New Year, New Habits

Everyone is in full NEW YEAR, NEW YOU mode and while I do love a brand new year I am struggling with the new YOU part. When I was personal training, January was always a sudden influx of new clients coming in wanting to be all gung-ho with their resolutions only to fizzle out by Superbowl Sunday.

Committing to a NEW YOU is a major undertaking and most who attempt will fail - this isn’t to be a buzzkill, but the honest reality. My suggestion is to break up with your old, bad habits. You aren’t broken or need fixed, instead you need to break up with your old ways. Our habits are what ultimately define us.

The habit of sleeping in because we stayed up too late watching tv, the habit of skipping a workout because the weather is bad or the habit of choosing a unhealthy carryout because you don’t feel like cooking something healthy.

All of these things are habits that we’ve fall victim too and don’t be too hard on yourself - it’s super easy to do and we all at one point of the year fall into a bad habit and/our routine. (keep reading for my tips on how to breakup with your bad habits)

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If you want to uncover a NEW YOU, you need to form NEW HABITS.

How does someone do this? You crowd out the bad habits and start with easy BETTER habits.

  • Does your barista know you by your car? - Dust off your coffee pot and make a to-go coffee at home (saving your time, calories, and money)

  • Instead of eating lunch out every day - Brown Bag It Instead

  • Not eating enough veggies - Give smoothies a try to pack in veggies (download the smoothie lovers guide here)

  • Keep skipping your workouts - Maybe it’s time to find a new type of workout or an accountability buddy to re-spark your love for moving your booty!

  • Claiming you don’t have enough time, but you’ve seen the latest episode of GOT, Outlander, FBI, all three Chicago’s (Med, Fire, PD), and Big Bang from this week?

    • You, my friend, have time to meal prep, workout, read personal development, get a handle on your budget, clean your house, take the dog for a walk, and still be able to catch up one of the episodes above. Trust me… I know this one first hand!

My point to all of this is… we fall into a pattern of bad habits because life gets in the way, it’s human nature and it can be corrected. Start with simple basic changes and you will begin to crowd out a handful of bad habits in no time.

Remember, you don’t need a brand new YOU, instead focus on creating an improved YOU!


My first time speaking was a disaster

Not everything goes to plan.

Three (or maybe four) years ago, I completed an application to speak at a photography retreat in Rhode Island and was shocked & honored when I was picked to speak. I spent weeks prepping for the event and closer to the date my nerves were at an all time high. In fact, I sort of felt like an imposter.

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Self doubt and negative self talk flooded over me - I even left the welcome party early to go back and rework my entire presentation. My presentation was on the second day of the retreat and as I was listening to other presenters I felt so unworthy of being there. I had about two hours to share my presentation and flew through what I had prepared and was left there standing twiddling my thumbs for what felt like a lifetime.

Several people loved what I had to share and others hated it. A survey landed in my inbox a few weeks after the retreat confirming the feels I had already been feeling. While the speaking event might have been a disaster - it was also a major industry milestone for me. I stretched well beyond my comfort zone. I spoke from the heart and shared my story - the struggles, the wins, the failures and no one could take that from me.

We live in a time where everyone shows their highlight reel, but so few are willing to share the bad days, the failures, and the things that didn’t go as planned. I don’t know if I will ever stand on a stage again, but if I do… I promise to bare my heart & soul once again and if it changes one life… than I did my job.

LESSON LEARNED: TRADING SERVICES FOR EXPOSURE

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If I've learned one thing in 15 years of being a business owner is that trading your services for exposure rarely pays off.  I have never gained the promised exposure by giving away my services in trade.  

Remember you are not only giving your time and talent for the actual event or project but also lead time and post-production time.  You'll have logistic emails and calls to make with deadlines to meet.  Again, if you are trading services for exposure you better make sure that the entire "deal" is ironed out and in a contractual form as a handshake isn't good enough. 

Keep this in mind when being asked to donate items for charity auctions, fundraisers, etc.  Most often those who win these actions or fundraisers aren't your ideal clients or fail to redeem the offer.

Okay, I know I sound like Debbie-Downer so let me follow up with this... if you feel called to donate your time, talent or products, do it out of the goodness of your heart with no expectation for exposure.  For example years ago, I donated my time to Help Portrait and felt far more fulfilled creating and providing those who attended the event with images than giving away a gift certificate to never be used.

What about collaborations with other industry people? 

I think collaborations are a fabulous way to network and meet other like minded creatives and business owners.  Again, make sure that all of the details are ironed out as to who is expected to provide what for the project and that realistic deadlines are created for everyone.  

 

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IF THE FIRST VERSION IS PERFECT, YOU WAITED TOO LONG

CALLING ALL PERFECTIONIST - THIS ONE IS FOR YOU!

I too am a seeking of perfection - I try to be chill & go with the flow in my personal life, but when it comes to business I remain as poised and polished as possible.  In my ever growing quest for personal growth, I had listened to a podcast about taking messy action - hearing those words actually made me break out into a small sweat.  

My planners have planners - I have order and organization - I lay up at night over-thinking every design, contract, order, upcoming photo shoot - I strive for perfection.  

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So as I am listening to this podcast the podcaster says "If the first version is perfect, you waited too long." SUCKER PUNCH!  OMG - this is so true!  How many times have you wanted to share a concept, idea, or design but sit on it because in your mind it was not perfect? 

Hands up!  I know you are trying to hide, but it's okay to strive for perfection but get messy along the way. You' re a Creative, damn it!  It's like a free pass to be messy, take risks, and go against the grain. 

 

WANNA KNOW HOW I AM TAKING MESSY ACTION?

I started this site without direction, design, or a perfect plan of how I want the navigation to flow or the content that I share.  Something bigger than me is calling me to put these thoughts into posts and eventually vlogs or a podcast.  I don't know how to edit audio or really how to vlog - but that's part of the journey to get messy and to look back someday and say... Damn, that first version of what I created sucked in comparison to what I am creating now.

A CHALLENGE TO YOU!

I'd love for you to take messy action in your business.  Publish, print, release, share whatever it is you have been working on that isn't deemed perfect in your eyes.  Share it on your Facebook and Instagram accounts, send out a newsletter to your life, publish a vlog or podcast episode that you've been feeling called to share even if it won't get viewed or cause a little controversy.  

 

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BEING A BUSINESS OWNER ISN'T ALWAYS GLAMOROUS

One of the biggest misconceptions about business owners is that life is glamorous.  It's not. Being a business owner requires tough skin, a relentless work ethic, serious mindset and personal development work mixed with a lot of patience. 

If for one second you think that jumping ship from your 9 to 5 into being your own boss is popping bottles, private jets, and rubbing elbows with the who's who - think again. 

The life of a business owner might appear to be glamorous, but the days can be long, lonely and a never-ending roller coaster.  That's the vast majority of days aren't glamorous - however, social media can paint a different picture showing a highlight reel instead of the real-time messy parts. 

Personally, I'm in the middle of two massive business launches; the relaunch of AKP and the official launch of Coaching for Creatives (this website).  My days are spent rebuilding my photography business to fuel my creative soul while pouring my heart into Coaching for Creatives because I feel called by something greater to share the messy behind-the-scenes truths of what it takes to blend being in business for yourself and taking care of yourself as a business owner. 

Truth be told, this shit is messy and if you read my daily journal you'd see the daily struggle. So why am I sharing this?  Because when I started out in the photography industry in 2003 - I was blinded by the idea of setting my own schedule, jet-setting around the world and rubbing elbows with the who's who.  The reality was excessive weight gain (60 pounds to be exact), an almost broken marriage, no self-care to speak of, and no private jets or popping bottles. 

I spent countless hours learning to build my own websites, editing photos, traveling 4+ hours to photograph engagement photos in the middle of a heatwave for as a complimentary service, I started my wedding day photography coverage when the first bobby pin went in the air and until the final song played at the reception. 

No college class or Creative Live can prepare you for what it takes to be in business for yourself.  You are going to make mistakes, miss deadlines, let people down, let yourself down, fall off the healthy eating wagon, and experience several sleepless nights in a row.  Mixed with the non-glamourous will be the days you are featured in a magazine or blog article, are asked to speak at a workshop or convention, hit 1k on Instagram, or actually shower before 3pm. 

Just know that you aren't alone in the journey - any creative who has started their own business has felt the ups and downs you might be experiencing or will experience in the future.  

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GET OUT OF YOUR OWN DAMN WAY

Truth be told, I censor the shit out of myself. I censor my thoughts, feelings, goals, and dreams on a daily basis. Not because I am worried about excelling beyond my peer group - that's a real thing... some people become worried that they can't level up if those around them can't as well. I am not one of those people instead I censor myself for the fear of this thing called social media and the views other's have toward me. Yep, there I said it. I allowed myself to get "STUCK" for fear of what a keyboard warrior that I've never met and might not ever meet might say about me in the comments of my social media in the middle of the night.

DAMN, it feels good to let this out.

In all seriousness - it's really easy to get in your own way on the path to improved health & wellness along with business growth. We are "marketed to", I mean distracted by fad diets, workout trends, and ways to outsource to make our lives better on a daily basis. We use these distraction techniques as a way to avoid taking action - we research, pin, read reviews, and google until our fingers bleed and still fail to take action three months later. Imagine how slamming your body would be if you would have gotten off your computer and got your ass moving three months ago? Or how organized your house would be, how many books you'd read or how you'd have the promotion or the dream job if you took messy action and went for it.

It's time to get out of YOUR OWN DAMN WAY!

This weekend while camping I cracked open the spine of Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis and let me get really real for a second. I was 6 pages when in slammed the book shut and decided to blow through my data and stream social media.

Why...

...because something she said hit me deep in the heart. To paraphrase she writes how we are so unwilling to break commitments to everyone else, but we break commitments with ourselves as easily as we breathe.

I am content as all hell to cancel on myself yet, when it comes to answering an email, text, group chat, or showing up for everyone else I am 15-minutes early.

Want the secret sauce on how to overcome standing in your own way?

Lace up your sneakers and go for a walk, blow the dust off your workout dvd's and hit play, actually use your gym membership for a change, or make one of the hundred HEALTHY recipes you've pinned. Ask your boss for a meeting to discuss the future of your career, send your resume to that dream job that is scaring the shit out of you, or hit publish on a blog that inspires the hell out of you.  

That's all it takes... I'm not asking you to run a marathon, take first place at the Crossfit Games become the next Gordon Ramsey or Ansel Adams - instead... I am asking you to get out of your own damn way and take action for yourself.

Let me know in the comments below how you plan to take action this week and I'll be watching!

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COACHING FOR CREATIVES

Grab a coffee, green juice, or tall glass of water and get comfy.  If you aren't a fellow creative you might still find interest in what I am about to share. 

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Allow me to start off by saying I am a multi-passionate and potentially serial entrepreneur.  I love owning businesses, creating business + marketing plans, and working with clients so this new venture isn't as much of a stretch as it might seem to those of you who do not know me personally. 

Back in 2013, I hit rock bottom - while my photography business was booming with 30+ weddings a year and 60+ high school senior clients on paper everything looked amazing - however, I was struggling inside.  My weight was OUT OF CONTROL, I struggled to sleep and couldn't seem to get ahead of my to-do list. Working out was a long wedding day or photo shoot.  As my business expanded so did my waistline.

Let me be crystal clear... these were choices I was making with how I was running my business. 

I remember the night that I had the biggest meltdown of my life, I was surrounded in clothes that didn't fit and I could no longer mask my weight gain with killer shoes or a flashy handbag.  I needed help - A few weeks later I took my 200+ self to meet with a nutrition coach and began changing my life - one bite and step at a time. 

By enrolling in a 12-week nutrition program I had to show up for myself - by changing my diet (saying goodbye to excessive sugar, soda, and carbs) and moving more than to greet FedEx when I had a delivery.  At the end of the 12-weeks, I had lost 20 pounds and took back control of my business by establishing boundaries, work hours, and saying no to projects that simply didn't align with me. 

After sharing my successes and nudges from the universe, I decided to go back to school to become a Holistic Health Coach and eventually a personal trainer.  As I continued to educate myself and transform I would go on to lose 60 pounds and dramatically change the relationship I had with my business, food, movement, and life. 

What I didn't expect was the impact that my journey would have on my fellow photography and creative friends and even a few clients.   

Which leads to this BIG, SCARY, POOP MY PANTS ANNOUNCEMENT!  

I am officially offering Coaching for Creatives!

 

I am beyond excited and inspired to coach creative business owners who juggle so many projects, tasks, events, deadlines and everything in between on a daily basis yet can't seem to find the time or support to put themselves first.  

What does this mean for my new studio, current and future photography clients? Nothing is changing, I am still photographing clients (new and former), but am adding support to my fellow industry members so they don't fall into the same pitfalls I did.  

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HOW MY PHOTOGRAPHY BUSINESS LED ME TO THE INSTITUTE FOR INTEGRATIVE NUTRITION

//MY STORY//

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For as many years as I can remember, I dreamed of being a professional photographer.  I was glued to behind the scenes videos of photo shoots, soaking in beautiful imagery in fashion magazines and falling in love with the process of printing my own work.  I wanted nothing more to become a professional photographer. What I didn't account for was how following my creative heart would end up causing me an excessive weight gain and loss of one’s self.

In complete transparency, my photography business wasn’t the only factor in my weight gain and downward spiral, but it played a greater role than I realized. My lack of a healthy lifestyle started in college like it does for most.  It's the first time of being on my own - making my own eating decisions and finding other distractions that kept me from being active. Like most college kids I ran on caffeine and poor decision making when it came to food which would carry out into my early years of adulthood.  This "lifestyle" only continued to become increasingly poor when I returned home from college and began building a photography business.  I poured my heart and soul into my business and let my health fall to the back burner. As my business gained traction and success the scale increased until I hit rock bottom on the floor of our closet. Tired, burnt out, overworked and at my heaviest weight of all time - I had a "Come to Jesus" moment and knew that I couldn't continue this way of life.  

True to form, I attempted fad-diet after fad diet and even thought that meal skipping would work. It wasn't until I had an honest heart to heart with myself that I reached out for help and began a 12-week clean eating program with the help of a coach.  In those 12-weeks I transformed every aspect of my life starting by adding my name to the ever growing daily to-do list. On the surface, this appears selfish, but putting myself first allowed me to serve my clients, family and friends better because I was feeling fulfilled.  At the end of the 12-weeks I lost 20 pounds and found an incredibly strong love for health and wellness.

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//STUDYING AT THE INSTITUTE FOR INTEGRATIVE NUTRITION//

When the 12-week program wrapped up, I quickly noticed a new found love for health and wellness and I was hungry to learn more.  A crazy chain of events leads me to enroll in a year-long holistic health coaching program with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN).  Attending IIN was the perfect program for me as I was still running my photography business and needed to attend classes around my schedule. 

Attending IIN, pushed me to question how I approached my own health and wellness as well as how I help my clients approach their health and wellness.  It’s not about a one-size-fits-all lifestyle and I truly learned how to look beyond food and movement to connect the dots with other areas of my life that were causing discord which affected my weight, lack of energy and struggle for balance. I was able to learn over 100 different dietary theories that pushed me to think differently and beyond fad diets or the diets that are pushed out by main-stream media.  Several modules encouraged you to examine your relationship with personal development, self-care, spirituality, relationships and career all of which I pushed to the back burner when building my photography business.   

 

//How IIN Works//

The set-up for attending IIN is pretty genius.  With the ability to log-on and attend class at any time of the day you are never behind. A new module is presented weekly and includes classes on dietary theories, methods of movement, how to coach your clients and business development.  When I attended IIN in 2012, we attended coaching calls with a moderator to help keep us on track and coached us to be the best coach we could be.

 

//WHO IS IIN FOR?//

I truly believe that anyone can benefit from IIN if you have an interest in health and wellness.  For me, I was curious about having a better understanding of how my mind, body, and spirit played into my relationship with food and movement.  Attending IIN pushed me to reconnect with the areas of my life that deeply desired to be nourished and in turn, helped me overcome my weight challenges which I am happy to say I am 60 pounds lighter! Plus, I am able to use the coaching skills I learned in my practice and also within my photography business. 

 

//WHAT ABOUT A CAREER AS A HEALTH COACH?//

Attending IIN is the first step if you want to pursue a career as a health coach, but it doesn’t guarantee you’ll come out with a thriving practice.  That my friend is on you! This isn’t to scare you, but the direction you take your coaching business will be based on your desires upon graduation.  I have friends who have written books, incorporated health coaching into their yoga practice or found that coaching has helped them with the loss of a loved one and is now providing grief counseling through health and wellness.  

Personally, I used my holistic health coaching certification as a starting point to then become a personal trainer and blogger.  Honestly, the career possibilities are endless - it simply comes down to how much work you want to put into making your dreams a reality.

Still on the fence about attending IIN?  I’d happily set aside a few minutes to chat with you to answer any questions you may have. Complete the form below and we can start a conversation.

 

I hope my review on IIN help provides a bit of clarity around the program - Feel free to click one of the links below to learn more about the program, sample a class or download a free e-book!  

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