How to Adult: Healthy Eating During the Holidays

You don’t have to totally ditch your diet for the holidays. Here’s how I’ll be enjoying all my favorites this week while still eating responsibly!

How to Adult: Healthy Eating During the HolidaysI have been doing my absolute best to eat healthy over the past couple of months, a challenge made significantly harder by all the holiday goodness. Thanksgiving is my favorite meal of the year and Christmas has ALL the good desserts. It’s really stinking hard to make wise nutrition choices right now!

If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed about staying mindful of your diet this week, here are some tips to help us both stay on track while still enjoying the Christmas spirit!

#1 – Control Your Portion Sizes

This is my every day go-to tip for my diet and it really does work! My favorite way of doing this is just by grabbing a smaller plate. Big plates make it super tempting to just fill ‘em up but if you have a smaller plate, there’s less room to fill. I also find using paper plates to be a helpful option, especially the cheaper ones, because you can feel the weight of your food a lot more dramatically. Yes, Christmas china is pretty but paper plates are disposable and can help you control your portion sizes…I think I know which one I’d go for.

#2 – Eat Only When You’re Hungry

This one is tricky for me because my body is not great at letting me know when I’m hungry. But one of the real dangers with holiday over-eating comes not so much in the meal itself but all the grazing that happens throughout the day. I know in my family we’ll have breakfast and then snack until the big meal is ready sometime in the afternoon and boy, do those snacks get ya! Reading your body’s natural signs of hunger and only eating when it tells you to is hard but so worth it.

#3 – Drink More Water

This is another one straight off my day-to-day diet but it’s so good, it just had to be included in this list. Water. We need it but there’s a lot of other delicious holiday drinks that like to get in our way of consuming more of it. Opting for water instead of eggnog will not only save you calories but also help out with tip #2. If you think you’re hungry, drink a glass of water. If you’re still hungry when you finish, you can eat. But a lot of the times, our bodies tell us we’re hungry when really we just need more water.

#4 – Eat You’re Veggies First

So much of what we like to eat during holidays is protein and carbs so eating your veggies first may not be your favorite idea but it will help make sure you get all those good vitamins and nutrients before you get too full to get around to them. This is probably a good practice to get into for day-to-day life too, but I just can’t bring myself to make it a normal practice just yet. I’ll hold on to my childish dislike of most veggies for a little longer, thank you very much.

#5 – Only Indulge in What You Love

It’s Christmas, go ahead and treat ‘yo self! But instead of filling an entire plate with every tasty treat on the counter, scout out only the things you’ll really cherish and enjoy those. Ask yourself “what are my three favorites?” or “What’s something I only get to treat myself to during the holidays?” to help narrow down your options.

#6 – Don’t Feel Guilty

It’s Christmas! It’s ok to indulge. Feeling guilty won’t delete calories that you’ve already eaten. Nor will it replace the benefits of a morning run. Basically, feeling guilty doesn’t get you anywhere. Be kind to yourself and remember that each day is a fresh start to take care of your body.

I hope these tips help you enjoy Christmas this week and enjoy yummy, delicious foods that make your heart smile. Eating healthy during the holidays is tough work so do your best and feel good about it. And remember that tomorrow is a new day with a fresh start.

PSA: Christmas Has Changed

If you haven’t noticed yet, Christmas is different as an adult.

PSA: Christmas Has ChangedSo Friends, I have a confession: I hate surprises. Mostly when I know they’re coming. Christmas has always been a fun challenge of my stealth skills as I’ve always done everything within my power to know my gifts ahead of time. My parents were pretty great at being Santa Claus but the magic didn’t last long because they never anticipated my extreme impatience and ninja skills.

I remember as a kid sneaking down the staircase and watching them set up all my gifts and taking bites from cookies. When they’d go back to bed, I’d walk around and check out some of my new toys and leave them right where my parents had left them so that no one would know I’d gotten up in the middle of the night.

When I got older and my family stopped doing Santa gifts, I would go on hunts through the house to find my presents before they were wrapped. This usually happened right around when school started because my mother is famous for doing Christmas shopping WAY too early.

And when I started working at a toy store in high school and college, I became so great at wrapping presents that I could skillfully and stealthily unwrap whatever was under the tree for me and re-wrap it, making Christmas morning much more fun by getting to act shocked and surprised.

I still don’t like surprises but since I’m a grown-up now, I don’t have the opportunity for stealthy Christmas antics. More than that though, I think I’m losing Christmas spirit as I get older. Maybe I need to sing louder for all to hear but I really do feel like Christmas cheer is harder to generate these days. In school, there were always breaks for holidays but my big girl job isn’t quite so generous. And now that Jake and I are married, figuring out the holidays has gotten a lot more complicated.

I think part of the reason Christmas feels less magical though is that my priorities have changed. I care a whole lot less about the presents under the tree these days and a whole lot more about celebrating Baby Jesus with my family. While I am still a firm believer in holiday traditions, I hold on to them as an adult for the time spent with loved ones rather than for the magic of preparing for Santa. So maybe, the magic isn’t harder to come by, maybe Christmas is just a different kind of magic as an adult.

Regardless of whether or not you’re feeling the magic this year, I hope you hold on to the hope that Jesus’ birth brings and make your own brand of Christmas magic with the people you love.

Merry Christmas, Friends!

Jackie

How to Adult: Looking Like an Adult (Even When You Don’t Feel Like One)

Most days, I feel like a hot mess trying to adult. But that doesn’t mean I have to look like one…

How to Adult: Looking Like an Adult (Even When You Don't Feel Like One)Most of my life I’ve looked older than my age. This was cool in high school when everyone wants to look older but is considerably less cool now. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been carded getting drinks and most of the high school girls I hang out with at church are confused about my age because I don’t act a whole lot like the married adult I am sometimes.

I used to think that changing the way I dress would help me to look and feel my own age and it did, just not in the ways I wanted it to. In college, I took my new found freedom of dress (before college I wore uniforms every day for school) and wore all the things I wished I could have worn in high school. While this did make me look more my age, I also found that I wasn’t taken seriously as much as I would have liked.

The way we present ourselves sends a message to the world about who we are and what we want. I’m not saying it’s time to go out and replace everything in your closet with a power suit (although if that’s what you want to do, more power to you…get it? power…ba dum tssss). But I think cleaning up our look with very little effort can go a long way. Even when we don’t feel like adults who know what we’re talking about, we can still command respect with amazingly small changes to our appearance. Here’s what I’m talking about:

  • Wear clothes that FIT. This is a tough one for me since my weight has been fluctuating a lot in the last year or so. I realize that weight presents a challenge to this goal but I promise, wearing the right sizes makes such a huge impact because clothing that is too small or too large tends to look childish. Pick your clothes not by the size number (because we all know those are bogus and there is no standard) but by how they fit your body. This goes for jeans, too. If you find jeans that you love but are a few inches too long, it’s well worth the extra few bucks to get them hemmed to the proper length.

 

  • Clean your glasses. I’ve worn glasses for the last 20 years of my life so I rarely notice when they’re smudgy and need a cleaning just because I’m so used to it. What I don’t typically think about is that even though I can see through smudges perfectly fine, other people can’t. Keep your glasses clean so that people can easily make eye contact with you without thinking about how nasty your life must be if your glasses are that gross.

 

  • Keep your shoes clean, too. This is another one that’s hard for me because I kind of love my nasty, beat-up Converse. But they don’t look great. We don’t think about it often, but shoes probably take the greatest wear and tear out of all the items we wear regularly. Learn the proper way to take care of your shoes and you’ll look a lot more like you know things about life than like a grungy, angst-filled teenager (even if that teenager is your spirit animal).

 

  • Speaking of wear and tear, retire items of clothing that have seen better days. Or at least don’t wear them in public. Items with pilling, fraying, holes, and tears are no good in your efforts to trick the world into believing your adulthood. Even if they’re some of your favorite pieces, it’s time to let go and find new pieces that you’ll love just as much.

 

  • Roll your sleeves better. I know personally when I roll my sleeves, it’s usually because I’m hot and bothered about something (or because I live in Texas and it’s just always hot). But there are ways of rolling shirt sleeves that don’t make you look like the hot mess you may feel like when you go to roll ‘em up. It’s all about giving off a clean exterior, people!

 

  • Take off your old makeup. Yeah, I know, you got in late last night and went straight to bed and your makeup this morning actually doesn’t look half bad. Wrong. Your skin does not appreciate when you go to bed without washing your face and overtime it will show. So, not only does day two makeup not usually look super professional, it will incur the wrath of your skin. Keep makeup remover wipes by your bed if that helps and learn about why your face does not appreciate going to bed dirty.

 

  • Keep hair ties away from your wrist. Oof, this one is hard! I’m so guilty of constantly keeping a black hair tie on my right wrist, I had a tan line there this summer. I’ve heard it’s not awesome-looking to permanently wear hair ties like bracelets but I’m so accustomed to it, I don’t think to look anywhere BUT my wrist these days. However, hair ties have recently been linked to health issues like infections and issues with blood circulation. While you probably have no reason to worry, remember to keep your hair ties clean, wash your hands regularly, and try your best to decrease the amount of time that hair ties stay around your wrist. Also, stretch out new hair ties before keeping them on your wrist so that blood flow is never cut off.

 

  • Ladies, put your bra straps away. I have always felt like this particular strategy for looking more respectable was a no-brainer but recently, it’s kind of come back in style to expose parts of your bra, particularly if it’s pretty and lacy. Keeping your undergarments under your clothes as they were designed to be looks more like you’re asking to be taken seriously than the alternative. And for that matter, wearing bras that fit well can change your look dramatically, not to mention raise your confidence level. So let your pretty bras be a confidence-boosting secret rather than showing them off to the world and notice the difference in how people react.

 

  • Do away with chipping nail polish. Clean nails go a long way in presenting yourself well. Chipped nail polish gives off a young, immature vibe so either take the time to keep your nail polish looking salon fresh or make sure to remove it when it starts looking less than. Next time you go in for that handshake with clean nails you can feel a lot more like the adult you are rather than the kid you feel like.

How we present ourselves says a lot more about who we want to be than we realize most days. You don’t have to completely change your personal style to be taken seriously, though. These small little changes can go so far in showing the world who we are and what we want. What do you think? Have you tried any of these on your own? What was the response you noticed? I’d love to hear your stories about this!

How to Adult: Finding Satisfaction in Any Job

Feeling unfulfilled and/or dissatisfied at work? You don’t have to. Let’s make some lemonade together.

How to Adult: Finding Satisfaction in Any JobOne of the things that I’m most grateful to my parents for is that the raised me to have a good attitude and mindset about the work field. They taught me not only the importance of employment but the importance of being a good employee and what exactly that looks like. My parents also taught me that as Christians, whatever we do, we do it for the Lord, even if that means taking out the trash or cleaning the bathrooms at work.

I’m unbelievably thankful that I am a millennial with a good work ethic and that I’ve been fortunate enough to work at some incredible places with some incredible people. I’m one of the lucky ones who found a job and company that I love and that makes going to work every day easy. But I’ve also had terrible job experiences that I’ve hated, and I know the reality of feeling stuck in those positions, dissatisfied, unfilled, and unappreciated. If that’s you right now, here are some tips to make lemonade and find some satisfaction and fulfillment right where you are.

Focus on what you ROCK at.

Even in my least pleasant jobs, there was always at least one task that I was awesome at, and even if I wasn’t recognized for it, I could have the satisfaction of doing a great job and the knowledge that in some small (or large) way, I was making myself invaluable to my team and company. If you can’t find one task that you get excited about or that you can be proud of, make one up and create a way to play up your strengths. I bet, in the process, you’ll discover some really cool things about yourself and maybe end up developing changes in your position that are a long time coming.

Reflect on Growth and Remember Your Motivation.

Similar to focusing in on your strengths, so much pride and satisfaction can be found in recognizing just how far you’ve come. Think back to your first couple of months in this position and remember the tasks you struggled with. I’d be willing to bet that your day-to-day challenges now are a lot more complicated than they were when you first started. Take some comfort in that. You’ve grown, you’ve faced challenges and come out better from them. And because of that, you know you can continue to face challenges in the workplace with your head held high.

In the same vein, think about your original motivation for taking this job. What were some reasons you accepted it? What did you find most appealing about the position/company/work itself? Sometimes time and negative situations can distract us from how we really feel so remembering how we got where are is a great way to find inspiration.

Hone In on Your Transferable Skills.

I talked about them in a previous post, but in case you missed it, transferable skills are the broader skills you develop in a specific position that can apply to any other position. For instance, a college student who is a summer camp counselor develops specific skills in child care. Child care in and of itself is not necessarily applicable to other jobs they might take, but camp counseling also develops leadership skills such as managing interpersonal conflict, working as part of a team, and problem solving. You can find transferable skills in any position so list out a few you might be developing at your current job, and focus on being excellent in those areas so that wherever you go from here, you will have made the most of this experience.

Be the Force of Change.

If your dissatisfaction and unfulfillment is a result of not feeling appreciated or respected within your company, that sucks and I’m so sorry. No one likes that feeling and because it’s dependent on others around you, there aren’t any practical steps to take to immediately fix it. However, I would challenge you to see this situation as an opportunity to be the force of change in your workplace. A lot of times, if you’re not feeling appreciated or respected at work, it has to do with the culture of your company and, chances are, you are not the only one feeling this way. That being said, company culture changes with the individuals within the company. If you want a more positive, more affirmative company culture, that starts with you. Positivity breeds positivity. By consistently showing honest respect, praise, and admiration to the colleagues around you, you’ll be laying the foundation for creating an environment of respect and support. While it’s easy to sit back and wallow in self pity for feeling unappreciated, the best thing you can do to change your situation is fight back with a positive attitude yourself and watch your environment change around you.

Hold Fast to Your Purpose.

When you are at a place of questioning why you’re in your position at work, remember that God put you there for a reason. When you don’t understand what the point is any more, or you’re frustrated and tired and burnt out, remember that, if you’re a believer, your job is not the thing you do all day from 9-5. Your job is to be an ambassador for Christ to the people around you. Your job is to show your co-workers His love and goodness and patience and peace. Spend some time praying about shifting your focus from the day-to-day practical tasks you face at work to the real reason God put you in that company, on that team, with those people, at this time. I promise, He will be faithful to redirect your thoughts and heart.

How to Adult: Habits for Hacking Adulthood

I’m trying out a few new habits to take my adulting to the next level. Want to join me?

How to Adult: Habits for Hacking AdulthoodIf you’re anything like me, you run on routine. I have the same alarm that goes off every morning and I go through the same steps to get ready every week day before I leave for work. My routine very rarely changes because I’m such a creature of habit. In fact, I lay out my clothes for the week every Sunday evening, a habit that I’ve done every week since my first week of college. (S/o to my college roomie Heather and husband Jake who put up with this weird hack of mine!)

But here’s the thing. Lately I’ve noticed that a lot of my habits actually make my life harder. (I mean, minimally harder because, let’s be real, my life is not hard.) While my routine is comfortable and effective, it’s not always efficient. So to fix that, I’m going to try some life hacks to create new habits within my routine!

They say that forming a new habit can take anywhere from three weeks to two months depending on your personality, so to help me out and track my progress, I’ll be using the coach.me habit tracker app. I’ve used this app before and it’s actually super addicting and effective. I’d love for you to join me on this journey! If you do, feel free to follow me (Jackie Ruesink) and we can keep each other accountable!

So what are these habits to hack adulthood? Glad you asked. There are a lot I could choose from but in the effort of starting out small, here’s what I’m going with first:

  1. No snoozing OR opening up Facebook right away – I personally have never been a snoozer. My alarm goes off and I’m up. BUT I’ve gotten into a bad habit of scrolling social media first thing to delay my morning routine and I know this is not uncommon. But honestly, social media is too useless, depressing, and empty to be filling my brain with it first thing every morning. I’m not going to go crazy and say eliminate social media all together (I like my connection just as much as the next millennial) but I am going to limit it to after I’ve eaten my first meal of the day.
  2. 15 Minutes of Cleaning Every Day – Now, I love to clean but recently I’ve realized how much work it is to actually take care of a home and I’m living in less than 600 square feet! While having big cleaning days every couple of weeks is great, it’s not awesome in the days before those big events when Stella’s fur is practically carpeting our linoleum floors. I’m usually pretty good at decluttering but I think the biggest challenge with this new habit will be cleaning the kitchen as I cook. I know it can be done but I’m definitely not a pro at it…yet.
  3. No Food After 9 PM – I came up with this habit in college because I noticed I don’t sleep well if I’ve eaten close to bed. The science on eating before bed is controversial – some doctors say it leads to weight gain and others say it may help weight loss. Personally, this decision is less about weight and more about quality of sleep. But you may want to check out the pros and cons for yourself.
  4. Drink More Water – I’m one of those people who will just constantly sip on any drink near by all day. I sip drinks to fill awkward pauses, quench my thirst, not be bored, and a host of all kinds of other reasons. My problem is that I almost always want to drink Dr. Pepper or La Croix and not actual water. “But, wait, Jackie, isn’t La Croix sparkling water?” Yes. Yes it is. But all the acid from the carbonation is not ideal for my teeth or tummy, so really, I just need to stick to water. During this challenge, I’ll also be cutting down my soda/caffeine to one Dr. Pepper on Saturdays and Sundays only. Which, for me, is a stinkin’ big deal.
  5. Be Thankful – This is something Jake and I started a few months ago that I absolutely love. We take a few minutes before bed every night to list three things we’re thankful for. It definitely forces me to see the good in crappy days and refocuses my brain and heart on the things that matter. It’s a great way to end the day reflecting on God’s goodness and graciousness and generosity, and it helps me understand, appreciate, and love my husband more to hear his heart.

So that’s my starting line-up for adulting habits. What are some ways you can be adulting better this month? Will you be joining me on coach.me? Let’s chat!

How to Adult: Home Buying Basics

Know nothing about buying a home? Me neither. And I’ve done it. Let’s learn the basics together!

Adobe Spark (10)Facebook kindly reminded me that Jake and I put the offer on our condo in a little over a year ago and I was a pretty blown away. Most days, I don’t feel old enough to not live with my parents, much less to be playing house in a place that I own with my best friend who I married. What is this life?

I moved into our tiny little condo in a super cool part of Austin in November of 2016 before Jake and I were married the following January. This place is our first home and our first giant leap into adulthood. We’re still learning a lot about taking care of it and what it means to be good stewards of a physical home and at the same time, we’re already looking ahead to home #2.

As much as we love our tiny city bungalow, Jake has a dream to follow that includes owning lots of different kinds of properties throughout the Austin area. It’s a pretty brilliant dream and if we can scramble the money to get it started, I think it’ll really work out.

He’s been reading books and listening to podcasts and learning as much as he can about real estate and even though I can say I’ve bought a home now, I’m still not entirely sure how that happened. All I know is that I basically signed my life away and they handed me keys.

For those who, like me, aren’t sure what the home buying process looks like, I’ve had Jake re-explain it to me. I feel like it’s something we should know as adult-type people so let’s learn together, shall we?*

*For the sake of clarity, this is a very easy purchase I’m describing. Things can get pretty fuzzy with negotiations so let’s just assume your first offer is accepted to make this easier on everyone.

Step 1: Have money

A standard down payment (the money you have to pay immediately upon purchase) is about 10% of the total price plus closing costs (fees for inspections and the company that manages the title transfer). For second homes and on, the down payment is typically 20%. So know what you’re price range is and start saving. Don’t know what your price range is? See Step 2!

Pro Tip from Jake: If you’re willing to manage some risk with a fixer upper, check out a 203K loan. These can lower your down payment to 4% and include the cost of renovation within your mortgage, which is usually something you cannot do.

Step 2: Get more money (Get Pre-Qualified/Pre-Approved)

This is the part where lenders (banks) and mortgage companies look at all the things in your life and tell you what you can afford and what they’re willing to loan you. When I say they look at all the things, I mean all the things. Pull out your W-2s from the last few years along with tax documents and anything you find important because they’ll probably want to see that too.

Pro Tip from Jake: You can start doing this now. Your lender’s list might not match this list exactly, but it helps to know what you’ll need ahead of time.

Step 3: Choose an agent and shop around

Having an agent isn’t technically necessary but it’s definitely helpful. Real Estate agents know the market and they can help you get into the homes you want to see. They’re also super handy to have around if you’re not sure what to offer or if you’re not sure what’s going on with price or contract negotiations. They’re your advocate throughout the buying process so find someone with a good reputation in your area and find your new home!

Step 4: Make an offer

Once you’ve found your dream home, you’ll want to make an offer. If you have an agent, they’ll probably have a good estimate in mind for what you should offer based on all the information they have stored in their noggins about the market, location/size/state of your desired property. They’ll draft a contract with the offer price and any terms that will need to be met for the transaction to be successful and legal (see where things get fuzzy?). Make sure your offer has an option period with enough time for you to schedule an inspector.

Step 5: Secure your mortgage

Once your offer has been approved, you’ll need to fill your lender in on the deets and secure your interest rate. Interest rates can be fixed (meaning you’ll pay the same amount of interest consistently the whole time you pay your mortgage) or adjustable (meaning the interest rate changes over time based on whatever’s happening with the housing market). Generally, you want a fixed interest rate that’s as low as possible.

Step 6: Inspections

As a buyer, you’ll call out someone to inspect the property to make sure there’s no crazy damage you weren’t aware of and generally give you a better idea about what you’re buying. If your inspector suggests upgrades need to be made or lets you know that there’s water damage in the ceiling, this can throw off the contract you’ve negotiated with the seller which takes time to get adjusted in a way that makes all parties happy. During this time, buyers and sellers still have the option to back out of the deal.

Pro Tip from Jake: Make sure you write down everything your inspector says. You’ll likely have things they suggest to get fixed or upgraded. And then maybe not put it off forever like we have.

Step 7: Close

Get ready for your hand to fall off because here’s where you sign your life away. But once you do, and once you hand over that nice big fat down payment check and closing fees, they hand you keys and the whole thing is over. You bought a home!

That’s not too bad to understand, right? Maybe I’ll have it down better for property #2. Have you bought a home? What was most confusing to you about the process? Most fun?