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Why I Decided to Go Back to School

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When I tell people that I am venturing back to school, I get confused looks riddled with sympathy. Even a freshman felt bad for me the other day.  But nothing, no amount of work, will deter me from finishing the classes I need to enter graduate school. I’m on a Post-Baccalaureate Journey and I am extremely proud of myself for taking this step.

I think what people are missing is that going back to school isn’t as taboo as we think. People don’t advertise it like they do getting into college or graduate school but more people are going back to school to take basic prerequisites in order to enter the industry of their choice. I actually met a nutritionist at a social event who went back to school after getting her B.A. in Business to pursue nutrition studies. This took her 4 years but she did it because she wanted it.

I believe that others might fear going back to school and taking lower level classes  is scary and financially very risky. Taking a full load of prerequisites only to risk getting rejected? TERRIFYING!  But what if you didn’t take this chance? What if you continued on the path you were going? They say life is short but I can guarantee you it’ll feel really really long if you continue doing something you don’t want to do. It’ll be a hard road if you keep suppressing this will to try. Would standing still and withering away emotionally, mentally, physically at a job you don’t like be worth skipping the years of prerequisites   higher education needed to jump start your career? If you have to go back to school to take prerequisites, I promise it is an investment. Fields that require you to take prerequisites before grad school give you a singular path to follow career wise. For example, if you get your Doctorate in Pharmacy, you can only be a pharmacist, not an internist and not a surgeon. You leave graduate school with a piece of paper that has a clear map of what you are qualified to do. People in today’s economy are tired of spending the money to go to school only to get a degree that they could do a thousand things with. In turn, these jobs  don’t always have consistent demand because so many people from different disciplines can do the job. You can’t argue that staying at the job you don’t like is worth skipping out on pursuing a direct path, something you have chosen for yourself and have invested time through specialized courses in.

In my opinion, it’s always a good thing when someone is forced to be in a difficult situation. I have more respect for my time and my education now that I am going back to school than I did as a 19 year old. Let this experience change you and guide you into having a new view of education and your own capabilities!

I’m not paving the way. I’m not unique. So many people do what I’m doing. The reasons might vary but many people are going for it and I’m so proud of every last one of them.In a way, what I’m doing for myself doesn’t deserve a pat on the back. I decided to run after something that has kept me awake at night. Something that makes me want to study all nonstop over the next 3 years. Something that I know I can do and something I know is so close. I’m uncomfortable right now because what I want is not in my hand. What I want is not mine yet. But it will be. So I’m driven by this goal that I have no choice but to succeed. A situation that would deserve a pat on the back would be choosing this role when I had another one (an easier and more green option)  waiting on me. But this is it. This is all I want to do. And I will make it mine.

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A Few of My Favorite Things: Makeup Edition

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I am notoriously picky with two things.

1) My work

2) What I put on my face.

There are very few products that I trust and when I do, they ain’t getting rid of me. I’m a fan for life. 4 makeup products have continually impressed to the point that a gal who normally likes to save is shelling out money and…buying in bulk (GASP). Here are my favorite products & why.

MAKE UP FOR EVER MAT VELVET +: This matte foundation is a favorite for any skin type. That’s really hard for a matte foundation to accomplish. It has medium-full coverage, creating a flawless finish that leaves your skin glowing.  I like it for me because I have combination skin.  The best part about this foundation is that it’s oil-free and has a consistently low breakout record. Sephora, $39.

Shiseido Kebuki Foundation brushThis is arguably Shiseido’s  best quality brush. The brush provides a smooth finish and does not shed or have stray strands.  I’ve found that the brush works best if you dot foundation on your face and then use similar to a beauty blender, dabbing rather than working in circular motions.  The brush is light weight which is a huge plus for me as I travel often. Shiseido.com, $30.

MAC Matte Lipstick:  Matte lipstick is in and here to stay.  This long-lasting lipstick remains a favorite of mine because of it’s high-quality.  The lipstick glides onto your lips smoothly with no grittiness.  It sits on the lips comfortably and holds on through food and beverages.  You will need a make-up remover to take off this lipstick at the end of the day. MAC, $17.

Nars Blush/Bronzer Duo:  I love combo make-up products.  Oftentimes, however, they are not all quality products and the design may be faulty. This duo is compact but still gives me enough product. All 3 color combo palettes offered by Nars are flattering and service different skin tones.  The bronzer I matched with is Laguna Mini and is flattering to my skin by giving a glowing golden finish.  This product works well with highly sensitive skin.  Sephora, $24. 

Louis Vuitton Damier Wristlet: My LV wristlet is a fav of mine because it is the perfect size for girls night, date night, shopping, whatever. The purse can only hold necessities  so I love that this bag forces me to prioritize what I really need on my night out.  Though it is considered a luxury product, it’s durable. The Damier print can go through hell and still come out unharmed; that’s more than the monogram print can say. Louis Vuitton stores or online.

Visit me next week to discover A Few of My Favorite Things: Skincare Edition!

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The Value in Projects

 

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Your internship experience in college has the potential to be a pivotal one.  Gathering school credit or getting paid does not have to be the main attraction. If you are exclusively seeking project based internships, you may find that academic credit and hourly pay become supplementary benefits to you.

Stereotypically, internships are viewed as rather meaningless experiences where the intern is driven and enthusiastic to start. Overtime, however, the lack of substantial field-related work drives interns to be disengaged and viewed as an office nightmare rather than an asset. Some companies may not realize that placing interns on project based assignments helps promote engagement and further insight into the field.

Both corporations and potential interns need to view internships like adopting a puppy. You first take a step back and look at your time, living arrangement, and finances to see if you are ready for a puppy. When you determine those three components will work, you decide what breed is best for you. Once you decide on a favorite breed, you begin to look for possible breeders or shelters to locate your furry friend. When you find your buddy, you are set for life and trust that your past research has prepped you up for success. Locating the perfect internship is much like finding your lifelong furry companion. You first need to determine if you have time to spend on an internship. Then, you need to decide on what location you would be interested in working in. Can your finances allow you to relocate? Does your financial situation force you to only seek paid internships? Once you figure out that information, you can move on to deciding what area of your field is best for you. If you major in marketing, are you interested in an internship that covers market research or one that is focused on digital marketing campaigns? When you’ve decided your specialty, it’s now time to hone in on the type of corporation you want to work for. Big or small? Fortune 500 or start-up? In the end, you trust your past research to land you an internship that will give you the tools to succeed in the real world. A poorly conducted internship search can lead to a poor experience that does nothing to help you gain insight into the field and determine if it is the right path. You can save a lot of time worrying if your internship experience will give you enough information to make future big career decisions by landing a project based internship.

A project-based internship is a program that delegates specific projects to the intern. Ideally, the intern will spend their entire time at the company working on their own projects, whether it is one large project or multiple. Internships are supposed to be a learning and development experience so routine supervisor feedback and guidance is expected and strongly encouraged. The benefit of project-based internships is that students can learn how to be business savvy early on and break away from the type of project based learning taught in our school systems. With project based internships, students are working  hard on developing the project until the next supervisor meeting. Supervisor meetings ensure interns are on the right track and (hopefully) new information and new questions are shared each visit.  Because interns are managed by very busy supervisors, the intern learns to only ask questions once they have utilized every resource possible to get the desired outcome.  The intern learns about patience and perseverance through project based internships as they are rooted in continuous advancement towards an end result.

Project-based internships can give you the tools you need to determine if your chosen major is the right field for you post-graduation. When you work closely with your own project, you understand the pace of the industry and the work/life balance. You also face the negatives of the industry on a daily basis and can decide if those are deal breakers for you. An internship that has you finishing up the end of one assignment here and there cannot grant you this visibility. An internship that allows you to spend your time mostly job shadowing cannot give you insight into whether the field will allow healthy work/life balance.

Most people seek internships with the hope that they can lead to full-time opportunities. It is vital that your internship experience provides you with enough data to assess if the company you interned with is somewhere you want to be. An internship based on menial tasks will not give you the correct information to determine if the company is a fit for you. In fact, you may be so put off with the shallowness of work that you understandably but prematurely remove the company from your list.   Project based internships will allow you to view how the company operates within your field. As a project based intern, you can determine if feedback given to interns is viewed as a serious priority (if the company sets up an intern program, it should be). You can understand if the company takes the feedback you provide seriously. You can determine if the department you are working in is successful and lives up to the hype fed to you during the interview process. You will get the full experience as an intern working on projects. You will work on the projects first-hand and interact closely with coworkers, learning what personalities are given the opportunity to thrive at this company. You will evaluate what kind of behavior is tolerated and rewarded. You will understand the work culture fully and evaluate if the environment will be challenging enough for you.

More companies are learning of the value that project based internships can provide. They also understand that projects are a more objective way of evaluating the intern and their work ethic. However, don’t assume project based internships are industry specific or that a Fortune 500 company must offer them. Even though more companies are jumping on board, it’s always good to confirm with the recruiter that a good chunk of your summer will be spent doing intern specific projects if that’s what the job description states. Probe further and ask what the specifics of the projects will be. Don’t sign an offer letter until you get details about the projects. Even companies who see immense value in project-based programs may not devote enough time to the intern program to determine these projects well in advance. If you decide to enter a different industry or pursue a different company, all agencies across different fields will value your project-based experience. This internship program showcases your ability to think critically, thrive professionally, and show leadership.

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Certifiably Wrong

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Those who know me know me well.  I’m not one to criticize nor call out others for doing what makes them happy.  Unless what makes them happy is hurting others. I am about to go on one of the most passionate but necessary harangues in a while. If you are someone who has paid for online training or nutrition programs with someone you cannot confirm is a certified personal trainer (CPT), this blog post is specifically for you.

A couple of months ago, I was watching “Catch a Contractor” on Spike with my now husband. There is a beefy contractor on the show named Skip Baddell who helps comedian, radio personality, and former contractor Adam Carolla bust independent contractors who are unlicensed and botch people’s homes with their unprofessional work (is there another word for contractor?).  On the show, Skip is portrayed as a hot-headed yet passionate contractor who becomes extremely angered every time a scamming business owner decides to work on a home without getting a license and with shoddy inadequate tools.  Skip argued that bad contractors insult those in the industry who are willing to put in the money and effort to get their licenses, insurance, and proper tools.  I always could agree with what Skip was saying but, to my horror, it became evident to me months ago that the same thing was happening within the personal training industry. Would you trust an unlicensed contractor to play with your house without having the proper education? No, right? So why on earth would you trust an unlicensed personal trainer with your body?

The fitness industry has always been a booming business.  Now, people who are gym rats can upload pictures of themselves and get not only likes but inquisitions about meal plans and workout routines.  This sparked many to realize a side personal training business can be developed in order to earn some extra cash (or big cash depending on your follower quantity). I know some people who got involved with lifting and then wanted to help others make the same transformation (including me!).  Therefore, they obtained their PT license in a few short months and are now educated enough to give effective and safe workout programs. However, there are a lot of people who do not put in this basic effort and are training people online with limited knowledge and their unrelated personal experience for some fast cash.

Just because you have the power to reel people into your workout and diet plans with a spectacular figure, doesn’t mean you should. If you have lean muscle and low body fat, that means you have found the correct formula that works for you. Under no circumstance does that mean you possess the knowledge to help other people.  There is a popular fitness model on Instagram.  She was able to completely change her body and build lean muscle. I commend her as she looks great.  For a decent amount of money, she was offering a 3 month program to help other people. The only problem? She is not certified. The progress pictures of her paying clients blatantly showed that (your client standing on their hind leg does not qualify as booty gains).  Additionally, she is charging you to help calculate your macro-nutrients. You can find that formula online! Anyone who charges you to calculate your beginning macros are not being upfront and should be listed under the category of “forever shady”.  She was also going to alter your macro-nutrients based on your progress.  Only a licensed nutritionist, registered dietician, or nutrition specialist has the qualifications to legally give you detailed nutrition advice in the state of TN.  As a TN trainer, I struggled giving very basic nutritional help. That should prove to anyone how important correct diet guidance is.  It is horrifying that someone who has not even put in the effort to gain a basic personal training certification was going as far as determining how much you should consume per day (wrecked metabolism anyone?). Most importantly, there was no medical form to fill out prior to beginning training- a basic necessity in personal training that could be learned through a course. That means you could have a bad knee or asthma but this girl would never know. A serious injury could absolutely be avoided if your online uncertified coach took a personal training course to understand the large amount of papers that need to be processed in order to protect clients and themselves. If you get injured, there is a large chance that your uncertified personal trainer does not have insurance because if they don’t care to get certified they probably don’t care about insurance. Why would you trust someone who clearly isn’t serious enough to protect themselves training you?

Gaining lean muscle and losing fat is a long and challenging process.  It takes great skill for someone to be able to figure out the correct formula for themselves, much less another human being.  If you don’t know if the online program you have invested money in is administered by a certified personal trainer, there is a great chance that it isn’t.  Most trainers are overzealous in their attempt to show they have certification and gain clients.  My goal is not to be salty about the fact that I am out money thanks to license and insurance fees while these faux experts are making bank. The purpose of this post is bring awareness to the necessity of hiring someone who is trained. You probably will still get results from an uncertified personal trainer as new programs can cancel out plateaus and nonetheless bring results. But wouldn’t you feel better knowing that the person behind the screen is committed enough to get licensed?  And yeah- you may still be at risk of getting injured and being trained improperly by a CPT employed at a reputable gym location. But if a certified personal trainer at a large gym fails at being a good trainer can you imagine how an uncertified independent “contractor” would fail at being a good one?

To protect yourself, always ask potential trainers if they have a certification; great certifications include NASM and ISSA.  Always ask the person you are trusting with your body numerous questions, probe a bit. Don’t be shy! Life is long.

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The price of being 22 and engaged

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During my 14 month engagement, I have read a plethora of stories about young women in their early 20s who were bent upon not being engaged. All the articles were written by different women who emphasized just how important it was to be single in your early 20’s because of all the cool things you can do (like eat Nutella and not feel ashamed).  The author made a failed attempt to use eating Nutella in your underwear as a reason to stay single while young. We will get to that later.  I tried and tried to understand where these female authors were coming from. During my engagement, I also tried to understand where friends and family were coming from when they said I was too young to be hitched or that I had the rest of my life to be married. But, I realized that these people who I deemed to be close to me weren’t trying to see my side of things. They weren’t trying to see the awesome experiences I have had because I have been in a relationship. They didn’t even want to see how a healthy engagement was changing my life and paving the way for a fun yet stable future. I decided to no longer focus on their viewpoint and solely focus on mine. This is how I see it.

Myth 1 Being engaged/married young means that you stop having fun: Being engaged has shown me different ways to have fun.  I have discovered two-person activities and life-changing hobbies that I never would’ve discovered. For example, my fiance was a college football player and introduced me to weightlifting.

Myth 2: Being engaged/married young is too soon to make someone your world: My fiance is not my world.  No matter how old I am, I would hope my significant other would not be the sole reason why I eat and breathe. My world is made up of different hobbies, people, and ideas.

Myth 3: Being engaged/married young means you won’t get to date anymore: Isn’t the whole purpose of dating to find someone that you eventually want to settle down with? I found my partner sooner rather than later and now we get to spend more time together.

Myth 4: You are too young to know what you want: I can only speak for myself. The first 2 years that I spent partying and dating around in college was enough of an indication of who and what I do not desire. I learned quickly thanks to some polarizing experiences and eye-opening times. I was blessed to learn what I feel comfortable with and move forward at a young age.

Myth 5: Being engaged/married young will stop your career:  This concern is heavily linked with the outdated assumption that couples will reproduce very quickly into marriage.  Let’s just get this one out of the way.  If you are a couple who decides to have kids, there is more time to do so if you marry young.  Yes, I know that women can now have children well into their forties but I am speaking on this topic very loosely.  If you get married younger, there won’t be as much of a biological pressure to have children (except if you really want to). Arguably, you still have space and time to develop your career and spend time with one another before the kids. Also, because I know that I am building a foundation and a future, I am working even harder to make sure that we can enjoy our life together. When I was single, I didn’t give care if I was on track or not. My decisions and my habits only helped or hurt me.  Now, I feel responsible for building my empire with my future husband and I have never worked more diligently.

Myth 6: You can’t eat a whole jar of Nutella in your underwear if engaged/married young: Any man who tries to stop you from indulging in Nutella if you freaking want it is not a keeper anyways. A good fiance/husband will laugh on lovingly and call you his little fatty in jest.

That being said, the price of being engaged is actually a pretty good deal.

 

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How to Cheat…on Your Meals

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fast food and unhealthy eating concept – close up of fast food snacks and coca cola drink on wooden table

Today is cheat meal day for me and I could not think of a better blog topic than cheats. A lot of inexperienced weightlifters might take a sigh of relief on their cheat day and think there are no rules.  This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Cheat meals, like any other component of nutrition should be done sensibly. There are still some mistakes you can make and some tips you can incorporate in order to not erase your week’s hard work.

1) Cheat Meal Rather Than Cheat Day: Whether you allow yourself one or two cheat meals per week, I strongly suggest that you spread them out over two days. Don’t take a cheat day. It is incredibly difficult for your body to reset after you have been eating poorly all day. One cheat meal per day will be less damaging.

And with that…I gotta say this:

2) Eat Just One Cheat Meal: Everytime you cheat, you are taking a risk. You are risking not only erasing progress but also caving into the delicious food you are eating and continuing the cycle. I do recommend only having 1 cheat per week if you want to keep yourself motivated. When I was on vacation, I ate poorly all three days I was in paradise. Then when I got home, I ate poorly for another 2 days. It was really difficult to get the motivation to jump back on track because I was already in a habit of poor nutrition. It was very difficult to snap out of it, even though I had pre-packaged meals waiting for me at home!

3) Cheat In Moderation: Just because you are having a cheat meal does not mean that you should order food whose portion sizes are post on wall of restaurant worthy. Remember that it is healthy to cheat but sensible to eat a normal quantity. That means maybe 2 doughnuts instead of 6.

4) Go All Out: I know you are probably wondering how I can say you should go all out with your cheats after I just used the word moderate in my last tip. What I mean by going all out is ordering either an unhealthy side (fries) or a delicious dessert rather than a sirloin and rice from Chilli’s. That’s not really a cheat. That’s actually a few bodybuilder’s meal 5. Cheat meals should feel like cheats so that they are satisfying for you.

5) Remember to cheat and cheat guilt-free : Technically a cheat meal is a treat meal! Call it a treat meal if it helps you extinguish the guilt.  A lot of people have no desire to cheat. That’s great. But if you plan to, do it! And don’t feel bad afterwords! Cheat meals are not only essential to staying on your regimen after satisfying your craving but are also important to replace glycogen and fuel workouts. Cheat meals can also get you past plateaus by revving up your metabolism.

6) Plan your cheats wisely: Even though when Wednesday comes around I want to cheat on my diet, I don’t. I save cheat meal for when I see my fiancé or friends. Cheating is just so much better when I’m with someone or a group of people. I try to think ahead and see what events I have during the weekend and plan my cheat meal around that.

7) Split up dinner and dessert: A lot of people gasp in horror at having a cheat dinner and cheat meal in a row. I do that occasionally (and guilt-free).  I think it’s sensible to have a cheat burger and fries on Wednesday and then eat clean til Saturday night before you have some popcorn at the movies. If you know you’re craving dessert this week, do it. It’ll give you something to look forward to and you will actually enjoy that dessert rather than scarfing it down with a pending tummy ache.

8) Cheat then workout: Have a cheat prior to working out (hint: leg day). You will use up those extra calories by being active and being active helps you feel less lethargic post cheat.