How I Chose My Word of the Year for 2019

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We are almost a week into the NEW Year and it has been interesting already! While the practice of making New Year’s Resolutions is common, that doesn’t mean that it is the most effective method of achieving your New Year’s goals. I personally haven’t really been in the practice of making New Year’s Resolutions for the last two years. When I have made New Year’s resolutions in the past, it often discourages me from trying at all if I don’t move towards them quickly enough. In the last few years I have chose a word of the year that guides all of actions towards reaching the goals I hope to accomplish in the New Year.

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My word for last year was DISCIPLINE. I chose the word Discipline because that is what was lacking from my reaching some of my goals in 2017, especially in regards to weight loss. I hired a trainer, I meal prepped more, I went to the gym more often, even when I didn’t feel like going. I also was more disciplined in putting out content for my blog (before my Nana passed away, and I started law school). After a few a set-backs, I stopped really embracing the word discipline because I was really just trying to…get over the sadness from different things that happened earlier in the year. I realized that at times I was disciplined but at other times I wasn’t. That led to me choosing my word for 2019.

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My word for 2019 is CONSISTENCY. This is what was lacking from my life last year in many areas from health + fitness to blogging to even studying for school. Similar to the reason I chose the word discipline last year, I need to consistently do things (even when I’d rather not) in order to reach the goals I’ve set out for this year. The times I did manage to remained disciplined, I lost a decent amount of weight, I got into law school, and I posted some quality content. (Read my favorite posts from last year HERE). By being consistent this year, I know I will be better off when the countdown for 2020 happens.

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This doesn’t have to be the way you choose your word. What’s important is that YOUR WORD is chosen by YOU after reflecting on your principles, values, and goals for this year. Once you do this you can take out the sense of overwhelm with long lists and just ask yourself “does this action align with my guiding word for this year or bring me closer to my goals?” If it doesn’t, you know you might need to make a better decision. It won’t be easy at first, but it might be easier for you than keeping a laundry list of resolutions.

So get out there, reflect, and choose your guiding word for 2018!

Did you have a word or two in mind when you read this? Leave your word(s) in the comments and tell me why you chose it!

How I Chose My Word for 2018

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Now that we are a week into the New Year, we should be well aware if our New Year’s Resolutions are realistic or overwhelming. Everyone is different and I understand that. I had every intention of accomplishing all of my New Year’s Resolutions last year and honestly I only accomplished 2 or 3 of them, which is still good. The one way I was able to accomplish what I did accomplish was by choosing a word of the year. While the practice of making New Year’s Resolutions is common, that doesn’t mean that it is the most effective of achieving your goals. Another method I used to reach my goals last year was choosing a word to guide me throughout my various goals of the year. No lists, no action plans, just one simple word I could keep in mind. I believe this was one thing that really helped me reach more of my goals and tasks then previous year.

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My word for last year was MANIFEST. I thought long and hard about which word I was going to choose before I made my final decision. I chose the word Manifest because I was guilty of over-planning and not taking enough actions related to my plans in 2016. I had launched my blog but wasn’t making it a priority, I had started taking classes for the LSAT but wasn’t actually sure if I wanted to take it or not, thus wasting my money, I had wanted to do a bunch of things I planned but didn’t do. The word manifest is defined on Merriam Webster’s dictionary as “to make evident or certain by showing or displaying.” I wanted to make all of my goals certain by displaying behaviors that would allow me to achieve them. So that’s what I did. I studied diligently for the LSAT and got a 160 (in the 80th percentile) which is wayyy better than I thought I’d do. I started posting on my blog more and learning skills to take it to the next level in the next year through webinars and reading articles. I fell short in the area of weight loss, but I did gain the knowledge to allow me to achieve those goals this year.  I also was able to come up with my word of this year by figuring out what I was lacking last year that made me fall short in a couple of areas.

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My word for 2018 is DISCIPLINE. After reflecting on what did and didn’t accomplish this in 2017, I realize that the thing that helped me do well on the LSAT and what I was lacking to reach the levels I wanted to for my blog and weight loss journey was all the same thing, DISCIPLINE. I can plan all I want but if I don’t have the discipline to do what I’ve planned or said I’m going to do then it won’t work out. I changed my phone screensaver to a quote I found on google that reads “discipline is doing what needs to be done, even if you don’t want to do it” and I feel that was one of my biggest weaknesses last year. I only did things when I wanted to do or when they were convenient and that is no way to take anything to the next level.

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This doesn’t have to be the way you choose your word. I was telling one of my coworkers about this practice and she chose the word Patience because she decided that would be a guiding principle that would help her the most in this upcoming year. What’s important is that YOUR WORD is chosen by YOU after reflecting on your principles, values, and goals for this year. Once you do this you can take out the sense of overwhelm with long lists and just ask yourself “does this action align with my guiding word for this year or bring me closer to my goals?” If it doesn’t, you know you might need to make a better decision. It won’t be easy at first, but it might be easier for you than keeping a laundry list of resolutions and things you don’t want to do this year.

So get out there, reflect, and choose your guiding word for 2018!

Did you have a word or two in mind when you read this? Leave your word(s) in the comments and tell me why you chose it!

 

 

My First Time Running A 5K

When I was in college one of the annual events my sorority would do was the Breast Cancer 5K walk/run and we always walked it as a group that would eventually spilt up into smaller groups due to different paces of we all walked. I always wanted to try to run it but I was never in good shape enough shape (so I thought) until maybe my last semester of college when the 5K had already passed. I also have a sorority sister who was runs 5K, 10K, Half Marathons, and everything else. Seeing her train for these and reach her goals inspired me even more and this year I added “run an entire 5K” to my bucketlist. 


My first 5K was pretty cool! The 5K I chose was the Sugar Rush. When I was picking a 5K to run in December (because the LSAT would have my attention until Dec 2nd) it was between this one and the Resolution 5K. Sugar Rush just happened to be really close to where I live and I was familiar with the location so I went with that one. I’m glad I did! While I didn’t run the whole thing (I definitely walked/jogged more than I ran), I never stopped moving and I can say that is a big step up for where I have been health and fitness wise throughout these past years. 


The Sugar Rush 5K was cute because some enthusiastic runners dressed up as different candy-themed costumes. Lowkey, they were #RunningGoals. I decided if I do this one next year I want to dress up too. The thing I loved about the pre-race and post-race is that everybody was in such a good mood. I mean I know exercise creates endorphins but still…I haven’t that many people happy all at once as far back as I can remember. I even made a new friend after the race. Eveybody was just there to handle their 5K and enjoy themselves.


I originally wanted to run with someone but I have this thing about not liking to run or hike in partners/groups when I’m out of shape. I hate feeling like people have to wait on me when I need a break. That being said, I ran it by myself. Running by myself was actually quite therapeutic. It allowed me to have me-time and engage with nature. One challenge of running by myself is I could have totally walked the whole thing if I wanted to and nobody would know. I’m a woman of integrity so I did run whenever I could but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t tempted haha. The race was quite interesting because at each mile we were given a full-sized chocolate bar and water. I left with a Twix, Reeses, and collected my medal after crossing the finish line and being given chocolate covered pretzels, one mini-donut, a chewy bar, and a candy cane. I didn’t eat it all but instead saved some of it for my family. 


All and all, I’m happy I was able to do this 5K even if I didn’t run the entire thing. I now know that if I can do it without training, I will only get better as I train for next year. I have now made it a goal to run one 5k every month of 2018. I will be tracking my progress on instagram with my hashtag #MaraRunsMoreThanHerMouth so keep an eye out for my posts on there. 
What are some health + fitness goals you have for 2018? Let’s talk about em in the comments below! 

2 Things You Must Do Now For A Successful New Year

Towards the end of the year EVERYBODY and they mama wants to tell you what you need to do before the New Year. Trust me, I get it. I listen to a lot of podcasts (A LOT) and a majority of them have told me what I need to do to get my sh*t together for 2018. BUT SERIOUSLY, if you don’t do anything else, these next 2 things I’m about to tell you will help you set the momentum for 2018. These are literally the most thought provoking yet simple things that will get you on track for having one of the best years of your life and you HAVE to do them before next year. I actually think you should do them now before November is over.

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  1. Write Down Your Wins of This Year (and continue to do so, forever)

The idea for this one I got from one of my most favorite podcasts, Behind The Brilliance by Lisa Nicole Bell. (sidenote: check out this podcast, seriously! Lisa Nicole Bell is so knowledgeable and gifted at telling you what you need to hear while being funny as hell and relatable) Anyways, on one of her most recent episodes titled “8 for 2018”, one of her tips was to track your wins in the New Year, every week. If you’re like me, when you first try to think of your “wins” for this year, your mind goes blank. You might still have credit card debt even though you said you were going to pay it off (guilty) or you didn’t hit that weight loss goal you set back in January (also guilty), BUT I guarantee even if you had your roughest year yet, you still have some wins you can write down. If you’re reading this I’ll give you a free one. In all the craziness that has happened this year a solid WIN would be “I survived this year so far!” Honestly, as someone who has lost two people in my family this year, I’m so grateful to be alive and able to pursue my passions and dreams. Your WINS don’t have to be large scale. They can be as simple as you finished reading a new book that taught you something new, or you fell in love with yourself. Think of the small things that you didn’t give yourself credit for this year and WRITE THEM DOWN. I personally believe November is an excellent month to do this because 1. It allows you to see all of the greatness you’ve accomplished so far 2. It motivates you to finish this year out strong. 3. It helps you keep up the positive energy going into 2018. That being said, you should go ahead and write those WINS down, NOW!

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  1. Write Down Your Goals for 2018 (yes, already!)

Now if you’ve been following my blog for a while you know I am totally the person who starts thinking about what I want to get done the following year in November before that New Year’s Eve. That being said, I encourage everyone to write down their goals for the New Year NOW! Not tomorrow, not next week, not New Year’s Eve drunkenly on a bar napkin, RIGHT NOW. Procrastination is the enemy of progress so the sooner you start writing down those goals, the sooner you can start writing down the steps you need to take to reach those goals. One you write the steps down you can start taking those steps…you guessed it, THIS YEAR! This process is all about establishing our good habits and getting some trial and error out of the way that way come January 1st we don’t look like a dear in the damn headlights.

The end of the year can be a tad bit overwhelming and the possibilities of the New Year can be intimidating. However, if you look at all the wonderful things you’ve done so far and plan for the even greater accomplishments in your future, this time of the year can exciting and inspiriting. Take time to reflect, organize, plan, and even start executing so you can live your best life now and continue to do so into the New Year. Go ahead and drop whatever you’re doing and write down those wins for this year and goals for next year. Do it! You won’t regret it.

Health + Fitness Tips: The Things That Helped Me Create Good Habits

Some of the most common New Year’s Resolutions revolve around working out and losing weight. Making losing weight as one of your resolutions is stressful because many times if the right foundation for these changes isn’t established then it makes it difficult to lose weight and discourages people from reaching their goals. When it comes to having a healthier life and losing weight, there is no magic pill or one size fits all method. People’s bodies and genetics are different. There are, however, very basic things we can change about our lives that will usually help us get closer to our health and fitness goals than if we didn’t adapt them at all. Without lifestyle changes and consistency, we will be doomed to repeat our past mistakes and end up right back where we started.

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Last year I lost almost 30 lbs before my graduation. I was so happy when I was shopping for dresses for my sorority formal and had discovered I went down a dress size. My confidence was high and it wasn’t just because I looked better but it was because I felt better. Since then, I have gained back a good chunk of the weight I lost. When I was in Ohio I noticed what had happened and was extremely saddened by my weight gain. “How could I let all of my hard word before graduation go to waste?” “What happened”, I asked myself. As I reflected on what I had done before graduation to lose weight I decided to make this post for me to refer back to whenever I fall of the wagon (which happens. Humans are not created without flaws). These are some of the things that personally helped me lose weight and feel good about myself and some of the things I was missing out on after I moved from San Diego.

Health + Fitness Journal: By keeping a Health + Fitness Journal, I was able to document my water intake, everything I was eating (clean food and junk food, no discrimination), my workouts or physical activities, and notes on that day. I think this helped me because I was able to notice patterns about my eating habits and make adjustments for the next day or week depending on how life went. I also feel shame if I write “didn’t workout today” too many days in a row. I would definitely recommend this for people like me who love to snack. Snacks don’t seem like a lot until you have to write them all down. It’s also a great way to notice if your body is hitting a plateau because you haven’t switched up your routines yet. This year I have two different Health + Fitness Journals that help me keep track of everything.

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Meal Prep with VARIETY: One thing I noticed throughout the years is that if my meal prep doesn’t have variety, I will NOT be able to stick to it no matter how hard I try. There are only so many days that I can eat fish, broccoli, and brown rice before I lose MY damn minds. I’m a self-named Foodie and if my food doesn’t have variety, that is a sure fire way for me to rather eat out of the house than eat what is in my little square container. What I did back then and do now is try to make 4 or 5 different yet cheap meals that have various flavors so that I don’t get tired of them and switch them up each day. Pinterest has made this even easier now that I am a pescatarian transitioning to more plant-based diet. I’ve mastered the art of $40 a week Trader Joe’s grocery shopping.

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A Workout I Love: This one is a very important one! It should be the first one but I already wrote the other two and I’m too lazy to copy and paste it as the first one. Judge me if you must. Anyways, nothing is more discouraging to your health + fitness journey than if you hate the workouts you have to do. It’s one thing if there is a workout you hate every so often like “Leg Day” or whatever but if you hate most of your workouts you’re going to have a bad time and eventually stop going to the gym and working out altogether. When I lost weight last year I was obsessed with the elliptical, Turbo Kickboxing, and Zumba classes. I could do those every day and never get tired of them. Once I realized I needed to switch it up I went to a Total Body Class that (implied by the name) put my entire body through the ringer. I hated the class during it but appreciated it once they changed the time and I couldn’t go anymore (I’m weird like that), haha. The point is, I had the workouts I looked forward to in mind when I was doing the ones I didn’t necessarily love. They also replaced the total body class with a hip-hop class so I was all for it.

Honorable Mention* Meal Replacement Shakes and Bars: These are a controversial topic but they worked for me and probably saved me from gaining back more weight than I did. I didn’t use them as the basis of my diet but I did like the have them for breakfast as opposed to warming up something from meal prep in the morning. This was a solution after one too many times of running out of the house and forgetting my oatmeal in the microwave and thus starving or having to get a bagel or some nonsense before going into the office, class, or work. They are very useful for people like me who don’t always feel like dealing with meals in the morning.

DRINK WATER: Period, point blank! I will not go into detail with this because it is the most obvious! Start with a smaller daily intake amount and keep increasing it until you’re drinking near a gallon a day. Not only will you not waste precious calories on sugar water but your skin will glow and you’ll feel better on the inside! 

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These are just some of the few things that helped me get on track last year and are helping me do the same this year. Another thing I noticed is I work better with a schedule of some sort when it comes to fitness. Once I had to cancel my gym membership and didn’t have set in stone classes to attend, I started to gain weight back. When I stop working out it’s easier to eat like trash because I don’t look at it as “undoing all my hard work in the gym” which is silly because everyone knows abs are made in the kitchen but that’s how my brain works sometimes. It’s just nonsensical. This time around I also have my Fitbit which helped me this summer when everybody was using it. I used to love having challenges with my friends. Besides my Fitbit, I am currently in an accountability group with some of my sorority sisters in different parts of the nation. We have weekly Google Hangouts to discuss our progress and daily check-ins. I think it’s working for me so far. Along with all of this I have my own personal fitsagram which documents my health and fitness journey. I’m barely starting to use it consistently though so I’ll let you know how it goes.

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At the end of the day, our Health and Fitness Journeys are our own. What works for me may not work for the next person but one thing ALL people who want to embark on this journey is  that they have to have the will and determination to do so. There are going to be rough times when you may fall off the fitness wagon for a few weeks or more but you can always choose to do better if you want it bad enough. Don’t wait for Mondays and New Year’s Day if you do fall off the wagon. Just get back on an keep on going. You’ll thank yourself later.

Do you have any health + fitness goals established? What are some tools you use to help you stay motivated? Talk about them in the comments!

New Year, Same Goals: Implementing Structure to Make My Dreams Come True 

It’s been quite a while since my last post and a lot has changed since my last entry! I’m out of Lorain, OH, I visited San Diego, Christmas and New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day have passed us by. We are finally in 2017. While 2016 was quite an…interesting year…it wasn’t the worst year in my personal life. While I did have many low moments (very low moments), I also had some pretty great moments as well! I got a promotion at my job, I won a volunteering award from the City of San Diego, I won the Visionary Award at SDSU, I graduated college, I saw Beyoncé and Halsey in concert, I saw family I hadn’t seen since I was a child and got to spend quality time with my grandparents and I started this blog! I’m not saying any of this to brag but to really try to focus on all the great moments I experienced last year. I believe I’m going to need to look at the bright side the next few years (completely unrelated to any significant country changing things that occurred around early November, loljkorami?). 

My last blog was on making New Year’s Resolutions and how to make sure you are successful in achieving them. One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to cultivate a successful blog. While we all define success as something different, for sake of this post I’m defining it as a blog with consistent posting that meets my mission encouraging others to embrace their own life journeys with honesty and transparency with others but most importantly to gain the ability to be transparent with themselves. Because this is my goal, I now have a little bit more structure in regards to how my blog will be going the next few months as I figure out what the hell I’m doing. 

The structure I will be implementing is as follows: Wednesdays I will pick a random thing to post about, Fridays I will post a something Health + Fitness related (recipes, workouts, apps, etc), and Sundays I will post my musings (I mean hello! It is called The Musings of Mara after all!) I’m also in the process of putting together an Instagram account strictly for The Musings of Mara so that people can follow me there too. At some point before my 24th birthday I will also be buying a domain! 2017 is the year of manifesting my brand and I’m going to get it done! 
My purpose of this entry by posting this I will be feel obligated to hold myself accountable or feel public shame (seriously, call me out on my shit if you actually read this blog and notice I don’t post on one of the days I just said.) I really feel that this year will be a great one. 

When December 31st, 2017 rolls around what is one thing you will have wished you accomplished? 

The Reasons Why I’ve Already Finished Planning My New Year’s Resolutions in November and Why You Should Do the Same

If you’ve spent a decent amount of time on social media over the last few years I’m sure you’ve stumbled upon the typical end-of-the-year Facebook statuses, Instagram captions, and tweets that start coming around this time of the year, EVERY year. You know the ones I’m talking about “New Year, New Me!” and “Next year is going year is going to be MY YEAR!” Depending on who is saying those statements you miiiight believe them or (more often than not) you roll your eyes to the back of your head and think “yeah…sure.” Many people meet these statements with contempt and thoughts similar to “You didn’t accomplish anything the last three years; what makes you think next year is going to be any different?” or my personal favorite “Why wait for the New Year to make a change? Just do it now!” What do I think? I think there is a gray area that needs to be explored when it comes to New Year’s Resolutions and everything surrounding them.

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As you can tell by the title of this post, I completely believe in New Year’s Resolutions and people striving to become better people and achieve various goals as the years go on. However, I do believe that in order for people to be successful in achieving their goals and sticking to their resolutions we must think of them way before December 30th or 31st and maybe even before the month of December even begins. I was listening to an old episode of one of my favorite podcasts “Behind the Brilliance” from Lisa Nicole Bell and she was talking about getting a running start on the New Year in the end of September/early October. While I did love that episode (as well as the whole podcast in general), I don’t necessarily believe that you are doomed to failure if you didn’t start planning your New Year goals, plans, and resolutions by the end of September. You can still be successful if you sit down, reflect, analyze, and come up with your plans by the end of November.

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Many of you are probably reading this and thinking “Well thanks Mara that only gives us a mere few DAYS to get to our $#!+ together. Well, I apologize but you’ll be happy to know working on timing of blog entries is one of my many resolutions, haha. Your next thought might be something along the lines of “Why must we have it all sorted by the end of November?” I’m going to tell you why. In my opinion, by mid-November enough of the year has gone by and we have endured enough failures (and hopefully successes as well) that we can accurately reflect and analyze on our year, patterns, and behaviors to see what worked, what didn’t, and what we need to avoid completely in the following year. If you are able to solidify your New Year’s Resolutions and Goals by the end of November you can get your trial and error out of the way without making yourself feel hopeless in the New Year.

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Whenever I try to make resolutions there are quite often times that I make them without the realistic expectation that changing my habits overnight will be extremely hard…if not damn near impossible. Making our New Year’s Resolutions randomly a day or two before without giving it much thought, we don’t allow ourselves enough time to work out the kinks through trial and error that is needed ultimately to make a lifestyle change. If we were to spend the month of November reflecting, brainstorming, and analyzing we will be more likely to succeed because we have already invested so much time in and developed attachments to these resolutions and goals. I have a personal example from late last year and early this year to prove my point. One New Year’s Resolution in particular which is a popular and very common one was “to lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle.” While I was successful in losing weight over the course of this year, I could have been even more successful if I had already started thinking about it prior to December. I wasn’t able to actually establish a successful routine until mid-February if not almost the end of February. I think by not reflecting on WHY I wanted to lose weight (besides superficial reasons like I want to be sexy by my graduation) and not giving myself time to adjust my lifestyle accordingly, I had already set myself to go into the New Year without any momentum and no plan for success. Luckily for me, I didn’t let my lack of success in January discourage me. However, this is not always the case for many people.

So how exactly does one come up with their New Year’s Resolution in November and make sure they achieve their goals in the upcoming year? Since I barely dropped this news on y’all with a week left in November, I’ll give you a condensed step by step guide.

  1. Reflect on the past year: What did you do well this previous year? What areas could use improvement? It’s sometimes easier if you do it month by month if you don’t know where to start.
  2. Create a list of your Goals and then your Resolutions: Base these on your previous answers to the question “What areas could use improvement?” First make a list of goals and then make resolutions that would be needed to achieve each goal.
  3. Analyze them and discover your why: Are all of your resolutions truly important to you? Are any of them superficial and based on how others perceive you rather than how you truly are? Why are these your resolutions and goals? How would your life look like if you didn’t achieve them?
  4. Edit your list: Make sure everything on your list is for you to achieve things that are based on yourself and your happiness alone. You want to make sure they will give you a truly fulfilling life and not just a life that looks good on the outside. WRITE THEM DOWN.
  5. Plan, Plan, PLAN: What resources do you need to establish the necessary habits for you to be successful? Break each resolution down to monthly check-ins that will allow you to track your progress.
  6. Act on them now: Decide which resolutions you can start on now so you can get the kinks and bumps in the road out of the way now. WRITE THIS DOWN TOO.
  7. Be accountable: Stick to your resolutions once the year begins! You have spent too much time on them so far to just leave them abandoned.

There you go! Less than 10 steps will help you on your way to having a successful and life-changing year. After you finish reading this blog entry, walk away from your computer screen, put your phone down, and get to work! January 1st will be here before we know and it and I MEAN…you don’t want to be the person in the same spot 365 days from now. Answer the following questions in the comments to get your brain working towards these steps!

What is one area of your life you hope to work towards and experience improvement in the New Year? What is one goal you hope to accomplish by this time next year?