Responsible Pet Ownership Begins With Proper Pet Education — What you should know and what you should ask yourself before adopting.

So you want a new furry family member eh?

That’s great! I hope you are ready for the love, support, and truly live changing experience that only an animal can bring you. But I also hope you are ready for the responsibility, time commitment, piss stains on the carpet, vet bills in the hundreds, sometimes thousands, the training classes, the food expenses, and so on. Adopting a dog is no walk in the park, but it does require many walks in the park to keep that little one from being destructive in your house 😉

*for reference, I will refer to dogs a lot in this piece, but many of the tips, etc. here can be applicable to all animals*

There are some questions you need to ask yourself before bringing a new dog into your life, even if you grew up with animals or have adopted in the past, things can change. The questions to ask yourself listed later in this blog can result in YOU helping the animal shelter crisis by not only educating yourself on proper pet ownership and readiness, but also by hopefully sharing this with others.

Let me preface though….

I’m an animal lover, I have been for as long as I’ve been able to comprehend what those words even mean. I got it from my mama. I grew up in a house that always had multiple animals in it, dogs and cats primarily. In my first 18 years of life we had 2 amazing Golden Retrievers, Oliver and Zoey, and we also “fostered” a third one, Pete, for family friends when their young son was going through cancer. We also had a plethora of cats growing up too. There was Mason, Twinkie, Lizzie, Callie, and Garfield. So yeah, not only was I an animal lover, and not only was my mom an animal lover, our house was essential an animal haven.

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(one of my childhood dogs, Zoey)

Simply being an “animal lover” isn’t the only box that needs to be checked when deciding to adopt an animal. You could be the most passionate animal person in the world, and have all the best intentions, but your 14 hour work day job schedule that also takes you across the country multiple times a month should raise a red flag. Your 2 kids under the age of 3 who like to crawl and pull all over dogs should also raise a red flag. Maybe you LOVE animals but have never owned one, maybe you don’t know the first thing that proper pet care requires, that should raise a red flag. Or maybe you love animals but your spouse doesn’t. That too, should raise a red flag. All of these red flags should be seen as warning signs. A warning that you need to think about the next step you’re going to make. They don’t mean that adopting an animal is completely out of the cards right now, but like with anything in life, red flags should bring you to a temporary halt and allow yourself to think about things further.

If you’re gone 14 hours a day, you’re not fit to get an 8 week old puppy. If your kids love to crawl on dogs, you shouldn’t adopt one who has never been socialized to kids. If you’ve never had an animal of your own before, maybe you shouldn’t get one that is hard headed who also still needs a lot of training and patience. If your spouse doesn’t like animals, maybe you should start with fostering, you know, test the water.

There’s many reasons people should adopt a dog.

And there are also many reasons that people should not.

There’s many reasons why people fail at being fur parents. Many of those reasons can be eliminated by being properly educated prior to taking the plunge.

But I’m not here to judge you, not at all. I know that some people adopt a dog or cat thinking that they are fully ready to do so. They don’t realize all of the hard work, manual labor, and personal finances that stand behind a new animal. They don’t realize that because they’ve seen the glamor of it all.

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(looks easy enough, right?)

Right now, there are millions of animals in high-kill shelters. And more than half of them are on death row if someone doesn’t step in soon to adopt them. There are millions more in no-kill rescues, and those rescues are drowning. Take look at these animals, the ones who are afraid in the shelter, who are now anti-social and depressed. The ones who look like absolute shit, their fur is matted, they smell, they don’t know what a loving hand is. And now imagine the horror they’ve been through only to be discarded like yesterday’s trash. That’s why they appear so bleak and sad on the surface, because they are. Now, this may be true for some, if not the majority of those animals, but not all. There are beautiful dogs in shelters and rescues. And you know what, all of those sad and dingy animals we just talked about? They turn into the most beautiful and often times most loving animals! It’s all about giving them a second chance…. at life.

It’s true. People hurt dogs, people discard them because they are ignorant and stupid. But no matter how mad this makes me, I can’t help but believe that those numbers of animals in shelters and rescues will decrease if the human race became more educated before choosing to adopt an animal.

Instead of judging people who give up their animal for various reasons. They’re moving, their kids don’t get along with them, they’re allergic, etc. Try to find a different approach to this. Trust me, I’ve judged and still want to judge many of those situations. But the more I work in no-kill animal rescue, the more I am able to see between the lines.

While excuses are often times exactly that…. excuses. There are times where lack of proper pet education is what causes the gut wrenching decision to surrender a dog.

There are times where lack of proper pet education leaves a family drowning with thoughts of “I don’t know what to do”, “I can’t train this puppy”, “I’m afraid I made a mistake”, “this is not as easy as it was supposed to be”.

There are times where proper pet education could have been the difference between a family being prepared for the lifelong commitment of a pet, and giving up on it too soon.

PET EDUCATION 101:

When, where, who, and why?

The decisions to make before adopting a pet.

 

WHEN

is the right time for you (and your family) to bring a furry friend into the home?

Your kids have been begging you for 3 years to get a pet, or you’re mourning the loss of your family dog 1 year ago, or you are finding yourself alone in a new city. You suddenly have the urge to get a dog, I mean your best friend got one and it is going swimmingly for her.

Here’s what you need to further consider:

Are you caving? You’re sick of your kids constantly asking you for a dog, and quite frankly you just want to make them happy and shut them up at the same time. You’ve interacted with dogs before, and so have they, why wouldn’t now be the right time?

Between you and your spouses work schedules and each of your 3 kids being in a different sport, you are essentially only at home for dinner time and bed time (and sometimes not even dinner). If you’re gone consistently from the home for more than 8-9 hours a day, you need to consider the fact that your furry family member will not only be alone for that long, but will also potentially be in a kennel for that long. Further more, leaving the dog alone for that long will result in lack of proper socialization and training, which in turn can lead to frustrating moments between you and him. He could behave wildly when you get home because he’s got so much energy built up, is excited to finally see you, and oh yeah, he’s realllllly got to go to the bathroom. Not to mention he hasn’t had a chance to be properly trained, so the jumping will begin, potential barking, oh and sometimes he just might get the zoomies and as a result knock something off of the table, or worse knock your littlest child clean off her feet. To be fair, this will be no fault to the dog, he’s just excited to see you, he’s got energy to burn and no better knowledge of how to properly behave. So you get frustrated, and as a result, finally realize that your family doesn’t have the time to put the effort into your dog, so you surrender him to the pound, leaving him confused, alone, and sad. All of which could have been avoided had you realized and decided long ago in the decision making process that your family just does not have the time to commit.

Mourning an old dog is one of the realest and rawest emotions you can feel. But before you dive into another one, consider how your life is different NOW vs. THEN.

What has changed? Are you busier with work, do you now have children, are you in a different city with different potty training barriers, etc? The last time you got a dog might have been 10+ years ago. You could have been living with your parents still and therefore had help potty training. Or maybe you adopted an older dog who didn’t need any training. Maybe you had more flexible work hours to let the dog out on your lunch break. Does your current job make you travel for work? If so, how long are you gone for and do you have someone who can watch the dog responsibly when you leave? Have you moved to a bigger city and into an apartment on the 10th floor with little potty training access? On the plus side, things now could be an even better bring-a-new-dog-into-your-life scenario. You could have more time, more help, a larger yard, easier access to training, etc. but they are still all factors that need to be taken into consideration. Saying yes to some of the barriers above might not mean not getting a dog at all, but it might alter the age, breed, and personality traits of a new dog you might be adopting.

Will getting a dog truly fix your feeling of loneliness?

Dogs, in my opinion, are hands down the greatest companion. So it is easy, especially for dog lovers, to turn to the idea of adopting one when they are feeling alone. But all of the factors previously mentioned, especially the time commitment, need to be considered even more if you are about to make this decision as a result of one very strong emotion, may it be sadness, loneliness, self-pity, etc, that is clouding your judgement. Allow yourself to think on it, ask a friend or parent for some advice. And then, if you truly are ready, be prepared for the greatest companion ever.

Here’s a simple, yet tough question: do you really want a dog?

This one sounds silly, but it happens more often than you realize. To some people, adopting a dog is a trend. Their family and friends have dogs, who you generally get along with when you see them. You see the dogs that are fully trained and think “how hard can this be”. Or maybe your new flame likes dogs, and therefore, you jump on board with the idea because well, you want this new relationship to work. Your kids might want a dog, but do you?

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WHERE

Are you going to adopt from? Have you done your research?

Whether you are hard set on rescuing or hard set on adopting from a breeder, there is still research that needs to be done on both ends.

Rescue:

from a no-kill rescue organization or from a high-kill animal shelter? Here are the pros and cons of both:

Rescue (no-kill organization that relies heavily on fosters):

  • You are helping an organization that pulls animals out of the high-kill shelters or saves them from terrible living conditions (PRO).
  • You have a higher chance of getting paired with a dog that is a perfect fit for your family due to adoption screening processes (PRO).
  • There are fewer dogs available due to their reliance on fosters, most of the time, and the fact that most are run strictly by volunteers, and therefore don’t have as readily available resources to hold more dogs (CON).

Shelters (high-kill, generally. Where people can just dump their dogs at *sigh*):

  • By adopting an animal from a shelter, you are clearing that kennel out for another one to come, therefore saving an animals life somewhere along the line from the doom of euthanasia due to overcrowding (PRO).
  • More animals to choose from, including many breeds (PRO).
  • The animals rescued from here, seem to know that they are rescued the moment you set foot in front of their kennel (PRO).
  • The match-making skills plus the true personality of the animal can be sometimes unknown and unpredictable until you get home with them (CON).

Regardless of the route chosen in the realm of rescue, research still needs to be done. Just last week I read a news story on a man who got charged with 117 counts of animal cruelty…. All in the animal SHELTER he ran! Not all rescues and not all shelters are run with compassion and love. Make sure you do your research, ask around, ask for a tour of the facility first, and most importantly read reviews on the web.

Where to start your research?

  • Google “animal shelters in ____ city” or “animal rescues in ____ city” and if you’re looking for a specific breed you can search “Golden Retriever Rescue in ___” for example.
  • Click on each shelter or rescue as it comes up in Google and click on the reviews section, read them all, especially the bad ones. Get a feel of it the bad reviews were left by just a generally disgruntled person who didn’t get what they wanted (likely because they were unfit to own a dog) or if there is a common theme among many reviews.
  • Go to each website. Is it up to date, does it have good quality, is it legit?
  • Once you’ve narrowed your search down, physically go to your top 3 locations, if possible, and trust your gut feeling once you’re there.

 

BREEDER:

You might be thinking, oh this one is easy, I’ll just find the nearest breeder to me, and at the cheapest price, and I’ll have myself a full bred ____!

WRONG.

The research required in the area of animal breeders needs to be much more in depth than that of rescues. Simply because backyard breeders exist in massive numbers, and if they’re “good” and “experienced” in backyard breeding, then they are experts at covering up their tracks and coming off as angelic people who love dogs and truly care for them.  I suggest you do some deep digging if getting a dog from a breeder is the route you decide to take (although I hope you highly consider rescue first!).

The Humane Society has outlined some good tips, which I will lay out below, on how to spot a responsible and credible breeder, but if you want to read further into their input and advice, you can do so here.

How to tell if a breeder is a responsible, caring, and reputable breeder:

  • They let you visit, play with, sit with, and get to know all of the puppies
  • The puppies appear to be well groomed and excited to meet you and play
  • The living area for the dogs seems to be well kept and nothing appears to raise any  red flags
  • They breed one specific breed, or a few at most (vs. any breed that crosses their mind or has a backyard full of many types of breeds)
  • Has a list of interested people or a waiting list for puppies, because they don’t always have puppies readily available, meaning they don’t crank out puppies
  • Is well respected by a local veterinarian and has a good relationship with them
  • Knows the background of the puppy and can provide information on the parents and grandparents as well as the genetic and health risks of the breed
  • Can provide tips and guidance on proper training and how to find training courses
  • Provides you with a written contract

A responsible breeder will also want to get to know you, the reason behind why you want a dog, make sure your whole family is on board with it, and any other questions applicable that might help them determine if you will be a responsible pet owner.

*above information is quoted from The Humane Society 

If you are talking with a breeder who doesn’t meet many, or all, of the criteria above, you should look further. And if it is a glaringly obvious backyard breeding situation, get in contact with your local authorities, save those dogs that are ‘living’ there!

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(this is Timo, a full-bred English Creme Golden Retriever that my volunteer organization, TGRR, has in our care. He came from a terrible backyard breeding situation, which has scarred him for life)

WHO

will take care of the dog?

This might sound like a no-brainer, but it is a very serious question. Often times, people get suckered into getting a dog because their family wants one and crosses their heart, hope to die, that they will help take care of the dog. But when it comes time to take care of the dog, the promises often don’t hold up. Make sure you have a serious talk with your family members about the needs of the dog and what proper care looks like. Then, once everyone understand what care looks like, determine if the promises to care for it will hold up. Otherwise, the one person who didn’t fully want the animal in the first place will end up with the responsibility, which can often lead to resentment toward the dog, or worse.

On the other hand, if all members of the family do in fact want to adopt a dog, the question here becomes, who is available to give it the care it needs? Is there time in each of your daily schedules to feed it, let it out, walk it, and train it? Adopting a dog goes farther than just wanting it and knowing what proper care looks like, it’s being available to responsibly care for it.

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(Our first dog, Otto, during one of our daily 5AM potty breaks. Because this is reality people. If you get a puppy, they WILL need to go out once if not 2-3 times per night, as well as nearly every hour during the day. It’s just a part of potty training. Do YOU have time for this?)

WHY 

Do you want to adopt a dog?

The question you should ask yourself first, before/ with the when, where, and who. But also ask it again at the end of your decision making process, to make sure you still have the same reason for wanting to adopt. If your answer to WHY isn’t a resounding “yes! I want this NOW! It will change my life, make me happy, fulfill a broken piece of my soul” then my friend, it might be a good idea to wait.

After going through the when, where, who, and why, you are more sure than ever that you WANT TO ADOPT!

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So what’s next?

Make sure you are prepared for some of the “unexpected”. Here are some of the things that blindsided us when we got our first dog, and that I see blindside other people when they get their first pet.

The vet bills

People will tell you “owning a pet is expensive” to which you will reply “I know”. NO, you don’t! Trust me! I thought it was going to be oh, $50ish bucks per vet visit and a few extra dollars for food each month, but….. I. Was. WRONG.

Firstly, the larger the dog, the more expensive everything is.

Secondly, don’t be fooled by puppy prices, they’re SMALL then, remember?!

Here’s what we pay per dog of ours (one weighs 65 lbs, the other weights 80 lbs)

  • One bag of dog food, that last 1 month, per dog: $37
  • One round of annual shots: $175 (for the most recent visit)
  • Heartworm preventive (purchased in a 6 month supply): $47
  • Flea and tick preventive (purchased in a 3 month supply): $57

The cost for the bare minimum (food, vet, preventive medicine) for ONE dog per year is: $723

But wait, here are other expenses you might not realize:

  • Dog bowls: $20 each (don’t forget you need one for water and food)
  • Boarding (for vacation): $30 (ish) per day, per dog (depending on where you go). Say you go on a 5 day vacation: $150
  • Dog bed: $30
  • Dog crate (needed for training): $30-60+
  • Puppy training school (a 6-8 week course for the basics): $80-$120

And because no dog is ever perfect, consider the emergency vet bills. Because I keep good tabs of my dumbass (but actually really smart dog), here is the breakdown of all of the emergency trips within the first 2 years of his life:

  • Ate my shoe strings: $400
  • Ate the rubber ring on the water dish: $520
  • Sickness for we don’t know what: $441
  • Ate 12 dog “boots”: $320

Total emergency vet visits (not to mention the cost of other events where items needed replacing): $1,681. That’s just from ONE dog.

Maybe you’ve read this far and don’t actually want a dog, maybe you want a cat. The madness does not stop there my friend. Our $20 “budget kitty” has cost us:

  • Ear infection: $426
  • Blocked bladder/ kidney stones: $1,800
  • Total: $2,226

Proper training

An important topic, because without it, families and owners get frustrated that their dog hasn’t turned into the “angel, cuddle bug of a dog” they expected which can turn to surrendering the dog to the local shelter.

If you want your dog to be potty trained, you have to commit to it. And commit longer than 1 month. It took our first dog about 3-4 months to get “relatively potty trained” but even by the time he was 10 months old and pretty trustworthy, he literally took a shit in the middle of a crowd of people hanging in our living room. Talk about a party pooper.

If you want your dog to be obedient, you have to train it. If going to puppy school isn’t in your budget or schedule, you better be researching self-help training books or youtube videos to work with. And then, commit to working on some skill every single day of the week. Repetition works.

If you want your dog to get along with others (dogs, cats, kids, people), you need to commit to socializing them at a young age. If, on the other hand, you adopt a rescue who is already not good with any of the above, then you need to respect that and not put them at risk of getting into it with anything or anyone they don’t like.

If you want your dog to be anything, do anything, behave a certain way, then that is on YOU and not THEM. They are not mind readers, but most will do anything for a treat and an extra belly rub. So use that to your advantage, show them the love they  deserve and thrive off of.

The Time Commitment

Coming from someone who has only ever been a dog mom, and not a human child mom, this might be an inaccurate assumption, but I’m going to say it anyway. The time commitment that dog’s require is similar to that of a human child. It’s not as easy as getting a dog, locking it in it’s kennel, and continuing on with your partying or crazy busy life. I mean, I guess it could be that easy, only if you’re a piece of shit.

When considering the time commitment for this new furry family member consider all of the following:

  • Late night potty break wake up calls (and I mean like 2AM, 4AM, something of that sort, especially with a young dog)
  • Early morning breakfast feeding wake up calls (our dog is 4 years old and still tells us that anything past 6:30 is indeed too late)
  • Training the dog (as previously mentioned) only works if YOU put the time into it. Factor in the time it takes to drive to training, to be AT training, and the time you need to work on it together when at home.
  • Vet visits, are just like doctor visits, they take time out of your regularly scheduled day. And they operate on normal working hours too, so be prepared to have to adjust your work schedule to take them to the vet for sure once a year, but likely more because well, everything in life is unpredictable, including your dog!
  • Socialization, as previously mentioned is important. You need to be ready to budget time into your weeks to get your dog out of the house, take them to a park, the store, a friends house, etc. Anything beyond sitting in the comfort of your home is good for stimulation of your dog and will result in your dog being better behaved around other animals and humans.
  • The unknown. Something always comes up, be prepared to roll with the punches of it when it does!

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Is it lot to consider? Absolutely

Is it a potential risk, new life jump, a big change? Without a doubt.

But is there a lot of potential love & happiness to gain? 100%

At the end of the day, know that a new furry member of your family always comes with more baggage than a basic chick flying to Coachella for the weekend. There’s A LOT to consider. I hope that you take some serious time to research, talk with your family or friends, think it through yourself. And then, when you’re ready. Be prepared, because your life will never be the same. But be patient, open your heart, open your home.

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A checklist to download, save, take with you, and share with friends!

A dog-readiness

 

From one dog lover to (hopefully) another,

Thanks for reading!

If there is someone in your life who you feel....

isn't fully prepared for a dog

or maybe not educated enough.

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How Do You Know It’s Time For a Change….?

One week from today I am leaving my job of two years to pursue a whole new direction on my career. I’m excited to say the least, and so ready for a change. But this decision came to a surprise to some people, to which I got the question:

“how did you know you were ready for a change?”

To the person who asked me this, I can only assume that you are trying to figure out if it is a time for you to make a change somewhere in your life. The easiest answer I have to that?

If you are questioning whether or not it is time to make a change, then it is, without a doubt, TIME FOR A CHANGE!

But this isn’t about you, right? You want to know how I knew it was time for a change.

The short story?

I knew it deep in my bones.

The long story?

Two years ago I started my job, it was a new spin on what I had been doing in my career so far. I work in fitness and up until 2 years ago, I had worked as a personal trainer and group exercise instructor as my main gig for the first 4 years of my fitness career. Well, throw in a little bit of management at a small group ex studio too. It is what I knew for 4 years. Wake up, go to the gym bright as early, train a client (or get cancelled on) then teach a few classes, train a few more clients, and drive home. Was it glamorous? Not one bit. Did I love it? Most days, but not all. But it is what I knew, I was monotonous in my day to day. Move me here to North Carolina and all of a sudden I’m taking a new role, this time in corporate fitness. My responsibilities were to include managing an onsite fitness center for the employees of the bank (where I work) to workout at. I could go into more detail on what my day to day looked like, but that’s beside the point.

My first point?

Is that way back then, 2 years ago, I took on a BIG CHANGE. And even now, 2 years later, I’m taking on another big change. I knew back then that a change was needed, and I knew now that a big change was needed. How? Because I believe that change is an instrumental part of life. It is unavoidable, and if we can create the change ourselves, then we can be a lot more excited about it. 

And I was excited. Until I wasn’t.

The whole new exciting change of career slowly became something that I was no longer excited about. I felt underutilized in so many ways. I’m a busy-bee and go-getter by nature. So sitting in that gym, alone for many hours, because all of my members were working upstairs at their desks started to drain on me. Being bored in a job is one thing, but not having the ability to continuously tap into my potential to grow and learn, that got to me.

I knew I had more to offer, so I wanted to find a way to OFFER IT. That is how I knew I needed a change.

If you’re feeling stuck- in your job, relationship, etc.

If you know you have more to offer.

If you feel a new passion burning inside of you.

If you are going through the same motions day to day without any sparkle.

if you haven’t experienced a new change in awhile

If you’re questioning if it is time for a change.

Well friend, then it IS time for a change!

Chase the change. Embrace it. A don’t give up on it.

I knew I wanted a change, I knew I was ready for it (as ready as a person can be to flip their life upside down), and I knew that I deserved it. So when I got to my 70th application for a new job, and crickets were still chirping on that one plus all of the other 69 applications sent in prior, I wanted to give up. Oh believe me, I dreamed of quitting and moving to an island for a few months to recollect. But that’s not feasible. The only thing that had to happen, was for me to keep moving forward. One email, one click of the mouse, one new cover letter at a time. I didn’t give up. No matter how many frustrated tears I spent, or how many un-published blogs I wrote out of anger (and they never will be 😉 ), or how defeated I felt on some days, I kept charging forward. I didn’t give up. Because I knew I owed a lot more to myself than to give up.

Change is necessary. In fact, change is inevitable. Sometimes you need to chase it down, sometimes it will slap you in the face. Don’t ignore it, embrace it.

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One final food for thought.

Think of all of the change you’ve invited into your life so far. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that we have done this before, and that we were able to handle it and grow stronger from it, and hopefully in most cases, become happier from it. Having trouble thinking of all of your change? Consider all of my change in the first 26 years of my life to help trigger your memory.

  • 6 years old- moved to a new city
  • 12 years old- tried out for cheerleading (a life changing move)
  • 17 years old- got my first job
  • 18 years old- went to community college
  • 19 years old- moved 3.5 hours away from home to go to a D1 university
  • 19 years old- met my now husband
  • 19-20 years old- dabbled in being a sorority and then trying out for my college cheerleading squad
  • 20 years old- began fitness career working as a personal trainer on campus
  • 22 years old- graduated college
  • 22 years old- got my first management position
  • 22 years old- also got an internship at a hospital and met my lifelong best friend
  • 22 years old- geeze a big year for me, adopted my first dog
  • 23 years old- moved 1000 miles across country with my then boyfriend, now husband, and our 3 animals
  • 23 years old- got a job at Orangetheory Fitness
  • 24 years old- got my corporate fitness job
  • 25 years old- bought a freaking beach condo (hello huge risk! but hey, embrace the change and the challenge)
  • 26 years old- accepted the new job I’m beginning in a week and a half.

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Change is happening all around us. Don’t be blinded by it. See it, embrace it, take charge.

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In health,

Carly B

HOW TO: Stay Healthy in College- a 6 step process

Woah, broad category eh?

But a highly, highly, HIGHLY demanded topic.

College is just friggin rough sometimes.

And then you’re expected to eat healthy and workout?

WOAH, hold the phone. You think there’s time for that?

Not to mention the mental, social, emotional health that needs some TLC too.

We’ll get there eventually sweets, but for now, let’s talk about eating right and fitting exercise into your college routine.

You ready? Okay, grab a pen and paper, and maybe a map of your college campus so we can get to planning.

 

Step 1: Set G O A L S

needs-some-inspirations-for-keeping-your-new-year-resolutions_-these-awesome-motivational-quotes-will-push-you-forward-towards-your-goals.jpeg

You will get literally nowhere with a blank slate. Just like you will get literally nowhere with an empty gas tank. You have to know where you want to be in order to start. You’ve got that pen and paper right in front of you right?

Thought so, now grab that pen and write down 3 specific goals right now:

 

  1. One pertaining to how many days and hours per week you want to exercise. Make it something realistic, something you can achieve week after week. 90 minutes in the gym 4-6 days a week is overzealous for a college student, for the majority (hey, maybe you’re not in that majority, but chances are if you aren’t, then you’ve already got your plan locked down and the discipline to go with it)
  2. A second one pertaining to the biggest 3 things you need to focus on in your nutrition to stay on track. Is it adequate water, less snacking, less binge drinking, more veggies, not skipping meals?
  3. A third one about how frequently you’re going to check in with yourself to stay on track. Are you going to sit down every Sunday and reflect on the previous week, maybe every other Sunday? Are you going to check in using a food tracking app? Are you going to rely on your FitBit to record your workouts, and have them in a place to look back on easily? Set a goal to check in yourself consistently.

Step 2: Know your college campus

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For the most part, college campuses are set up to help you freaking THRIVE in being healthy. The hard part, is you’re busy. I know, I get it.

The first and easiest way your campus will help you stay healthy and active is the ability to walk places. Sure, some places are just too far, but don’t automatically hop in your car or on the bus if you don’t have to. A 10-minute walk is not too far, I encourage you to opt for that walk! Not only will you be moving your body after hours sitting in class, the fresh air will give you chance to take some purposeful deep breaths and clear your head.

Do you eat on campus?

If so, you might be vastly underutilizing potentially your greatest tool yet. Unless your campus cafe is the equivalent of prison food, then you likely have some good options! Hell, if you’re eating on campus, then that means you’re paying some pretty good money per semester to eat that food, so take. advantage. Chances are there’s a salad bar on campus, UTILIZE THAT! Elsewhere in the community, or the grocery store, salads can sometimes be the most costly thing, so get full bang for your buck while eating on campus! You don’t have to strictly eat salads at each meal but you can always, always, always opt for a side salad to go with your sandwich, or hell, even pizza of the day. Think about all of the added nutrients you will get by adding a side salad in to even one meal per day while eating on campus?

Bonus tip: if your campus cafe offers unique breakfast options, such as made-to-order omelet or sandwiches, throw veggies on that too! Don’t stick to the basics, switch it up! See how many different ways you can vary veggies into your meal. Don’t feel like a bother for asking to add peppers, mushrooms, lettuce, etc to any omelet, burger, sandwich, etc. If it’s an option, use it!

Not to mention, many campuses are now getting on board with the gluten free, dairy free, vegan, etc. trends. Not to say that everyone needs to opt for those options, but they are more readily available.

And if you live off of campus, I suggest buying a small meal package for days when you end up being on campus longer than expected. Hopping over to the dining hall for a meal will 9 times out of 10 leave you with better options than getting home later and crankier than expected and throwing a frozen pizza in the oven and ending up eating it all.

And how about the campus gym(s)?

Yes, I said gyms. Chances are, your main campus gym is not the only option. I know plenty of campuses that have ‘satellite’ gyms, you just might not know it yet! Look at that campus map, is there anything indicating that there might be a smaller, lesser used gym elsewhere on campus? Generally, these satellite gyms are in different parts of campus, and much smaller, but still fully equipped for the most part! These come in handy especially for those of you who’s classes are all generally on the opposite side of campus than the main gym. So look for the extra options!

Speaking of extra options….

Sometimes there are even clubs that host “workout events” in the middle of campus. Say, Zumba on the lawn, or a boot camp outside of the gym. I can guarantee something like that exists on your campus, you just have to look! Plus, what a neat way to meet more people!

Step 3: Schedule your workouts as another “can’t miss class” on your schedule

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I get it, your schedule is packed. You have back to back classes, and you just can’t miss them. So why can you “skip the gym” so easily? Because it isn’t on your regular schedule, that’s why.

Look at your schedule, do you see a 30-60 minute gap in your day where you otherwise would scroll social media or stare aimlessly into an abyss of who knows what? Pencil in “go to the gym” during that time! Do it!

Okay, I know your next excuse, “my campus gym is not open during that time” Okay, fair. So instead, schedule in “lunch” or “work on homework” during that time, that way you have more time in the latter part of your day to pencil in “go to gym”.

Next excuse? it still doesn’t fit my schedule. Alright, well even though you are paying for your campus gym with your tuition, there are still other options. You can get a good workout in in your apartment, or even in your dorm! Yes, you can. There are common spaces within dorm buildings that you can use. Grab a buddy, find an online program or hell, turn to Pinterest (I’ve even got some handmade workouts pinned to my Pinterest Board here) , and use that common space like it’s your own apartment! I saw this happen on my college dorm and you know what happened? More and more people joined the workout party! Don’t feel weird for utilizing that common space to make yourself better, healthier, stronger, and happier. Feel proud! Show others that it is possible for them too!

Regardless of how to spin it, the workout needs to be on your schedule. 4-5 times a week, it needs to be on your schedule. And don’t forget a weekend day, that might be your best time to utilize all that your campus gym has to offer! Plus, sweat out the weekend booze you are inevitably going to drink.

Step 4: Understand that Knowledge is Power

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If you’re new to your health and fitness journey, then you’re still learning. I encourage you to read articles weekly to help educate you on how to pick healthier options at your campus cafe. Or how to choose exercises that match your current skill level, and then beyond that, how to find exercise that you enjoy.

The most important knowledge will come from learning how to not fall prey to marketing ploys such as fat burning pills, extreme diets, or purchasing workouts or nutrition coaching from unqualified people.

To educate yourself I suggest you start with easy to read articles such as those on MyFitnessPal’s blog, or from Ace Resource Articles. 

Step 5: Buddy Up!

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Seriously, this makes a world of difference. Find a friend on campus who is committed to beginning, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Or, join an “athletic club” or something of the sort to find like-minded people. And when all else fails, find someone from afar- maybe a family member or friend who doesn’t go to your school, to hold you accountable via text, call, or email communication. This works because we are much more likely to hold ourselves accountable when we know others are watching. And we are even more likely to hold ourselves accountable to help others in their endeavors too.

Step 6: Recognize that your excuses are just that: bullshit excuses that will get you nowhere.

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Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day.

But not everyone uses them equally or to their full potential.

If it’s important to you, you’ll find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse

 

Oh and don’t forget to drink your water friend 😉 Aim for .5-1 ounce of water per lb of bodyweight!

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Give yourself 21 days to make your 3 goals set in step #1 a habit.

After all, many research studies have shown that it indeed takes 21 days to make something a habit. But news flash that doesn’t mean 21 half-ass days. Nor does it mean a 21 day period where you might have somewhat stuck to your goals for a good 15 days, but slipped up for 6. No, you need to give yourself TRUE AND COMMITTED 21 days to make it a habit. After that? Give yourself an additional 90 days to see how it affects YOU. If you set specific enough goals, and if you do things right, chances are that at the end of 90 days you not only will feel proud of yourself, but likely also more refreshed and energize, despite being bogged down by homework and a hectic schedule.

Nothing worth having comes easy. So give yourself time. At the end of 90 days, check in with those goals and tweak them as need be. Then give yourself another 90 day period to work at those refreshed goals. Another 90 days to continue working for yourself. Then repeat that cycle over and over and over again. These kind of goals that affect you and your life are not the kind of goals that have an end date. They are always evolving, just like you. These short-term goals turn into long-term success and long-term well being.

You’ve got this.

But only if you convince yourself that you do!

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Need further help?

Or someone to chat to?

Reach out to me!

Instagram: @lifeofcarlyb_

Email: lifeofcarlyb@gmail.com 

Subscribe to my EMAIL LIST HERE.

Should You Use a Seating Chart For Your Wedding?

Just one more item that you need to check off of your to-do list, or shall we call it “decision list”?

A seating chart for your guests at the wedding- yay or nay?

Ultimately, it comes down to preference, and there is never a right or wrong answer. 

But let me tell you about my experience.

We did a seating chart, and here’s why.

A couple years before our wedding, we went to a wedding where we knew practically no one. I knew the bride, my then boyfriend – now husband had maybe met her once or twice prior. So yeah, that qualifies as knowing pretty much no one. The reception was held in this grand room with tables surround a big dance floor. And there were A LOT of tables, but to be fair there were also a lot of guests.

Picture this: we walk into this grand room and look around at not only all of the tables, but all of the people mingling around them who knew each other and were catching up like old friends (because they were). We looked at each other like “now what”. We didn’t know where to sit, there was no guidance. So we chose a table that had yet to be claimed and we sat there, assuming that at least a few other people would fill the remaining 8 chairs at the table.

The most awkward part? People looked at those empty chairs, and then at us, and realized they didn’t know us so they kept walking. In my opinion, there was nothing that eluded to the fact that we could have been saving those chairs for someone, not one bit. We consider ourselves to be very friendly and outgoing people, and we had hoped that someone would fill those chairs so we weren’t left looking like a couple of Steven Glansberg (a Superbad reference, a kid who eats alone at lunch). But nonetheless, no one sat down. Oh, hello, Steven Glansberg #1 and #2. It was awkward.

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Two plus years later when it came time to plan our wedding, I knew without a doubt that I wanted a seating chart. Did my mom agree at first? No, not quite. But here are the PROS, and the reasons why I think having a seating chart is necessary (although more work on YOU, but more beneficial to everyone later on)

  • You’ll have no Steven Glansberg’s at the wedding
  • You can help facilitate new friendships
  • No one comes looking for you in a frenzy asking your opinion on where to sit. They read the board, the cards, or whatever, and know where to go
  • It’s cheaper!

Without a seating chart you have to account for 2 or more extra tables because although you’d like to think everyone would just fill in all of the chairs, they won’t, and there will be tables leftover with empty chairs (like ours). So say you have 180 guests coming, you’ll need enough tables and chairs to seat 200+. And yes, that also includes the extra linens, silverware, etc. that you’ll have to buy or rent to go with those extra chairs.

Let me just finish by saying….

Do a little extra effort yourself up front, to avoid annoying and frequently asked questions on your wedding day (OmG, like WHERE do i SiT?!?!) and also save people the embarrassment of watching people look at the them and then deliberately not sit with them like a bunch of high school cliques.

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My one extra tip, is to be an over-planner and over-organizer with the seating chart, and relay that information in the clearest possible way to whoever is setting up the tables. I say this because I had to split my extended family into multiple tables (my family is large) but the idea was that they would be in 3 tables in a triangle with each other. Well, the layout of the tables got screwed up (even though I used this online platform where you literally place the tables, the head table, the cake, etc. where you want) and so one of the tables ended up clear on the other side of the room. My mom was like “why did you put X,Y,Z so far from everyone else?” Well mom, they weren’t supposed to be.

Plan, organize, plan, execute.

Happy wedding planning!

Got additional questions for a recent bride-in-planning?

Holla at me!

lifeofcarlyb@gmail.com

Instagram @lifeofcarlyb_

Or check out recent wedding related posts here:

"to the girl planning her wedding"

"the one thing I wish I would have done on my wedding day"

Is your check engine light on?

I’m talking about YOU.

YOUR check engine light.

The engine that needs tending to is your mind, your body, your spirit.

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Maybe you don’t ever think about checking in with yourself like you would your car. Or maybe you know you need to, but you just….. don’t. 

Recently, I had a conversation with someone I work with about taking better care of herself, and that meant learning how to start saying no. I felt confident in giving her this kind of advice because just a short 8 months ago is when I had this epiphany myself.

You’ve likely heard it before from other people… “Take care of yourself first” “you’re going to burn out” “you’re overloading yourself” and yadayadayada. And you might believe the words your family or friends are telling you. You might even see them as warning signs. But you believe in yourself and your resiliency more. So you keep going.

9 times out of 10 it will take some major life event, or some major breakdown for you to have the same epiphany as I did. And only then will you truly see that check engine light for what it is. A cry for help that is long overdue. 

As I was texting back and forth with this coworker, she said to me:

“You’re so right. Such a hard thing to learn, especially when you’re young and everyone says ‘put your head down and grind it out’ “

And that’s exactly it. So many other people preach to be busy. They preach to grind grind grind with no rest, because while you’re resting someone else is working. We are told to try new things, say yes to everything because the moment we say no is the moment further opportunities cease to exist. We are told that we’re not experienced enough yet, but if we keep working for it, we might just get there. So head down, laser in the focus, and get to work. Who cares if your plate is overloaded. There’s no rest for the wicked.

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But here’s the thing. 

You can rest. Will other people put more hours of work in than you? Yes. Will other people work tirelessly for years on end with no quit? Yes. Will those people ever tell you that they too, are burned out? No. Because they too are being fed the same “grind it out, no rest” bullshit.

The difference between you, as a person who has learned to say “no”, and those people who you might admire that don’t ever say no is the quality of the work you put in.

When you say no to things that might only feed your soul temporarily, you leave room for the opportunities that fill your soul to the brim. You’ll become more excited about your work or tasks at hand because what you have chosen to say YES to is what you truly LOVE TO DO. You’ll be putting in your very best to those few yes items, while those around you might be only putting half effort into too many yes items and not enough no’s.

That same friend of mine said later in our conversation “I can’t have it all”. To which I replied, you CAN, you just can’t have it all at 110%.

Some things require 110%.

Other things you mistake for needing 110% because when you don’t give them 110% is when you are letting other people down. And that’s the problem. If someone else wants something to be 110%, you’re not required to put 110% in for the both of you. Let the other person make up the slack. You don’t have to dismiss the job, the duty, the relationship, etc from your life completely, just know it isn’t all up to you to fill it to 110%. or even 110%

Remember kids, you can’t pour from an empty cup. Fill your cup first.

you can be a good person with a kind heart and still say no

It’s not up to you to please everyone else.

It’s not up to you to clear other people’s plates so they can feel relieved while you overload your own plate.

It’s not up to you to make sure that any besides yourself is feeling alive, is feeding their goals, is on track to greatness.

The only thing that is up to you is YOU and how you choose to live each day.

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So let’s say it again….

The moment you start saying “no” to things that don’t truly matter and won’t positively impact you, and start saying “yes” to yourself is the moment everything will change.

Not only will you be happier, because you will be less stressed. Your mood will lift, you’ll be more productive because you aren’t weighed down as much. You will think clearer, move with more efficiency and purpose. You will be a well oiled machine! And THOSE are the kind of machines that we need working. Those are the kind of engines that get you to your desired destination.

Empty tanks.

Engines with rusty old fuel.

Machines that are falling apart.

They will never work. They will never compare to the well oiled machine.

And you my friend, YOU’RE the machine.

And you’re the only machine that you need to focus on.

Because the other machines around you that appear to be well oiled and fully functioning, probably have deep issues far beneath the hood.

And to be completely transparent my friends, this is something I still work on daily. Is it true that I had an “epiphany” about 8 months ago that told me to chill out? Yes. But at the same time, grinding it out, helping others, loading my plate has been something I was proud to do for the past 8 years. It will take time to find the perfect balance. The hardest thing for me right now isn’t saying no, it’s the feeling of needing to justify why I am saying no. And that simply isn’t something that needs to happen. Saying no is a singular person’s decision, it impacts just one person, and YOU are that singular person. Not everyone needs to know your motives. So as I go on, I’ll keep saying yes to the blessings and no to the rest. And when I say no, I need to just leave it at that. To all my family, friends, and co-workers reading this, I hope you understand <3.

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you are not required to set yourself on fire to keep other people warm

Fill your cup.

Fill it.

 

Thanks for reading!

Do you too, feel like your check engine light is on?

Let's talk this one out

Email me at lifeofcarlyb@gmail.com

Or find me on Instagram @lifeofcarlyb_

Peace, love, happiness, and FREEDOM

❤ Carly B

The One Thing I Wish I Would Have Done on My Wedding Day

Take. it. all. in.

Five minutes of uninterrupted silence with my new husband.

Watching everyone from a birds eye view.

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People say it all the time, to take it all in on your wedding day. You think “duh, why wouldn’t I do that?!” But regardless, it’s the advice everyone tells you leading up to the big day.

But what they fail to explain is what they really mean when they say to take it all in.

I remember going up to my husband at least 3 times during our wedding and putting my hands on his shoulders to look him straight in the eye and say “this is our reminder to take it all in“. And looking back, the whole night was still a blur! It’s not that we weren’t taking it all in, I mean we were! We just weren’t taking it all in as just the two of us. Instead, we stayed in the midst of it all, center stage, life of the party, so we took it in as us and 150 other people. And that’s how the night blurs together. The alcohol didn’t have much of a factor in that, especially in the earlier hours, and yet we still got pictures back from our photographer where I’m like wtf when did that happen?! (Thank goodness for photographers and videographers though! If you don’t have one booked for your wedding then you are sorely fooling yourself).

Here’s the truth. The day goes by both slow and lightning speed fast, and there are moments you can’t decipher between the two speeds. But before you know it, it’s over, and you’re sitting there the next morning with the biggest smile on your face with your new spouse, trying to piece together parts of the night.

So take it all in my friend.

Set an alarm on your phone.

And when that goes off, make sure no excuse, no matter how big, can hold you back from grabbing your new husband or wife to get away together for 5 quiet minutes together with a bottle of champagne.

If you can, find a birds eye view to watch everyone who gathered there today for you, everyone who you love, mingle together having the best time.

And if it’s your style, take a quick 10 second video of all that action.

And then put the phones away and anything else that can serve as a distraction and just sit there. Together. Breathe deeply. and take. it. all. in.

 

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Health, love, and happiness from a former bride,

Carly B

Simple Changes You Can Make To Start Doing Your Part in Saving the Earth- RIGHT NOW!

Top scientist say we have 12 years to save the Earth.

In the next 12 years we have to make big strides in reversing the insane human destruction to this Earth before it is irreversible FOREVER.

TWELVE YEARS. that’s it.

A lot can happen in 12 years. And that can be a lot of good if we try.

I like the positive vibes I see when Earth Day rolls around each year. But only weeks, days, or even hours after it’s over, most people forget to actually do their part. I used to be one of those people, until I reminded myself to do better, because it isn’t that hard to do so!

I am no “Save the Earth” perfectionist, and I still have some changes I plan to make to make my footprint a little bit smaller. BUT I’ve started making changes, and the changes I’ve started with are easy for anyone to implement.

Here are some simple changes YOU can make to do better for the EARTH- today and forever.

 

1)  Recycle, and recycle smart!

This seems like a no-brainer, but it is something that humans get so lazy with! Instead of throwing out your empty box of cereal, that can be recycled! With that being said, know what you can recycle and what you can’t, because recycling improperly could do more harm than good. Pay attention to the boxes and labels and look for the recycling label indicating that the item can be recycled. Some items will even tell you you that the box for example CAN be recycled but the inner bag cannot. While you’re looking that closely at the items too, you can go a step farther and choose products while shopping that can be recycled. Get ahead of the extra trash before you even purchase!

P.S. this includes newspapers! Recycle those, if they still exist in your household 😉

 

2) Watch how much you use water and turn it OFF

The water does not need to be running while you are transferring the dish from the sink to the dishwasher. You do not need to have it on while you’re washing your face or brushing your teeth, nor do you need to preheat your shower water. Pay closer attention to when your water is on and think about if it needs to be on for that long, or even in the first place.

How does using less water actually help the environment?

From EnergyStar.gov 

“Using water-saving techniques can save you money and diverts less water from our rivers, bays, and estuaries, which helps keep the environment healthy. It can also reduce water and wastewater treatment costs and the amount of energy used to treat, pump, and heat water. This lowers energy demand, which helps prevent air pollution.”

3) Re-usable grocery bags.

And if that isn’t an option (which it always is, but let’s just say in case you forgot yours) opt for paper bags! This one is so so so easy, and let me add with these re-usable bags, you end up having less bags to unload and can make it from the car to the house in one trip!

And if you have a plethora of plastic grocery bags sitting in your pantry like we do (because we never threw them away, just didn’t know how to properly dispose of them) you can take them to your grocery store and they should have ways to properly dispose of those. Be sure to ask your store first though before throwing those bags in some random place.

 

4) Eat less meat

I’m not suggesting you go full on vegan, or even vegetarian, unless you want to, just make a few conscious efforts to eat meat less. I used to eat meal twice a day every day. I ate the typical “fitness bro” lunch that included some sort of chicken or ground turkey and at night a different, usually more creative dish that also contained a meat product. It was just how I thought I should eat, and get my protein in. I not only eat meat for maybe 1 meal a day 5-6 days a week. Eating less meat does have a positive impact on the earth. Plus, it can still be tasty and high protein if that’s what you’re looking for. I know, because I’m sitting here eating a plant based burger with 20 grams of protein and still delicious! You just have to open your mind enough to try

 

5) Invest in a travel mug, reusable water bottle, etc.

Plastic water bottles should essentially not exist. Not with the plethora of reusable water bottles and tumblers on the market now a days. Not only are you saving the planet with one less plastic water bottle at a time, you are also likely to intake more water daily as most of these reusable options are 20-35+ ounces each!

ALSO: if you’re a coffee addict, invest in buying your own coffee mug, this includes the ones at Starbucks!

 

 

6) Ditch the straws

Like for real! Just like reusable and washable cups, there are reusable and washable straws! Hell, go a step further and always have one in your car or your purse, etc. and ditch the straws that restaurants so irresponsibly pass out

Did you know:

According to the Trash Free Seas Alliance, the average American uses 1.6 straws a day. In the US alone, that’s enough to circle the equator two and a half times.

Quoted directly from WorldWildlife.org to learn more about how your plastic straw negatively impacts the environment, click here 

 

7) Adjust your heat and A/C when you’re gone and be sure to turn the lights off!

This one also seems like a “duh” moment, but turning off your lights, your TV, unplugging electronics when not in use and adjusting your heat and A/C will not only do good for the Earth, it will also do good for your wallet! According to WorldWildlife.org the impact of adjusting your thermostat, or turning lights and electronics off can have a dramatic effect on giving you a greener thumb with these 2 simple changes:

1. Dial it down. Moving your thermostat down just two degrees in winter and up two degrees in summer could save about 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per year from being released into the atmosphere.

2. Turn it off. Artificial lighting accounts for 44 percent of electricity use in office buildings. Make it a habit to turn off the lights when you’re leaving any room for 15 minutes or more. Same goes for electronics; switch off power strips and unplug electrical devices when you’re not using them.

(quoted directly from worldwildlife.org )

Imagine if you and all of your neighbors played by just these 2 rules, what kind of impact that could have!

 

Additional Earth friendly suggestions: fuel efficient cars and energy efficient appliances. We drive a Kia Hybrid Niro, which gets 50-60 miles to the gallon. If you’re in the market for a new car, please be sure to research fuel efficient options! The same can be said if you are in the market for any new appliances. A few extra dollars up front for these items could save you and the Earth big in the long run!

 

Glad to have you here!

If you've had success in changing any small habit in an effort to save the Earth, I'd love to hear it! 

Email me at lifeofcarlyb@gmail.com 

Please share this on your social media platforms to spread the word.

These simple tips can go a long way, especially if we all act now!

Find me on Instagram @lifeofcarlyb_



In health,

Carly B

 

9 Books to Add to Your Summer Reading List (with a wide variety to fit all personality types)

I’ve got some books sitting on my shelves that I’ve never finished. I’ve also got some books sitting on my shelves that I have read multiple times. The following books fall somewhere in that category of “I can’t get enough, and think YOU should feel the same way too!”

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So huddle up on your porch early some morning or late some night. Bring these to the beach or the pool. Or save them for a long car ride. Because these books all have captivated me.

Self Help, Self Empowerment.

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1)  Girl, Wash Your Face

Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be.

By Rachel Hollis.

Let’s be real, WHAT reading list in 2019 can you NOT find Rachel Hollis on? I actually hope you’ve read this one, and Girl, Stop Apologizing (recommendation #2 below) but if you haven’t, here’s your cue to head to your nearest Target and purchase yourself a copy!

Girl, Wash Your Face is a self-love, self-empowering, total #girlboss motivational type of book. Rachel Hollis goes into detail of every lie she’s ever believed about herself and how she found the way and the courage to get past that lie. Both equally humorous and serious, you’ll find yourself pausing multiple times to jot down some brilliant line or self-help tip Rachel has relayed to her readers, yet again.  Even if you don’t think you’re in need of a self-help journey, this book will find a way to reel you back down to Earth and give yourself a chance to assess your goals, your dreams, and your current reality.

“You and only you are responsible for how happy you are”

-Rachel Hollis

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2) Girl, Stop Apologizing.

A shame-Free Plan for Embracing and Achieving Your Goals

By Rachel Hollis.

Trailing off of her first female empowerment book, Girl, Wash your Face, Rachel goes into everything she feels women feel the need to apologize for, and why we SHOULDN’T. This book has a more detailed “map” for you to follow, as she breaks it down into behaviors that we possess to make us feel apologetic, and skills we can develop to overcome that.

“You are beautiful and worthy of good things, and if you don’t believe that, nobody will”

-Rachel Hollis.

A story of overcoming the impossible. A story to make you stop feeling bad about yourself because you don’t have it that bad.

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3) Locked In

-By Victoria Arlen

Out of all books on this list, as much as I love Rachel Hollis or dogs, this book is hands down my favorite. It reels you in, it makes you sit there with your jaw hanging open that something like this could actually happen to someone. Better yet, your jaw will hit the floor when you read how Victoria rose above all expectations, surpassing miracles to be the inspiration she is today.

About the book (from Simon and Schuster )

ESPN personality and Paralympics champion Victoria Arlen shares her courageous and miraculous story of recovery after falling into a mysterious vegetative state at age eleven and how she broke free, overcoming the odds and never giving up hope, eventually living a full and inspiring life.

When Victoria Arlen was eleven years old, she contracted two rare diseases simultaneously and fell into a mysterious vegetative state. For two years her mind was dark, but in the third year, her mind broke free, and she was able to think clearly and to hear and feel everything—but no one knew.

When she was fifteen years old, against all odds and medical predictions, she was finally able to communicate through eye blinks, and she gradually regained her ability to speak and eat and move her upper body, but she faced the devastating reality of paralysis from the waist down because of damage to her spine. However, Victoria didn’t lose her strength or steadfast determination, and two years later, she won a gold medal for swimming at the London 2012 Paralympics.

In Locked In, Victoria shares her never-before-published story—the pain, the struggle, the fight to live and thrive, and most importantly, the faith that carried her through. Her journey was not easy, but by believing in God’s healing power and forgiveness, she is living proof that, despite seemingly insurmountable odds and challenges, the will to survive and resolve to live can be a force stronger than our worst deterrents.

Not many people get a second chance at life like Victoria has, and she made a promise to God that she would make every moment count.

“I learned early on that extraordinary challenges lead to extraordinary victories”

-Victoria Arlen

If you’re in need of a sappy book or a totally basic beach (or basic b*tch) book to take your mind away

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4) The Real Deal

By Lauren Blakely

I don’t normally go into book stores and think “oohh I want a sappy romance book!” but I found myself in a Barnes and Noble stalling some extra time and for some reason, I kept getting drawn to those basic chick books. So I went for this one, and was pleasantly surprised! I finished in within a week, which is pretty darn fast for me.

About the book from Good Reads

“April Hamilton wants you to know she hasn’t been on Craigslist since that time she sold her futon after college. She doesn’t even spend that much time online. And even if she did, she would not be looking up personal ads. But going home alone for her family’s summer reunion is an invitation for every single relative to butt into her personal life. She simply can’t handle another blind date with the butcher, the baker or the candlestick maker from her hometown. So when she finds the Craigslist ad for a boyfriend-for-hire, she’s ready to pay to play.

Heading Home and Need a Buffer? I’m the REAL DEAL. 

Theo Banks has been running from the past for years. He’s this close to finally settling all his debts, and one more job as a boyfriend-for-hire will do the trick. He’s no gigolo. Please. He’s something of an actor, and he knows how to slip into any role, including pretending to be April’s new beau — the bad boy with the heart of gold.

Even if it means sleeping in close quarters in that tiny little bed in her parents’ inn. Even if it means spinning tales of a romance that starts to feel all too true. What neither one of them counts on is that amid the egg toss, the arm wrestling, and a fierce game of Lawn Twister that has them tangled up together, they might be feeling the real deal.

She only wanted to show her family once and for all that she had no need to settle down.

He didn’t expect to have the time of his life at her parent’s home.

They didn’t plan on loving every single second of the game.

But can a masterful game of pretend result in true love?”

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5) Firefly Lane

I got this gifted to me from my mother in law one Christmas, and to be honest this book never would have been on my radar but it was SO GOOD. In fact, it was so good that it is on my list of “to-read-agains”, once I get through my current list of “to-read-for-the-first-time”.

About the book from Good Reads
“From the beginning, Tully is desperate to prove her worth to the world. Abandoned by her mother at an early age, she longs to be loved unconditionally. In the glittering, big-hair era of the eighties, she looks to men to fill the void in her soul. But in the buttoned-down nineties, it is television news that captivates her. She will follow her own blind ambition to New York and around the globe, finding fame and success . . . and loneliness.

Kate knows early on that her life will be nothing special. Throughout college, she pretends to be driven by a need for success, but all she really wants is to fall in love and have children and live an ordinary life. In her own quiet way, Kate is as driven as Tully. What she doesn’t know is how being a wife and mother will change her . . . how she’ll lose sight of who she once was, and what she once wanted. And how much she’ll envy her famous best friend. . . .

For thirty years, Tully and Kate buoy each other through life, weathering the storms of friendship—jealousy, anger, hurt, resentment. They think they’ve survived it all until a single act of betrayal tears them apart . . . and puts their courage and friendship to the ultimate test.

Firefly Lane is for anyone who ever drank Boone’s Farm apple wine while listening to Abba or Fleetwood Mac. More than a coming-of-age novel, it’s the story of a generation of women who were both blessed and cursed by choices. It’s about promises and secrets and betrayals. And ultimately, about the one person who really, truly knows you—and knows what has the power to hurt you . . . and heal you. Firefly Lane is a story you’ll never forget . . . one you’ll want to pass on to your best friend.”

For all Dog Lovers

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6) Saving Sadie

How a Dog That No One Wanted Inspired the World

By Joal Derse Dauer

Another one gifted to me by my mother in law, she’s coming in clutch eh?! It’s dog book that ends happy! I figured this is a good one to start with. Not only does it end happily, Sadie, the star of the show, is still alive today! She is inspiring others, especially children to embrace your uniqueness and to not let others tell you what you can and cannot do. I’d recommend this book a hundred times over, a great book to read to or with your middle aged children as well!

Reviews from Saving Sadie website

“An uplifting story with tremendous heart. I couldn’t put it down.” ~ Helen Brown, NYT Bestselling Author of Cleo

“A triumphant tale of second chances that shows how patience, hope, compassion and love can truly transform lives.” ~ Modern Dog on Saving Sadie

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7) The Art of Racing in The Rain

By Garth Stein

Clearly, I was even more drawn to this book by the sheer fact that the main character is a Golden Retriever. It hit home with me, growing up in a household that always had Goldens, and being a dog mom to two Golden’s now, I couldn’t not read this.

This might be #7 on this list, but if you are a dog lover, and a dog lover who watches each and every movie starring a dog, no matter how hard you know you’ll cry, then you need to put this on NUMBER ONE of your list! Because this is becoming a movie this summer!

About the book from GarthStein.com

“Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: a philosopher with a nearly human soul (and an obsession with opposable thumbs), he has educated himself by watching television extensively, and by listening very closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver. Through Denny, Enzo has gained tremendous insight into the human condition, and he sees that life, like racing, isn’t simply about going fast. Using the techniques needed on the race track, one can successfully navigate all of life’s ordeals.”

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8) Walking With Peety

The Dog Who Saved My Life

By Eric O’Grey

I first heard about this book on some segment of the Today Show. The author came on to tell his story of how one old, and overweight dog, helped him go from a severely unhealthy lifestyle, overweight with joints aching, to a healthy man with a newfound love.

A book great for both dog lovers and those on search for a new life path, a new healthy life path.

About the book from EricnandPeety.com

“Walking with Peety is an inspirational and informative story about recovery, redemption, hope and achieving dreams, made possible by a doctor who listened and cared, the unconditional love between a man who thought life was over and a shelter dog who wouldn’t let him quit, and the kindness of others who inspired him to become the person he always wanted to be. The book includes many surprises and subplots featuring stories of legendary man/dog road trips, animal kindness, overcoming chronic disease with plant based nutrition, how angels are not always human, and a fairy tale of love lost and found again 40 years later.

Eric was 150 pounds overweight, depressed, and sick. After a lifetime of failed diet attempts, and the onset of type-2 diabetes, Eric went to a new doctor, who surprisingly prescribed a shelter dog. And that’s when Eric met Peety: an overweight, middle-aged and forgotten dog who, like Eric, had seen better days. The two adopted each other and began an incredible journey together, forming a bond of brotherhood and unconditional love that forever changed their lives. Over the next year, just by going on walks, playing together, and eating plant-based food, Eric lost 150 pounds, and Peety lost 25. As a result, Eric reversed his diabetes, got off all medication, and became happy and healthy for the first time in his life, eventually reconnecting with and marrying his high school sweetheart. Walking with Peety is for anyone ready to make a change in their life, and for everyone who knows the joy, love, and hope that dogs can bring. This is more than a tale of mutual rescue. This is an epic comeback story of friendship and strength.”

And for a good freaking laugh

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9) My Horizontal Life

A collection of one night stands

By Chelsea Handler

“In this raucous collection of true-life stories, Chelsea Handler recounts her time spent in the social trenches with that wild, strange, irresistible, and often gratifying beast: the one-night stand.”

As always, thanks for stopping by!

To hear more from Carly B or to get my emails

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You can also find me on Instagram @lifeofcarlyb_

Got questions? Reach out to me at lifeofcarlyb@gmail.com



In health, and good reading,

Carly B

Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable: Part 3: It’s Your LIFE

 

In part 1 of this series, I talked about the importance of this simple concept, getting comfortable being uncomfortable, as it pertains to fitness. Part 1 was probably the most widely recognized and relatable concept, as it could and should pertain to everyone, because everyone can use a good kick in the rear to get started, keep going, or to work harder.

So, Part 1 was relatable.

Part 2, which was all about relationships, became a very relatable piece without people realizing it prior to reading. But once you started reading you began saying to yourself “yep, I agree with that” or “yep, I need to do that”.

So part 1 and 2 were both relatable, part 2 just took some extra digging.

Part 3 y’all, you’re likely going to need to dig deep. Dig deep because we don’t like to realize that we are being complacent with our lives, and the one and only shot we have at it. Unfortunately, more times than not, that is how we live our lives- complacent without realization.

In order to reach your full potential, to see what this world truly has to offer for you, to live out your life so wildly in love with it, you need to get comfortable being uncomfortable. The changes you should be making in part here, they will be the most uncomfortable of all.

When you think about your life as is, what you’re doing, what you’re accomplishing, the people, events, and experiences you fill it with, what does it look like?

Does that match up to the goals, as lofty as they may be, that you have for your life?

Maybe you’ve got 1 area, maybe 2, where you can say “yes, THIS is how I want it to be for the rest of my life”. May that be your significant other, your kids, or where you live.

But what about the rest?

Do you have goals that are floating out there somewhere?

Maybe some within swimming reach.

Maybe some so far away that you’d have to rent out a yacht to get there.

Only, you can’t afford a yacht, so you leave them out there floating…. floating… floating…

So you tell yourself that you can’t afford that yacht, and that you will never be able to afford that yacht, because the risks, the sacrifices, and the effort it takes to afford that yacht are so far out of your comfort zone, it just doesn’t seem possible to you.

That is where getting comfortable being uncomfortable comes in.

THIS LIFE IS SUPPOSED TO UNCOMFORTABLE AT TIMES.

IT MEANS YOU ARE DOING SOMETHING NEW.

SOMETHING CHALLENGING.

SOMETHING SO WILDLY FRESH IT WILL AWAKEN YOUR SOUL AGAIN.

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Here’s where we fail at getting uncomfortable:

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The first step

May this be the first step out of your comfort zone.

The first step into a new interview.

The first step into a new home.

The first step literally anywhere.

We have a hard time taking it because we like our comfort zone. It’s warm and fuzzy like a newborn baby all swaddled up.

It’s comfortable until it’s not.

But there’s a minor part before this first step that we fail at before we can even fail at taking the first step, it’s realizing that a first step is needed in the first place.

How do you know? How do you know it is time to take the first step, that any part of your life even requires that first step? Here let me help you….

If you can answer “yes” to any of these questions, then you’re ready, and in need, of taking the first step:

  1. Do you feel complacent in your job?
  2. Do you feel complacent in your relationship?
  3. Do you feel complacent where you live?
  4. Do you feel complacent in your friend circle?
  5. Do you dream of living somewhere else?
  6. Do your day dreams take you far away from where you currently are (physically or mentally)?
  7. Have you tried something new within the past year?
  8. How about the past 6 months?
  9. Have you lived your life according to your own terms?
  10. If you lived the rest of your life, exactly where and exactly how you are now, would you be happy with it by the end of your life?
If you didn’t have one single “yes” answer, then you my friend are a gem. That means you’re living your life to the freaking fullest. You’ve grasped opportunity, you’ve found your tribe, you have found and understand the importance of YOUR happiness.

And if you didn’t have one single “yes”, go back through again to make sure you’re not lying to yourself.

And for those of you who did have a “YES”. Are you ready? Because it’s time to get stepping.

Here’s your cue, make the first step, and make it now.

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Justifying our decisions

Once we’ve made that first step, for some wild reason, we feel the need to justify it. Both to ourselves and to our family and friends.

What’s wrong with that you might ask? I like to make sure I’m making the right decision, I like to let my family and friends in on it. FRIEND, NO. Just NO. Let your gut do the talking for one time in your whole freaking life. DON’T JUSTIFY IT. Tell yourself and your family that you are doing this because it is the best FOR YOU and you are so excited. Point blank, this feels right, and it feels right for you- RIGHT NOW. **Now, if there’s a significant other or kids involved, I hope you are all on board with it, maybe prior to making the decision to step**.

You’ve made the decision to take the first step out of your comfort zone and towards something more. Be proud as f*ck of that, wear that shit on your sleeve. And ignore the feeling to justify it.

It’s weird, isn’t? I’ve done it before, still feel the need to do it sometimes. We have grown into a society where we constantly have to explain ourselves. Social media is primarily to blame.

You’re moving? Got a new job? Cutting your hair? Cutting the cord on a friendship? Trying a new exercise routine? Sending your kids to a different school? Adopting a new dog? Taking a first step WHERE EVER?

Sweet good for you. You go Glen CoCo. Don’t explain it. Just do it. Shout it from the rooftops.

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Coming to terms with it

Otherwise put, second guessing ourselves.

Unless you’re making a total on the spot, impulsive decision, then you’re giving yourself room to second guess yourself. I’m not saying to make every decision an impulse decision, not at all. I am telling you to prepare yourself to get uncomfortable again, the second time you have to make the decision to make the first step, or in this case, it’ll feel like the second step, out of your comfort zone.

We’ve all been there.

We make a decision, but it takes time to fully birth, so there is a period of time when we can second guess ourselves. Most of the time, we do. This is where it truly matters. I hope that you trust your gut enough, and trust your desire for more to not turn and walk back into your comfort zone.

Sometimes, in this period of coming to terms, we turn to those closest to us to talk about it. But beware, that can be equally helpful as hurtful. If this is a decision you made all on your own the first time, don’t let someone else talk you in or out of it. Is it uncomfortable being the only person to make that decision for yourself again? Hell yes. We like to feel secure in our decisions. But news flash, if you’re making a big life decision, you might not feel secure in that until months after. How freaking uncomfortable! Ride it out. Trust yourself, and trust the higher up. You might be uncomfortable for a few months, but that’s better than being uncomfortable knowing that you are still in the same freaking place as you’ve always been.

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Running after you step

There is no turning back now. You’ve stepped, made the decision, shouted it from the roof top and squashed second guessing. It’s all in now.

Things will pick up speed, whatever this big life decision is, I promise you it will pick up speed. So lace up! It’s go time.

Take it from me, this part of being uncomfortable can turn into the most fun part. Things are spinning around you, but there is so much to see in that blur of newness and the unknown.

  • Had we not realized we wanted to leave Iowa and the Midwest to see what else was out there for us.
  • Had Alex not said yes to a job in Greensboro, NC.
  • Had I said no to going with him because I was so sad about the thought of leaving my friends and family.
  • Had we not moved to NC.
  • Had I not gotten a job at Orangetheory Fitness.
  • Had I not met people with connections to so much more.
  • Had I not started volunteering with animal rescue
  • Had we not done all of those things PLUS MORE we…. I…. wouldn’t be who I am today. I can tell you that I would be a slightly more bitter, more tired, less fulfilled version of myself who would constantly be thinking of the what-ifs and stuck in my day dreams.

But we went for it!

It was fast. I tried to hold on for dear life at times. But when I let go and let the rollercoaster of life take me where I’m supposed to be, when I laced up my shoes and ran with the wind, I learned to enjoy the ride. And holy hell what a ride it has been!

Was I uncomfortable at times? Hell yes.

I still am. Because we are still going for it, still saying yes to more and to new.

I like being uncomfortable. Because it means I’m feeling something new. It means I’m doing something new.

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And with each step out of my comfort zone, that comfort zone grows smaller. It becomes a smaller zone to step back into, forcing myself to stay out of it.

And with each step out of my comfort zone, I’m getting closer to that yacht. Figuratively and literally. I will own a yacht someday. And when I do, I’ll grab that last piece of dream floating out there in the deep blue, only to find that there are more floating out there, ready for me to catch.

 

Get comfortable being uncomfortable.

It’s the only way to LIVE.

 

Cheers to living!

 

As always, 

Thanks for stopping by!

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Cheers & in health,

Carly B



 

 

5 Boozy places you must visit in D.C.

Doing touristy things in the nations capital is fun and all, but all of that can work up a real thirst. In between touristy things, or hell if you’ve already done the touristy things and are looking to visit D.C. like a local, here are 5 very cool, and very unique places to go- for the Boozy Traveler.

1) Agora

This place is so cool, like SO COOL. It was literally the first place we went to once we got to D.C. We enjoyed our first experience here THAT much. I tell all my friends about it, and now, I’m telling all of YOU about it.

I mean, who wouldn’t love endless food dishes AND bottomless mimosas, Bloody Mary’s, or well liquor drinks?!

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You sit down, they automatically assume you want the bottomless brunch, because DUH you do (side note, everyone at the table has to do the bottomless, or none, that is a rule of theirs. It makes sense though once you keep reading). They ask you what you want for your drink and they bring it right out, along with all of their “spreads”, which can be called appetizers. Your drinks get filled up even before they’re empty, and all the food is brought out into small, yet shareable sizes. And the best part?! If you want items A,B,C,D,E,F, & G on the menu, they’ll bring them ALL to your table in the same shareable sizes, and they’ll do it again until your belly is stuffed. Which is why everyone at the table must be doing the bottomless, otherwise there would be a lot of freeloaders, ya feel?

Fair warning: by the end of your meal (which is a 2 hour time limit), your bottomless mimosa pretty much turns into a flute of champagne, they just keep topping it off.

But hey that’s okay, it leaves ya feeling bubbly and happy, as seen here 😉

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Agora: 1527 17th st NW.
Washington, DC
Brunch hours: 11AM-4PM

2) Blue Jacket Brewery

I love finding amazing places, unexpectedly. Okay, our D.C. friend we were with did recommend this one, but I was fully expecting it to be like any other brewery that are popping up across the U.S. But it was goooood. Not only was the beer spectacular, the Bloody Mary? Good lord, it was tasty and a perfect blend of spicy and not, if ya feel me? And then there was the food. #GetInMyBelly

My recommendation? Go with a group of people, each of you get your own flights of beer, a few get a Bloody or another signature cocktail, and plenty of apps, and share them all! 

Blue Jacket: 300 Tingey St SE.
Washington DC

3) Bardo

Located on the Anacostia River, which is a nice draw, but this one was an odd one for sure. The most compelling thing about it, wasn’t even the river behind it, no it was the freaking car on the roof. Yep, a car on the roof. And then the second surprise came, it was a completely outdoor brewery. Like completely. And then there were all of the old restaurant booths, crooked tables, and old school chairs for seating that made it just out of the world weird. But let me tell you, on a nice summer day I bet this place is BANGING.

Even if you don’t like beer, go just to see the unusual-ness of this place. Just go.

Bardo. 25 Potomac Ave SE.
Washington, DC.

4) Dacha

I wish I could show you the bathrooms in this place, but that would just be weird, and also creepy and likely a felony if I had taken a video in there. But this place was LEGIT. And also suppperrrr futuristic.

IMG_7081 (1)There are 2 locations, to my knowledge, in the D.C. area, the one we went to was also located on the river and had only been open a week but y’all… they had their shit togetherThe service? Excellent. The food? Speedy and delicious. The drinks? Crafty, adorable, tasty and strong as f*ck. It’s a nice cocktail lounge if you’re looking to chill with the girls, but also upbeat enough to be a pregame spot for a soccer game (which is what we did). Oh plus a nifty outdoor area. It kind of can fit all needs. Like I said, it’s legit.

 

Dacha. 79 Potomac Ave. SE
Washington, DC.

5) Jack Rose

IMG_7077For the love of whiskey, this place had it ALL. Bookshelves on bookshelves of whiskey could be intimidating to someone who doesn’t know jack about whiskey, but their staff was so highly trained that we all got something we thoroughly enjoyed. I went for a cocktail, the 2 guys I were with went for whiskey neat, and our fabulous bartender helped each of find our “taste”. Like I said, we all enjoyed what we got, and somehow she managed to narrow down our choices among thousands of whiskey to just the right one. Miraculous.

Oh, and if you’re on the fence of going here, let me just say that when we asked the bartender if she had ever met anyone famous there she replied “I don’t kiss and tell”, which means she had. I mean with 2oz pours of whiskey costing $1,2000 (at the max, don’t worry we were more in the $10-20 range!), it can be assumed that some famous people would float into there. Not to mention that she’s had “regulars” come in from around the world, just for the whiskey here. If that doesn’t scream this place is the shit and the whiskey is bomb, then I don’t know what does!

highly recommend this place. Even if you’re not a whiskey connoisseur, the atmosphere of the place is neat enough! Plus, they can make a cocktail to fit your taste, I promise.

Jack Rose Whiskey Bar. 2007 18th St. NW
Washington, DC.

 

Cheers to that! 

If you find other favorite boozy place in D.C.

Especially ones that go kind of off the radar.

Or aren't the traditional 'tourist' spots.

Let me know!

Holla at me at lifeofcarlyb@gmail.com

Or on Instagram at lifeofcarlyb_

Subscribe to my email! 

Cheers,

Carly B