Benefits of Hyaluronic Acid Serum: The Ultimate Hydration

Hey y’all! If you are all in to skin care like I am, you know that one of the major fads in skin care right now is hyaluronic acid. How many of you know why this is so popular?

What does it do?

So hyaluronic acid is naturally produced and present in the body–mostly in the eyes, skin, and joints. Its main purpose is to provide hydration to the skin and lubrication to the joints.

Hyaluronic acid binds to water in an effort to retain moisture and can hold 1000x its weight in water. You might see it listed in ingredients as HA or sodium hyaluronate.

Naturally, hyaluronic acid is what keeps the moisture in your skin. Using a serum is effective in that it holds more moisture in your skin, creating a more youthful look.

Why should you use it?

If you’ve seen any of my videos on skin care, you know what the most important part of skin care is… MOISTURIZING. This is why you want this ingredient in your products: it is the ultimate moisturizer.

As the body endures the natural aging process, the amount of hyaluronic acid naturally produced decreases. Adding it topically can supplement the lack of production.

Also, it is thought to reduce the signs of aging because it has proven to help skin recover from sun damage and decrease the appearance of wrinkles. Basically, it counteracts early signs of aging.

What products should I look for?

There is already anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties in hyaluronic acid, so there isn’t much risk of irritation or sensitivity to the skin when searching for the right products. Also, it is naturally produced in the body so there is even lower risk of adverse reaction!

I suppose it would be better to tell you what products to stay away from when it comes to hyaluronic acid:

  • Products with artificial fragrance (irritant)
  • Products containing parabens or phthalates
  • Products without disclosed ingredients list
  • Overpriced products–you can find effective products that are cost effective!

How it works:

As this is part of the skincare series, let’s get back to the benefits of the use on the skin! Hyaluronic acid binds to water in the skin to help maintain hydration. It helps your body maintain the ultimate hydration.

Hydrating the skin counteracts the early signs of aging by repairing damage to the skin, creating a more supple look, and decreasing the appearance of fine wrinkles.

More than that, it’s stimulation to increase blood cells helps the healing of a wound. Certain breakouts are, also, wounds. The antibacterial compound of hyaluronic acid helps in this area as it stimulates the healing process. That being said, hyaluronic acid is beneficial to certain breakouts!

Order of Use

You will use this topically as the last product before you use your moisturizer.

Other Benefits of Hyaluronic Acid

Topical products with hyaluronic acid will reduce redness, the look of fine wrinkles, and soothe dermatitis.

Many studies have been done on the effects of injections. I am not one to get injections, but there is more than just one benefit to the injections.

  • Skin: To get firmer looking skin, injections can be administered directly to the an area to create the appearance of younger looking skin.
  • Joints: Hyaluronic acid injections are used directly to alleviate the effects of osteoarthritis/severe joint pain.
  • Wounds: It has been proven to increase the amount of blood cells to help wounds heal when applied to oral wounds.

Most people who experience extreme joint pain use an oral supplement to extend the benefits of the injection. Taking a supplement increases the amount of hyaluronic acid in the skin–which will continue to help the hydration of the skin–and could be the most beneficial way to intake this ingredient.

Since hyaluronic acid is the ultimate hydration, it is found in eye drops to counteract dry eyes. Not only that, but hyaluronic acid has been shown to preserve bone strength and counteract symptoms of acid reflux when taken in a supplement form.

Do you use hyaluronic acid? Let me know in the comments!

XO,

Sonja

P.S. Since this is newer in the beauty fad world (6 years or so) there is so much to learn about this ingredient! This is just a reminder that, although things move faster now, we are always continuously learning more. That is why todays beauty trends are not the same as the beauty trends from decades ago! Keep learning more!

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Benefits of Glycolic Acid: Your At-Home Chemical Peel

Another big skin care DO at the moment. Let’s talk about why you want to incorporate glycolic acid into your skin care routine!

What does it do?

Essentially, glycolic acid helps remove dead skin cells.

Beyond removing dead cells, it exfoliates the remaining layers of skin breaking apart the bonds connecting thousands of other dead cells so they can be released and plumper, fresher cells can take their place.

Why should you use it?

Beyond the fact that acne is caused by not only bacteria but dead skin cells collecting in the pores, the use of glycolic acid reveals your newer skin cells. Glycolic acid penetrates through layers of skin cells and aids in the removal of dead skin.

Essentially, glycolic acid is an extreme exfoliator–it removes the dead skin cells that give your skin a more dull appearance. This means that it will leave your skin more smooth to the touch and appear more radiant just as a chemical peel would.

You might be wondering why exfoliating is so important…

Well, exfoliating it so important to enhance the look and feel of your skin. The bumps, discoloration, and wrinkles on your face can all be minimized with a great exfoliating ingredient like glycolic acid! Exfoliators are made to remove dead skin cells and impurities, so if you want to prevent breakouts, exfoliating is a great measure to take.

What products should I look for?

Glycolic acid is indeed an acid, and for this reason, it can really irritate sensitive skin. This is why you will find that the higher percentage of glycolic acid is in a product, the less time it is recommended to leave it on.

It is important you know that your skin should never feel a tingling sensation due to glycolic acid (or any other skin care product) that is benefiting your skin! If it stings, remove the product simply by using water as it is water-soluble. This is an indicator that your skin may be too sensitive for the use of that product.

Most skin care products that contain glycolic acid also contain soothing agents to counteract the irritation that the glycolic acid may cause. Some soothing ingredients to look for include chamomile, green tea extract, calendula, vitamins A, C, and E, or aloe vera. These may counteract the harshness of a chemical peel on the skin.

How it works:

Basically, the higher the percentage of glycolic acid in a product, the less amount of time it should be left on the skin and/or used. For example, you might use 50% glycolic acid for one to three minutes or 10% glycolic acid for ten minutes.

**Make sure you read the instructions/directions on all of your skin care products to ensure proper use.**

Order of Use

Glycolic acid should be used after cleansing and before any serums and/or moisturizers. After all, you want to get the most out of your other skin care by applying it to your exfoliated, newly revealed skin!

Products including glycolic acid can range in recommended use from 2 times per week to once per day! This is why it is so important to read the information on your product!

Other Benefits of Glycolic Acid

Glycolic acid can be used to treat scarring from acne scars to stretch marks. As I mentioned before, it is great for removing impurities that can cause acne. This is why you might find this ingredient in both anti-aging and acne treatments. Also, glycolic acid is known to remove dark spots and help with hyperpigmentation. Ultimately, it can even out your skin tone!

Treat your skin to an at-home spa treatment with glycolic acid! Most products project noticeable results within 12 hours!

Remember, not every product that works for someone else will work for you, but if you are looking for that glow factor, glycolic acid may be the missing step in your skin care!

Do you use glycolic acid? Let me know in the comments!

XO,

Sonja

The Haunting of the Stanley Hotel

This post is almost a year too late as I visited the Stanley Hotel last December! I figure since tours are cancelled at the moment, I would share with you guys my experience specifically around the EPIC Ghost Tour. Happy Halloweekend, everyone!

What a perfect time to tell y’all about the ghost tour during my weekend at the Stanley Hotel!

Disclaimer: This story is retold based on information I have heard. There are many variations of this exact story and I am sharing what I know to be as close to the truth as possible. Everything that I experienced was from my stay at a condo owned by the hotel from December 6- 8, 2019.

This is the sign at the entry way of the Stanley Hotel grounds! Let me know in the comments if you want to see where we stayed and what other activities we did while in Estes Park!

Located at the heart of Estes Park, Colorado, the Stanley Hotel is one of the states main attractions known for its views, summertime activities, and ghost presence. While this post only features one of the many stories behind ghosts at this hotel, the town of Estes Park has many attractions that also claim to be haunted.

Room 217

To me, the greatest stories are those of the workers who just loved their jobs at the hotel and are now said to be ghosts. My favorites is that of the chambermaid Elizabeth Wilson and the room 217 (who’s seen the Shining?)!

 **her last name is questionable, I guess, and I can’t exactly recall from the tour**

People were actually staying in this iconic room when we were doing the ghost tour, so the group stayed in the main hallway and the few of us willing to go near the room took turns taking pictures.

In 1911 a storm shut off the power throughout the hotel and guests were ushered out of their rooms while employees were sent to light lanterns in each room.

As Ms. Wilson entered the presidential suite, 217, to light the lantern, there was an immediate explosion. This was later identified as an explosion due to a gas leak and the fact that she had been carrying an open flame.

This explosion caused extreme damage to the west wing of the hotel. But the force of the explosion sent  Ms. Wilson through the ground of the second floor!

One might think that the injuries sustained would be fatal, but she actually made a full recovery with the Stanley’s covering her medical expenses and vowing to pay her for employment until the day she died.

Well, Ms. Wilson had other plans and went back to work as soon as she was able and worked for the hotel until she passed in the 50’s at over 90 years old!

They reconstructed the west wing of the hotel and were able to get make it look like nothing ever happened with matching decor and restorations! The room is now 2 separate rooms and both are in high demand when booking a stay at the hotel.

It is said that Ms. Elizabeth Wilson haunts room 217 and might do such things as folding guests clothing or making their bed. Such stories have even been told that she attempts to separate unwed couples while in the bed in 217 as she was a very conservative woman.

Publicity? Or Reality?

During our tour, I was having an awesome time learning the history and would sort of laugh off the ghost stories because I thought it was mostly just a publicity stunt. For example, Jim Carey refusing to stay in the hotel during filming of Dumb and Dumber seems to be a dramatic ploy to add to the hype of a “haunted” hotel. I could see a publicist thinking of how great it would be to get a big-name actor to dramatize the experience at hotel known for its haunting.

However, I did get put in my place while we were near the former employee tunnels. While most of the stories of haunting seem to be special effects or could be manufactured, the pictures we took below the hotel on our own devices could not have been.

I asked my brother to take a picture of me near one of the collapsed tunnels and my phone glitched and shut off. He then took pictures on his phone and, man, they were creepy! I can’t really explain, but you all can see for yourself!

I am not completely sure on the history of the collapse of this tunnel, but it was so interesting to see this area! You can see the foundation of the hotel (or lack thereof) as the hotel was built just on top of the ground. Again, I am not sure of the specifics, but the hotel moves for this reason which is why you might see a lot of renovation during the off season.

Other things I thought were doctored: the flickering lights on the stair case between the lobby and the bathrooms, the many areas with a cold breeze, and the creaking of the floor right as you were near a “haunted” destination.

Recommendation

Although it’s not for everyone, I did have such a wonderful time on this tour and highly recommend to anyone! So, when the world becomes normal again, take the ghost tour at night at the Stanley Hotel and let me know what you think of the haunting of this historic venue!

Thanks for reading! Let me know in the comments if you have ever been and what you see in these pictures! Do you believe in haunting? Or are you a skeptic like me?

Happy Halloweekend!

XO,

Sonja

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How-To: Lash Application

I have been doing the same lash routine for the last 6 years and I frequently am asked how I am able to apply my falsies and make it look natural. I (finally) thought I would share my how-to with you all so you can see how easy it is to get your dream lashes daily!

I know magnetic lashes are so in right now, but I have mastered my glue-on lash routine and so can you!

**Make sure your hands and tools are clean before putting anything directly on your eyelid**

Watch the video by clicking here!

Step One: Apply Mascara First

This may come as a shock to many, but I can make a pack of 5 sets of lashes last a whole month long! I can maybe even make them last longer if I am not too hard on them! I accredit this to the care I take of each set (which we will go into later in this post).

The first thing to do is apply your mascara and let it dry. Lash application is the second to last step in my makeup routine for the very purpose that I do not want all of my makeup getting on the lashes. I—like most of you—want perfect, jet black lashes! This means NO clumpy mascara stuck to the bottom and no powder particles hanging out on the top. SO, apply mascara first!

I use the Kiss Lashes-Style 01 and their Strip Eyelash Adhesive!

Step Two: Shape the Lash (optional)

I didn’t mention this in the video, but I have small eyes. For that reason, I like to take the lash and bend it on the outer edges to make sure it forms to my eyes. I would rather have to pull to open the crescent shape of the lash than have a lash that is too straight and might not hold correctly to the inner third of my eye.

Sometimes I take the lash and wrap it around my lash glue tube to get the more curved shape that I want.

This could, also be the step where you trim your lashes if the strip is just too darn long for your eye! I use cuticle clippers if I find myself with lashes like that.

Step Three: Use Tweezers or and Applicator

Personally, I like the lash applicator that come in many of the packages; however, tweezers will work all the same.

I always grab the lash from the right side with my right hand and proceed to the glue.

Step Four: Use Brush-On Glue Conservatively

I like to use the brush-on glue because I have more control over how much glue I am putting on the lash than if I was using a tube. Also, I use clear glue because it is less messy.

When brushing on the glue, apply a light layer only. Yes, you want the whole strip to have glue, but only a small amount. The more glue you use, the less control you have in placement of your lash and you are likely to have glue run into your eye.

Step Five: Let Glue Slightly Dry

To keep your lashes sleek and perfect looking, you will avoid excess mess by letting the glue dry slightly before application. This way, glue will be more bonded to the lash and you can move the lash without getting glue all over your eyelid.

Step Six: Applying the Lashes

I always use my left ring finger on the left side of the lash to hold the lash in the place I want. Then, I use the applicator in my right hand to pull the lash to the other end of my eye and as close to the lash line as possible.

Hack: you can, also, use the end of your eyeliner if you don’t want to use your finger!

Step Seven: Repeat Steps Three through Six

I use the exact same technique for both eyes. This means that while doing my right lash, the applicator is holding the outer edge of the lash while my left ring finger holds the inner edge to my inner eye. When I am doing my left lash, the applicator is holding the inner edge of the lash while my left ring finger holds the outer edge to my outer eye.

If you are able to use your left hand to hold the applicator or tweezers for the application of the left lash, that’s great! I just don’t have full mobility or strength in my left thumb due to a freak accident years ago, so I stick with the applicator or tweezers in my right hand!

And there you have it—perfect lashes in minutes!

Any questions? Let me know in the comments below!

XO,

Sonja

#GivingTuesday

Random Acts of Kindness and My Sisters

About 7 years ago, my sister and a friend set out to make someones day. They decided to randomly give a gift of new matching outfits to a friend with twin boys. The gift was not expected and brought so much joy to our friend when she got something in a gift bag on a random day. At the time, Monikka and Megan were only 19 and 20 years old, but they wanted to bring joy to someone else in the form of giving a random gift.

They continued to make every Tuesday a day to give a random gift to an unsuspecting person for the reason of just wanting to make their day! I can’t even begin to tell you how much of an impact this made in our tight knit community.

Paying it Forward

The idea that someone would randomly give a gift, big or small, was just not understandable to most people. However, everyone was so grateful to receive a gift and that generosity became contagious. Once someone received a random gift, they were likely to pay it forward and give another person a random gift.

Shortly after Monikka and Megan began this venture, I started to notice the trend of people buying coffees for the person behind them in the drive-thru at Starbucks. Of course, most people then continue paying it forward by then buying for the person behind them and the random act goes on and on.

Make Someone’s Day

I try to do this as often as possible because it is just nice to do an unsuspected nice thing for a stranger. For those of you who know me well, one of my love languages is gift giving. I seriously enjoy giving gifts to people maybe even more than they enjoy receiving the gifts. It makes me feel so happy that I am maybe giving someone something that they wouldn’t necessarily buy for themselves. For example, when someone is pregnant and focusing on the baby shower and everyone is giving gifts for when the baby comes, I like to give the mom something that she can have for herself to spoil herself.

My oldest sister, Cassie, very recently gave birth to a beautiful baby boy! My first nephew and I am so in love! He has a sassy and adorable older sister that I know will be keeping mom busy all hours of the day. So, before I get off topic going on and on as one of my favorite rolls of Auntie Yoya, I’ll get back to what I think is something every mom needs: something to spoil herself. I didn’t do anything extravagant, but I sent her some goodies to take care of her skin and some easy use makeup that goes on just like a moisturizer. I knew once the baby came she would need a little something for herself!

Spread Happiness and Generosity

In the hopes of turning this crazy time during a pandemic into a time where we reach out to make someone else’s day, I would encourage everyone to think of something nice they could do for someone else in your community, or a complete stranger! Spread happiness and generosity. It’s as easy as taking the time to do something unsuspected and nice for a neighbor, family member, stranger, or friend!

When you go out and do your random acts of kindness, post a pic with the hashtag #GivingTuesday. Let’s spread some joy!

Leave your ideas of great gifts to give on a #GivingTuesday in the comments below!

Can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

XO,

Sonja

10 Things to do Before Christmas

Since the holidays are coming up soon, I thought I’d share a few things that I like to do before Christmas!

1) Decorate

In my household, we decorate the house and put up the Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving. I know some of you might already have yours up! But, for those of you who don’t, I recommend making it a party when decorating the house.

Gather some friends or family. Turn on some Christmas music. Grab a bottle of wine. Wear ugly Christmas sweaters. Decorate the tree. Simple, yet fun! Some of my greatest holiday memories are centered around decorating. It is going to be done at some point, so you might as well make a party out of it!

2) Gift Shopping

Some of you might have been planning all year what your holiday gifts will be, and some of you might wait until the week before the holiday to buy your gifts. Either way, you know it is a part of the holidays that you’ll have to complete before Christmas. For me, shopping for gifts is such a fun experience and I like to be semi-prepared. I don’t buy presents all year long and hold on to them because I would get too excited and give the presents early, so I like to get the bulk of my shopping done a month in advance.

I know this one can get pretty controversial, but Black Friday can be such a fun experience! Now, I don’t suggest cutting your Thanksgiving short to get door-buster deals, but if you want to by all means! I am more of a traditional, early morning Black Friday shopper. It is a great way to get some gifts at a good deal.

I am, actually, more fond of Cyber Monday–I can do the bulk of my shopping online in the comfort of my own home. Also, you can usually get these deals for a full week before. Plus, it is so much more convenient to avoid the lines and crowds while getting your shopping done!

3) Weekend Away

This time of year can get so chaotic, so it is good to remember how the holidays are meant to be spent: with the people we love. Plan a weekend to go to the mountains, downtown, or to a spa with your people. It will be the perfect time to bond and make new memories with your family!

Taking a weekend away is a good way to relax before the big holiday. There’s nothing like a break from work and real life to get you ready for the craziness of hosting the whole family or trying to make it to multiple houses on Christmas!

4) Go to a Tree Lighting

This is always a fun little outing. In the town I live in, there is an annual Tree Lighting Ceremony on the last week of November. Everyone gets together and watches as Main Street and all of the trees lining it are lit up with twinkling lights. It’s such a beautiful sight to see and they make a huge event out of it. It would be worth it to see what your town does around the holidays and check it out!

5) Go to a Parade

I love going to parades as an adult because I always participated in them as a child when I was on dance teams. From the Christmas City of the North Parade in Duluth, Minnesota to the Parade of Lights in Denver, I have made some of my fondest memories as a child dancing in them and watching them now as an adult.

There is nothing like getting a hot cup of apple cider and standing in the freezing cold to watch bands and dance teams wearing sparkly lights make there way down the street. It seems so arbitrary, but I always enjoy going and it is a fun time for those of you with kiddos, too!

6) Enjoy Thanksgiving

This one is important. Before Christmas comes along, you should take the time and really enjoy your Thanksgiving. Cook your old family recipes and watch football all day long. Sit and chat with your family at the kitchen table. Focus on being present in that moment without being too excited or overwhelmed by what is to come in the following weeks.

Also, I talked about how you shouldn’t let shopping end your Thanksgiving early, and I really believe you can do both. You just have to make sure you don’t rush your Thanksgiving plans in order to go out shopping. Enjoy the day first!

7) Watch Christmas Movies

There are some Christmas movies I could watch year round, like Love Actually, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and Miracle on 34th Street. I just love being curled up with a cozy blanket and hot cup of cocoa watching a Christmas classic on a snowy day. That is how I get myself into the holiday spirit leading up to Christmas.

8) Donate

I have mentioned before in my 4 Ways to Give Back This Holiday Season post that donating should be something to consider this time of year. Think of how many extra hats or gloves you could donate, or how many times you could drop your spare change in the red Salvation Army bucket. There are endless opportunities around the holiday season to give back. I think it is so important to include donating as part of your Christmas plans.

9) See the Nutcracker

Growing up as a dancer, I always think of the Nutcracker when I think of Christmas. I still remember the first time my mom took me to see the ballet and I had the time of my life. Honestly, I think that is what inspired me to pursue ballet so fiercely. I saw the ballerina’s leap and turn with perfect technique, and I wanted to be just like them.

Not long after, I began performing in the Nutcracker every year at my dance studio. It would be hours and hours of rehearsals and weekends at the venue for the beginning of December. I loved being a part of that ballet, and now I love watching it! It’s definitely something worth doing, whether it is put on by a studio or a professional ballet company.

10) Friends Gift Exchange

My friends and I have done a variety of celebrations for Christmas. One year we each only bought one present and exchanged gifts among the group in a White Elephant style. That way we would each buy a nice present and receive a nice present without having to buy 5 nice presents. Some years, we have gone with no gifts and just done a dinner and wine night. And other years, we have just bought presents as we have pleased and not done a formal gift exchange.

Of all of these, I think we all most enjoyed buying one gift and planning a night to get together around a Christmas tree to exchange the gift. It was cost effective, we each got a great gift, and we had a night to spend together in a holiday party style. I think it is a great idea to come up with something like this so that you don’t have to go crazy with even more gifts.

What I am Grateful For Today:

My little brother and Lady playing on the couch.

What are you grateful for today? Is there anything you like to do before Christmas? Let me know in the comments!

XO,

Sonja Hoff

25 Things Before 25: Week 6 Update

11/1/19-11/7/19

This week was a great way to kick off the second month of 25 Things Before 25! I have been working hard at work and on my blog. I began a blogging challenge at the beginning of the month and it has been exactly that: a challenge. I am so excited to share with you more about plans for November!

This Week

I began this week feeling very grateful, so I thought I would start it off by paying it forward. I am not wanting to share much about what I have done, because I’m not looking for praise. However, I did have such an awesome thing happen in one instant. I sent money over Venmo to my sister saying that I loved and appreciated her and to enjoy lunch on me. Not two minutes later I got an unexpected Venmo from my sister-in-law saying almost the same thing! I am telling you, what comes around goes around.

Also, I mentioned how this week was busy right? So, my sister-in-law took me with her to the Lana Del Rey concert on what was my only day off I had in about two weeks. We had a blast and it was one hell of a night. It’s so nice to break up a busy work week with a night out with your best friend!

All in all, this week was more working than anything else, but I have so many other big plans coming up to make it all worth it! It has been a lot of planning, and I am so excited!

What I Have Accomplished

The first week of November has been very successful. With the beginning of the my 30-Day Blog Challenge, I actually completed 7 blogs in the first week, but one of them was on the topic of this journey so that post doesn’t count towards the 25 Blogs in One Month category. Also, I added to another new category this month–Pay it Forward. I figured with 30 Days of Gratitude it would be a good month to focus on paying it forward. With that said, here is what I accomplished this week:

  1. Completed 4 of my routine workouts (Number 8)
  2. Went to the Lana Del Rey concert (Number 11)
  3. Memorized a new bible verse (Number 12)
  4. Paid it forward two times (Number 19)
  5. Completed 6 blogs of 25 (Number 24)

My Progress in Perspective

This has been an awesome week! Although it has been busy, I have blogged every single day and I have really etched away at some of these tasks. I completed 14 tasks, and while that is still short of my 17 to 18 tasks per week, it really has been an accomplishment this week! It truly set a good pace for the month, and I am on a blogging roll!

I am at 71 tasks completed, so I am behind in a big way. I do have a plan set to hopefully catch me up by the end of December. I should be at 104 tasks completed. That being said, over the next 7 weeks, I am going to have to complete 22 tasks per week! It is kind of a large number, but I know I can do it! I wrote a blog this week called Start Today! that talks about not waiting until the ambiguous “tomorrow.” And I plan to stick with that type of motivation I had writing that post for the rest of this journey!

Goals for November

In last weeks update, I mentioned that I think I took the wrong approach to my monthly goals. So this month, I decided to make my goals mostly about consistency. This way, I won’t be saying every week that I am behind. I think that each of the following goals will help keep me on track to complete 25 Things Before 25 in the next 11 months. My November goals are:

  1. Complete 22 tasks every week.
  2. Decide ahead each week what I plan to accomplish.
  3. Add to 2 more categories before the end of the month.

If I stick to these goals for the rest of the month, I will feel more confident in my ability to complete this journey. I only have 6 open categories left, so bringing it down to 4 will be a huge accomplishment! I bought a new planner and that has already helped me organize what I am going to do and when. For me, if it is written down, I feel more committed to getting it done.

What I am Grateful For Today:

Writing this update has totally opened up a flood of gratitude for me. I have never been more grateful for changes I have made and adventures I have introduced into my life through 25 Things Before 25 and 30 Days of Gratitude. It is Day 11 of 30 Days of Gratitude today and I am so happy with where I am at.

Today I am grateful for:

  1. Family
  2. Friends
  3. 25 Things Before 25
  4. 30 Days of Gratitude
  5. Planning
  6. New adventures
  7. My puppy
  8. Snowy days
  9. Cute holiday movies
  10. Generosity
  11. Good workouts
  12. Busy work days
  13. My health
  14. Workout challenges
  15. Doggy play dates
  16. Days off
  17. Warm winter gear
  18. Sunshine on cold days
  19. Live music
  20. Random acts of kindness
  21. Good conversations
  22. Reading
  23. Improvement
  24. A warm house
  25. A great support system
  26. Invisalign
  27. Great coworkers
  28. Laughing with my brother
  29. Art
  30. Veterans and their service

Thank you to all men and women who serve and have served in the military! I am grateful for your service today and every day!

What are you grateful for today? Let me know in the comments!

Happy Veterans Day!

XO,

Sonja Hoff

Why I Joined An Accountability Group This Winter

So many people have asked, “Why would you do that right before the holidays?”

Well, that is the perfect reason to join an accountability group! I think that eating good food and adding on some holiday weight should not be mutually exclusive. The past couple of years, I haven’t kept track of my weight before, during, or after the holidays for comparison; however, I do know that my eating and drinking patterns were drastically changed in the past at this time of the year.

What holiday weight?

This is the biggest thing that I want to prevent. Since I have been transforming my life in so many ways including getting into shape, I want to take extra precaution when it comes to those extra pounds some tend to gain this time of year. My goal is to actually continue to lose throughout the holidays, and an accountability group will keep me on that track. I want to make it through the holidays moving forwards rather than backwards, and I know I can do this with the right tools.

Great Resources

With this challenge, there comes meal plans and recipes as well as personal training and new workouts. I think just having a constant contact with a personal trainer would be enough to propel me forward, but it is so much more than that. We have a group Facebook page, we have unlimited communication, we have assessments, and we have a support system of each person on the team. This is how we will be holding ourselves accountable.

I, also, signed up for group fitness classes for an extra expense that will be so worth it. They are geared towards fat burning or cutting, which are both beneficial to stick with my holiday health goals. This will be another way to hold myself accountable and make sure I am sticking with my workout and meal plans.

Beating the Resolution Crowd

We all know that gyms get more and more crowded in January and February because people have made New Years Resolutions and are getting their butts in the gym. While I think it is awesome for people to start their fitness journey at any time, I am not looking forward to the overcrowded gym.

Also, why wait? Why should I wait until after the holidays to move forward? I want to start now and not be held back by the idea that I will do it tomorrow!

Boosting My Confidence Before the New Year

I think by pushing myself harder now will give me the resources and creativity to maintain my workouts even after the gym packs up. I want to build on the progress that I have made already. I want to be prepared for having certain areas of the gym full and having to come up with a different workout on the spot. And I want to feel confident in communicating with other people at the gym.

I tend to avoid talking with people at the gym because I do have a ways to go to reach my fitness goals, and I think that makes me so self-conscious. In every other area of my life, I am not shy at all. Getting to know other people at the gym that I have been going to since high school will be a good change in my life and make me feel more comfortable there. Don’t get me wrong, I sweat and get gross, and I don’t wear makeup to the gym. I feel comfortable enough to do that. What I am seeking to gain is confidence in my technique and my presence at the gym in general. I always say, “At least I am here trying to make a change.” But I want to switch that to, “I get to be here and improve my health and fitness!”

Challenge Myself

This is, also, a new way to challenge myself and push myself out of my comfort zone! I want to be working my booty off everyday in that gym and I know that this will push me to do so. When you are working out by yourself, your workout routine can become just that: a routine. You can begin to feel complaisant and then, ultimately, you aren’t getting the maximum benefit any longer.

I know that by stepping up and trying these new classes and workouts, I will be pushing myself harder than I have been on my own. These classes have a pace that you are kind of set at and I am one to rise to a challenge. That being said, I am excited to work harder than I have before!

Overall Benefit

Overall, by being a part of a 60-Day Challenge, I will be keeping myself accountable and working throughout the holidays on my weight-loss and fitness goals. Just because it is that time of year, I don’t want to fall back into poor habits. I know that having weekly progress reports and monthly assessments will push me to stay on track! I am so excited to see where the next 60 days take me!

What are you grateful for today? Let me know in the comments!

XO,

Sonja Hoff

3 Gifts For Your Loved Ones This Holiday Season

I am not talking about lavish gifts… although I am sure your loved ones would appreciate it!

I am actually talking about those things that someone would love to do, but wouldn’t do alone or buy for themselves!

1) Quality Time

I know that I don’t need to tell you guys that the material things aren’t as important as the memories we make. That being said, consider spending time rather than money on your loved ones, first.

It is that time of year where everyone seems to be in a rush to prepare for hosting holidays, gifting, traveling, or going to holiday events. Combine those personal events with work intensifying this time of year, and you really get a shortage of free time. That is why I think making time to spend your valuable time on someone is so meaningful.

Intentionally setting a date to have a family dinner, a movie night, a cookie decorating competition is actually hard to do this time of year. That is why it is so important to create these opportunities. If that means you have to request a day off work or reschedule plans with someone else, do it. These memories with the people you love the most will last a lifetime! And their is no better way to spend the holiday season than with family.

2) Spa Treatments

As I mentioned in yesterdays blog, this is the stressful time of the year. The one thing that people forget to do or don’t allocate their own funds to is self-care. Now, you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars to send your mother-in-law on a spa day, rather get a Groupon for a salon appointment, a massage, a pedicure. And, hey the massage would be good for literally anyone.

I shared in one of my first ever blog posts about how I got everyone of my family members a massage for Christmas one year, and believe me, it was worth it. While some of my siblings would never in a million years have thought to go and get a massage, they all enjoyed it. Then again, it truly isn’t for everyone. I just love this idea because it is sometimes the last thing someone would think to do for themselves at this time of year.

The very rare family photo with my parents and each of their six kids (Christmas 2015).

3) Plan an Outing!

Is there a spectacular site to see in your area in the winter time? For us in Colorado, it could be anywhere from Denver Zoo Lights to the Ice Sculptures in Vail. It might be a trip, but it is worth planning. Take a day to spend time with your people. After all, isn’t that the most valuable thing we have to give?

Spoil your loved ones with a day that you know they’ll love and some quality time spent. There is nothing like ooh-ing and aah-ing at a beautiful site with your favorite people. PLUS, it is a new memory made and a new experience for you all to have.

This can be done in a lavish way or on a budget. Do some research to see when your local parade is, what events are happening, where the best places are to see Christmas lights, and so on. There will be something available on any budget, so planning an outing is so worth it.

My dad and I at the Denver Botanic gardens (2015).

What I am Grateful For Today:

My sister and I at the Denver Zoo Lights in 2015–a wonderful family outing.

Coming from such a huge family, there was always so much going on during the holiday season. As adults, it takes so much coordination to get the whole family together for any event or occasion. I am so grateful that we all have been able to spend a holiday together along with trips to the Denver Botanic Gardens and Zoo Lights. Each one of these memories are ones I will cherish for my lifetime and I am so grateful!

What are you grateful for today? Let me know in the comments below!

XO,

Sonja

5 Reasons You Should Take Your Dog to Doggy Daycare

I am one of those crazy obsessed dog mom. I am not ashamed about it either. For those of you who have followed along with my blog, you know that having a puppy has been nothing short of a learning experience for me. The one thing I am so happy I got Lady involved in after she had gotten fully vaccinated is doggy daycare. Here’s why:

1) Burn Off Energy

Lady is an Australian Cattle Dog which means she has a lot of energy. When I first adopted her, they told me that she would need a lot of activity. Living in a suburban home without other dogs to play with or cattle to herd means that she needs something else to burn all of the energy she has. Outside of our morning run, doggy daycare has been the best way for Lady to burn off all of that energy.

Usually when I am driving her home, she falls asleep all curled up with her head resting on the center console. It is seriously the sweetest thing ever. I just know that she had so much fun and is so tired from running around with other puppies all day long. Usually, Lady is tired the next day, too!

2) Socializing with Other Dogs

Since Lady is my only pet, she only gets interaction with other dogs when she is at doggy daycare. This has been the most helpful for when we are on a run or hike and Lady sees other dogs. She knows how to interact with them better and is excited rather than threatened.

Also, this has helped when my brothers girlfriend brought her dog, O’Ryan, over. The dogs that I have had growing up were always very territorial, but they were never socialized like Lady has been. It is so nice that my brothers girlfriend could bring her dog over and they could play so well together! I know that this is because of her experience at doggy daycare.

3) It is Hard Work!

Being a dog mom is hard. I am always pouring my attention into my pup, and sometimes you just need a day to get things done. Lady, my puppy, goes to doggy daycare every Tuesday and Thursday even when I don’t have work. This way, I have two days to do whatever needs to be done: whether it be house chores or a lunch with my girl friends.

PLUS, you don’t have to feel guilty for leaving your pup at home. I always feel bad leaving Lady, even for a short period of time. If she is at daycare, I know she is having a blast playing with other dogs while I am running errands or (usually) working. It’s good to give yourself a little bit of a break while spoiling your fur baby.

4) Learning

It is important for your dog to learn to listen to commands from other people. It reiterates what you have been teaching your dog and can help with them learning boundaries. At home, your dog may run up to you and give you kisses, but that isn’t necessarily how they interact with other people. At daycare, they learn how to better interact with dogs and humans!

Also, by having your dog around other people who are experienced with dogs, they will learn how to better interact with other humans. You can always tell when someone knows how to interact with dogs by how they approach your puppy. I remember one time when I was hiking with Lady and this woman asked to pet her. I agreed and warned her that she sometimes gets so excited she’ll jump up, and she just gave her these neck scratches in a way that made her unable to jump. I was so impressed with how Lady responded, and I knew it was because of her time at doggy daycare.

5) Comfort for Boarding

There are times where you have to travel for work or vacation, and your dog cannot come with. In this case, you’ll usually board your dog, right? I honestly don’t know if other dogs are apprehensive when it comes to boarding because Lady boards at the same place she does daycare.

I have only boarded her twice, but Lady will run straight to the back with her tail wagging fiercely. I lie and tell myself that she doesn’t know that she is boarding so that is why she is so excited. I cried the first time I took her to boarding because I didn’t feel like she would miss me. I know that is silly, but it actually is comforting to me now knowing that she is so comfortable at daycare that boarding isn’t so difficult for her.

Since boarding is just something you have to do as a dog owner, it will make it so much easier to have your dog in doggy daycare and used to being in that environment.

Overall Benefits

I am so grateful that I found such a great place to take care of my puppy and give her the type of love that I do when I am not there. If the alternative is to leave her in a crate for hours, I definitely would choose to have her running and playing with other dogs. Definitely look into having your dog in doggy daycare once in a while, especially if your dog is the only pet at home!

What I am Grateful For Today:

I wrote today about doggy daycare because I was just feeling so appreciative of this service. Having other people, outside of my family, that love and care for Lady like I do is so incredible.

What are you grateful for today? Let me know in the comments!

XO,

Sonja Hoff

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