single day (wife, husband, brother, mother, runner, chef, chauffeur, business man, etc.), you need to insure that you are taking some time away to reconnect with simply yourself. If the words 'privacy', 'alone time', or 'solo mission' haven't existed in your life in several weeks or months, it may be time to hit the brakes and make a personal date. Reflecting on your values, morals, and goals on a regular basis is arguably what will define how successful you will be in life. Without adequate time to figure out what you want, what makes you happy, and what you could do without, how will you expect to move forward in a positive and successful manner? As difficult as it can be make the time, you should make it your priority. Personal growth begins with a commitment to yourself that you want to live your life in the most uplifted and passionate manner as possible. And it all begins by asking yourself what does success mean to me? Success as we've come to know it in this day and age usually revolves around fancy cars, fat paychecks, a big house, happy family, and multiple degrees. These are stereotypes. Why do we try so hard to compare ourselves to society's unrealistic framework of success? Probably because we're programmed that way! We are exposed to the lifestyles of the rich and famous far too often, and in turn, internalize what success is based on what we see. Take a moment to consider what success means to you. What is it that you want to achieve in life? Setting goals for yourself is the first step to actually achieving them.

"When success is pursued as proof of your worthiness, you are giving your life and efforts over to the assessment of others...but when success is pursued as the alignment of your innermost values and your goals, it becomes the validation of your inner truth; you honor your authentic self." -Cherie Carter-Scott.


quotes to live by.


We tend to forget that happiness doesn't come as a result of getting something we don't have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.
-Frederick Keonig.


simplicity is the key to successful living.


 "A simple life has a different meaning and a different value for every person. For me, it means eliminating all but the essential, eschewing chaos for peace, and spending your time doing what’s important to you. It means getting rid of many of the things you do so you can spend time with people you love and do the things you love. It means getting rid of the clutter so you are left with only that which gives you value. However, getting to simplicity isn’t always a simple process. It’s a journey, not a destination, and it can often be a journey of two steps forward, and one backward." 
-Leo Babauta

Every couple of months, I find myself reflecting on my current life status. Am I happy? Do I feel fulfilled? Stressed? Anxious? Complacent? Desiring more? And every time, no matter how happy or unhappy I am with my relationship, friendships, job, fitness level, financial status, etc., it all comes back to one thing. I need to live more simply. As people in the year 2011, we are constantly bombarded with information via media. Commercials, billboards, news articles, the world wide web, facebook- you name it, we have access. We can gather based on this information, what sort of lives people near and far are living- the clothes they wear, their standard of living, their fitness routines, their financial status, their relationships, family lives, belongings, routines, habits. Too often, we get caught up in trying to duplicate the lives of the lavishly rich or famous, because well, they look like they are having so much fun riding in their fancy cars, wearing the latest fashions, jet setting into the sunset, and attending parties fit for a king. There is a wide spectrum, of course- Anywhere from just trying to keep up with the Jones', to honestly attempting to replicate some of the insanity we see on TV- but on a budget a thousand times smaller. So what gives?

The reality is we all need to live more simply. Credit card debt shouldn't exist in the insane ways it does today. Young girls starving themselves to look like the airbrushed photographs of their favorite actresses shouldn't exist. The notion of "needing" 15 pairs of jeans, or 45 pairs of shoes shouldn't exist. The earth's present environmental condition and resource drainage shouldn't exist. How did things get so crazy? Since when did the pressure to live our lives to a certain standard become so unbearably rigid? We spend so much time, energy, and money on things we truly don't need, despite the fact that the media tells us otherwise. As I reflect today on how I am guilty of buying, doing, and acting - in a particular manner- I ask myself how it is I can get back to the basics. So, with the world wide web at my fingertips, I came across Leo Babauta's website and his article "Simple Living Manifesto: 72 Ideas to Simplify Your Life." Here are some of my favorite of his ideas:

* * * * * * * *
Make a list of your top 4-5 important things. What’s most important to you? What do you value most? What 4-5 things do you most want to do in your life? Simplifying starts with these priorities, as you are trying to make room in your life so you have more time for these things. Evaluate your commitments. Look at everything you’ve got going on in your life. Everything, from work to home to civic to kids’ activities to hobbies to side businesses to other projects. Think about which of these really gives you value, which ones you love doing. Which of these are in line with the 4-5 most important things you listed above? Drop those that aren’t in line with those things. Evaluate your time. How do you spend your day? What things do you do, from the time you wake up to the time you go to sleep? Make a list, and evaluate whether they’re in line with your priorities. If not, eliminate the things that aren’t, and focus on what’s important. Redesign your day. Learn to say no. This is actually one of the key habits for those trying to simplify their lives. If you can’t say no, you will take on too much. Limit your communications. Our lives these days are filled with a vast flow of communications: email, IM, cell phones, paper mail, Skype, Twitter, forums, and more. It can take up your whole day if you let it. Instead, put a limit on your communications: only do email at certain times of the day, for a certain number of minutes (I recommend twice a day, but do what works for you). Only do IM once a day, for a limited amount of time. Limit phone calls to certain times too. Same with any other communications. Set a schedule and stick to it. Limit your media consumption. This tip won’t be for everyone, so if media consumption is important to you, please skip it (as with any of the other tips). However, I believe that the media in our lives — TV, radio, Internet, magazines, etc. — can come to dominate our lives. Don’t let it. Simplify your life and your information consumption by limiting it. Try a media fast. Purge your stuff. If you can devote a weekend to purging the stuff you don’t want, it feels seriously terrific. Get boxes and trash bags for the stuff you want to donate or toss.  Create a simplicity statement. What do you want your simple life to look like? Write it out. Limit your buying habits. If you are a slave to materialism and consumerism, there are ways to escape it. I was there, and although I haven’t escaped these things entirely, I feel much freer of it all. If you can escape materialism, you can get into the habit of buying less. And that will mean less stuff, less spending, less freneticism. Free up time. Find ways to free up time for the important stuff. That means eliminating the stuff you don’t like, cutting back on time wasters, and making room for what you want to do. Do what you love. Once you’ve freed up some time, be sure to spend that extra time doing things you love. Go back to your list of 4-5 important things. Do those, and nothing else. Spend time with people you love. Again, the list of 4-5 important things probably contains some of the people you love (if not, you may want to re-evaluate). Whether those people are a spouse, a partner, children, parents, other family, best friends, or whoever, find time to do things with them, talk to them, be intimate with them (not necessarily in sexual ways). Spend time alone. Free up time for yourself — to spend in solitude. Alone time is good for you, although some people aren’t comfortable with it. It could take practice getting used to the quiet, and making room for your inner voice. It sounds new-agey, I know, but it’s extremely calming. And this quiet is necessary for finding out what’s important to you. Eat slowly. If you cram your food down your throat, you are not only missing out on the great taste of the food, you are not eating healthy. Slow down to lose weight, improve digestion, and enjoy life more. Drive slowly. Most people rush through traffic, honking and getting angry and frustrated and stressed out. And endangering themselves and others in the meantime. Driving slower is not only safer, but it is better on your fuel bill, and can be incredibly peaceful. Give it a try. Be present. These two words can make a huge difference in simplifying your life. Living here and now, in the moment, keeps you aware of life, of what is going on around you and within you. It does wonders for your sanity. Establish routines. The key to keeping your life simple is to create simple routines. Learn to live frugally. Living frugally means buying less, wanting less, and leaving less of a footprint on the earth. It’s directly related to simplicity.  Make your house minimalist. A minimalist house has what is necessary, and not much else. It’s also extremely peaceful (not to mention easy to clean). Learn what “enough” is. Our materialistic society today is about getting more and more, with no end in sight. Sure, you can get the latest gadget, and more clothes and shoes. More stuff. But when will you have enough? Most people don’t know, and thus they keep buying more. It’s a neverending cycle. Get off the cycle by figuring out how much is enough. And then stop when you get there. Eat healthy. It might not be obvious how eating healthy relates to simplicity, but think about the opposite: if you eat fatty, greasy, salty, sugary, fried foods all the time, you are sure to have higher medical needs over the long term. We could be talking years from now, but imagine frequent doctor visits, hospitalization, going to the pharmacist, getting therapy, having surgery, taking insulin shots … you get the idea. Being unhealthy is complicated. Eating healthy simplifies all of that greatly, over the long term. Exercise.This goes along the same lines as eating healthy, as it simplifies your life in the long run, but it goes even further: exercise helps burn off stress and makes you feel better. It’s great. Find inner simplicity. I’m not much of a spiritual person, but I have found that spending a little time with my inner self creates a peaceful simplicity rather than a chaotic confusion. This could be time praying or communing with God, or time spent meditating or journaling or getting to know yourself, or time spent in nature. However you do it, working on your inner self is worth the time. Learn to decompress from stress. Every life is filled with stress — no matter how much you simplify your life, you’ll still have stress (except in the case of the ultimate simplifier, death). So after you go through stress, find ways to decompress. Reduce your consumption of advertising. Advertising makes us want things. That’s what it’s designed to do, and it works. Find ways to reduce your exposure of advertising, whether that’s in print, online, broadcast, or elsewhere. You’ll want much less. Live life more deliberately. Do every task slowly, with ease, paying full attention to what you’re doing. Learn to do nothing. Doing nothing can be an art form, and it should be a part of every life. Go for quality, not quantity. Try not to have a ton of stuff in your life … instead, have just a few possessions, but ones that you really love, and that will last for a long time. Simplify your budget. Many people skip budgeting (which is very important) because it’s too hard or too complicated.

Always ask: Will this simplify my life? If the answer is no, reconsider.


every 24 hours.

As much as it may not feel like every day is the opportunity to make a fresh start- it truly is. We have the luxury of living our lives in increments of 24 hours. The sun sets at night, laying to rest all the hardships and pain of the day. We fall asleep with hope that tomorrow will be even better than yesterday. The sun rises every morning, shining down on the new opportunities of today- which most of us find difficult to see. Somehow we fight hard internal battles as we try to let go of yesterday and move on to the present moment. We struggle to lay to rest the hurt of the past, and struggle to wake up feeling that inspired. We hold onto things for too long. We let them consume us and hang over our heads for days on end. We can't let go. Yet, we've all heard the sayings about the importance of laying the past to rest and looking instead to the future; for we cannot commit ourselves to making the best of today if we let the past dictate our future happiness. We all make mistakes. We all struggle. We all hurt. It's the way of life. It's those experiences that shape us into the person we are today. However, that doesn't mean we should let our past wholly dictate our futures. The most powerful thing you can do for yourself is to let every day truly end when you lay your head to rest at night. Let go of the hurt and anger, and flush out the hard feelings as you close your eyes on today and prepare for whatever life will bring tomorrow. Wake up every day with a positive attitude. The attitude that "I was blessed with this new day, with this sunrise, and with the opportunity of X, Y, and Z." Every day should be treated as a luxury, and unfortunately most of us don't focus on this profound fact of life. It often takes a profound personal loss to realize just how fragile life truly is. Don't let it take a tragedy to learn the lesson that tragedy teaches. Life is short. Allow yourself to let go of the "muck", stop sweating the small stuff, and wake up each day rejuvenated by the knowledge that today, you can do anything you set your mind to.


songs to live by.

Undeniable- Mat Kearney.


kick your butt out of that rut.

15 Easy Ways to Rejuvenate your "Essence:"

1. Wear something extra "nice" on a random weekday [bring on the compliments!]
2. Have your makeup done.
3. Bake something sweet.
4. Get a spa treatment or massage.
5. Have a wine & cheese night with your friends.
6. Hike a mountain.
7. Plan a vacation or weekend away.
8. Take photographs, print, and frame. [great gift idea!]
9. Throw a "themed" get together/party.
10. Write a letter.
11. Watch your favorite childhood movie.
12. Have a good old fashioned slumber party.
13. Host a fancy cocktail party.
14. Use "Living Social" or "Group On" to find something new to try.
15. Surround yourself with people that make you laugh- laughter is the best medicine.


loving yourself.

Too many people in this world have a self-esteem problem. What happened to being happy with who you are? What happened to accepting yourself, flaws and all? What happened to embracing who you are, both inside and outside? What happened to being confident in yourself and your decisions? What happened to walking tall? What happened to believing you are worth something? Respecting yourself? Believing in yourself?

For too many of us, our positive thoughts about who we are have disappeared. We feel defeated and worthless. We inevitably all deal with bullying, hateful words, disrespect from others, "rejection," and failure at some point in our lives. For some of us, these types of things resonate with us for years and years following. We may find ourselves struggling with depression, eating disorders, thoughts of suicide, social anxiety, and shame. We may deal with intense embarrassment and refuse to ever truly put ourselves out there again, whether in the workplace, in friendships, in romantic relationships, or via social activities.

We will talk down to ourselves. We will actually begin to internalize the negative thoughts that other people have put in our head, or the thoughts we have put in there ourselves. We become angry and begin to hate ourselves for our "downfalls," and our positive outlook on life disappears.

"I'm overweight, no one will ever want to marry me."
"I'm too short, no one will ever take me seriously."
"I got fired from my job,so I'm incapable of doing anything right."
"I failed my exam even after studying 12 hours, so I'm dumb."
"I've never kissed a girl, so I'm ugly."
"I can't afford to wear designer jeans, so I won't ever be popular."
"I have acne, so no one will think I'm beautiful."

Overweight or under. Black or white. Short or tall. Poor or rich. Failed or passed. Hired or fired. Single or taken. Married or divorced.  No matter what your circumstances are in life, you are important. You are meaningful, powerful, strong, and worthy. You are beautiful, smart, and capable. Don't let your "flaws" get in the way of embracing who you are; don't let anyone tell you that you aren't worth something. Because you, my friend, are priceless. You are individual. You are unique. Every single part of you, down to the last freckle, grey hair, or pound, is important- it's what makes you, you. And you need to stop letting other people dictate who you should or shouldn't be. Just being you is the most powerful defense you have in life. There is nothing more inspirational than someone that embraces and lives their life based on who they truly are.

Although the world [and its inhabitants] can be the most hateful and angry place at times, it can also be the most bright and beautiful. Perspective dictates all. Fill your mind with positivity. Stay optimistic. Be tough. Speak to yourself and others will love and compassion. Remember that everyone [including y-o-u!] is fighting an internal or external battle that you may not know or understand. Kill only with kindness and praise. And above all, know that your daily struggles and hardships will pay off. Consider every single day as a new opportunity to push yourself to new limits and to embrace yourself and your reality.



from: support@raceit.com
to: hhutchins9@gmail.com
date: Tues, November 1, 2011
subject: Transaction Confirmation for 2012 KeyBank Vermont City Marathon

Congratulations, Holly!

You are now registered for the 24th annual KeyBank Vermont City Marathon taking place on Sunday, May 27, 2012.

Stay current with important event updates by following us on Facebook, Twitter and our blog, The RunDown.

Complete information available on our website: http://www.runvcm.org/ 

What's really hard to believe about this whole thing is that it's been over 2 years since I last competed in a foot race. I grew up running track and cross-country, and developed a love/hate relationship with running very quickly. It's just one of those things. You hate doing it, but love that endorphin high when it's all over. In October 2009, I completed my first and only half-marathon with my ex-marathoner father. It was one of the most inspiring, but humbling experiences I have ever had. People who don't run long distances think people like me are crazy. But to me, distance running is one of the most profound personal feats you can set out on. It's not even so much about the actual race day that is the real test of your resiliency and dedication. It's about the months and months of training you have to embark on in order to prepare yourself for just one single final performance. I'm ready to cross the big 26.2 off my list of life goals. I'm ready to dig deep mentally and physically over the next 207 days and do something for myself. I'm ready to test my strength, dedication, and potential. I'm ready to reach the finish line on marathon day and know that I did it. So let the training begin!


November 1, 2011

Today we welcome a brand spanking new month. Let this fresh start, this clean slate, be your motivation for the changes you've been meaning to make in your life. We often make excuses about how we'll start "tomorrow," but the reality is that today is the tomorrow we were talking about yesterday. So stop the excuses, halt the procrastination, and push forward full steam ahead on what you want to accomplish in your life.

This time of year is particularly difficult for those people looking to make changes in 2 distinct areas of life; one being in the realm of romantic relationships and the other being centered around our fitness. The holidays are quickly approaching, the colder weather setting in, and we often become complacent and unmotivated. And that, my friends, is why you need to read this post with an open and inspired mind.

The holiday season is often most centered around family. Those people in relationships will inevitably need to discuss how the holidays will be spent. Will your significant other be coming to Thanksgiving at your parents house? Will be jet across the country to spend Christmas Eve with his? Will you spend them as a couple?  Will you each continue your old traditions with just your own family? Was there a previous love interest in your life who set a precedent for how you picture the holidays being spent? Have your previous holiday experiences in regards to your significant others left you with a sour taste in your mouth? The holidays are a time where you have to share conversations with that person and determine where you are in your relationship. The more serious, the more apt you will be to invite your other half to participate in your own family traditions. What if you find yourself not on the same page as she is? Maybe you feel like it's too soon to bring him home to mom and dad. Maybe he is terrified to introduce you to his family. Regardless of the situation, it's important to go into these conversations with an open mind. Don't think that just because she isn't ready to take the plunge into sharing holidays together that she doesn't care about you. We all have experiences and values that shape the way we see this time of year and that doesn't mean differing perspectives should make or break a relationship. Take your time to truly think about how you would like this holiday season to go before approaching your other half for a conversation. Having all your thoughts straight will help you go into these sometimes tough conversations feeling confident in yourself and your ideals.

On the other hand, as with any "clean slate," use this time of year to reevaluate the relationship you are in. What could you do to improve things? What sort of expectations do you have for the relationship? What changes need to be made? What do you love about it? Push yourself and push your significant other to be the best you can be both as separate people and as one united force. If you find yourself unhappy, or needing to make some changes, don't be afraid to do so. Take responsibility for your life, your happiness, and your relationship. At the end of the day, there is no one to blame for your joy or your unhappiness but yourself. Take accountability; it's the best thing you can do for yourself and your life.

It's no secret that the holiday season brings about a lot of delicious food in heaping amounts. Think stuffing, turkey, mashed potatoes, pie, baked treats, casseroles and egg nog. The portion sizes are usually out of control, and grazing becomes an easy possibility. If you live in a location that experiences "true winter" you also run into the problem of there being less opportunities to be active outside due to inclement weather, dark mornings and evenings, and chilly temperatures. So how do you stay motivated to keep up with your physical wellness? Make goals. We often loose sight of our goals in the winter months because we pile ourselves under over sized sweaters and snow pants. The opportunities for popping on your bikini become nonexistent, which means those extra pounds can be easily concealed. Keep your gym routine, and consider adding something new to your regimen. Keeping things new and exciting will also boost your positivity. Try out skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, or ice skating. Just because you can't run a 5k outside in the snow, doesn't mean you can't hit the treadmill and work on cutting your 3.1 mile run time by 2 minutes. Signing up for a fitness class or finding a gym buddy will leave you not wanting to let anyone down by skipping out on your commitment. Above all else, remember that the holiday season will end, but your physical fitness is forever.

So here we are, November 1st, 2011. Step one is taking out that sheet of paper and making a written commitment to yourself to make this holiday season a success. Remember, you can enjoy all the festivities and still not ruin your fitness, relationship, and personal goals.