Plan Adjustment Needed

If you would have told me that my entire set of 2020 goals would need to be re-evaluated and potentially re-written a month in to the new year, I would have told you you were crazy! But yet….here I am.

The potential upcoming work changes have really thrown a wrench in my plans.  So much for being ready, right?  I’m chuckling because it’s so ridiculous but yet it’s where I am, and I can either be immobilized or move forward.  Let’s just say I’m a bit of both right now.

So what changes have I temporarily made?

Shop Profits

I have really delved in to meeting and surpassing my monthly sales goal.  I’ve done this by becoming more vigilant in several of the crafting and planner facebook pages and instagram acounts. I am engaging with folks looking for specific items and documenting items to potentially add to the shop.  Any time I have a few minutes, I just take a quick peek in social media.  I do think it’s help drive some consistent traffic to the shop.

Thankfully, it looks like my hyper focus has really helped increase traffic and sales, and I am happy to share that I have surpassed my sales metric for the month!

I’ve also taken a big leap and placed an order for enamel pins that I custom designed. Eek! Several friends encouraged me to proceed with the order even though I was scared about not making back what I spent at a time when I don’t want to take too many risks. However, I think the pins will do well, so fingers crossed they arrive in time for the Chicago Planner Conference next month.

Student Loans

Last year, I made a conscious decision to really throw any extra funds to my students loans to reach a $10K debt reduction in 2019. I did this by throwing any Etsy sales to my loan balance and by paying 4x my minimum balance each month. Because I’m not sure what will happen over the next month, I need to be smarter financially (temporarily).  So rather than paying 4x the minimum, I went down to 2x my minimum. I’m hoping to pay just enough to cover the month’s interest.

I’m also now saving any Etsy deposits to my checking account. The goal would be to throw them back to my student loan balance once I’m feeling more secure. For now, we’ll just hold on to any funds for living expenses.

Reading Goal

Probably the only goal I can control – ha! I finished a book I started last year and am about half way through my second.  Instead of streaming something while I print and cut shop orders, I sometimes just read.  Makes me happy because reaching a goal metric feels good!

Fitness Goal

Well, this one has taken a pause due to the prep needed for the Chicago Planner Conference so that’s temporary.  I’m eating out less and trying to make better choices overall.  I’m not eating perfectly but the eats have been so much healthier than they have in quite some time.  I just need to be better about the water consumption – I’m still living off caffeine.

How I’m feeling

Truthfully, I’m starting to get a little anxious, but I’m trying to be proactive and positive about what will come next.  I don’t want to jump the gun at work just yet because I really have learned so much here, but I have to be prepared in case there isn’t a spot for my skill set with the new company.  So I’m peeking around at LinkedIn and networking where I can.  No leaps yet but there are some interesting roles that have sparked some interest in me.  Change is hard…change is not fun…but change can be amazing.  So I’m embracing it as best I can and pushing forward with my goals!

 

2020 Goal #1: Double My Shop Profits

Job update: no change in employment status yet and no update from our new owner.  I’m in a holding pattern per say but know that I need to start updating the resume and really sending out job applications as a just in case. Some of my current thoughts include:

  1. I really have enjoyed this new field and would like to continue growing in my role and understanding of the insurance world.
  2. I really like the people I work with but know that there is no guarantee that I would work with any of them once the plans are finalized for the acquisition.
  3. I’d really like the opportunity to learn from this much larger Health Plan.  My current agency only serves the Medicaid population but the new organization is much larger and a more comprehensive plan (meaning it includes several lines of business like Medicare).  I know there would be so much to learn quickly and that excites my nerdy brain.
  4. Change is hard and scary.  I don’t want things to change but know that they will regardless of where I am so I need to get past the nerves.

I can’t predict what’s about to happen. I can only predict how I will respond and plan for calm transitions either way!

In the meantime (while I continue semi-ignoring the possible layoff), I’ll share some of my strategy for achieving my 2020 goals.  My first goal is around my Etsy shop.  It’s ironic that I listed this first on January 6th’s blog post not knowing what was coming later that day at my day job.  I had fun designing and vending last year, and I feel like I’m finally starting to understand what people want and anticipating trends while simultaneously carving out a little niche for my style of design.  The sticker making market is pretty saturated, but I’ve seen some of the gaps and am hopefully hitting the target when I try to tackle one of those gaps.

Because of this, I wanted to make my 2020 goal the year where I step out of my comfort zone marketing wise and adding financial goals to my shop.  Having a day job, I wanted to be realistic about what I thought I could achieve, so I have initially set my mark at doubling my 2019 profits and taking a leap to participate in the largest planner conference in Chicago as a vendor.

Now, this number isn’t huge by any stretch of the imagination, but it does mean that I need specific sales goals for each month of the year.  Something I have never had before.  20 days in to January, and I can happily state that I’m almost at that goal (which is blowing my mind).  I don’t feel like I’ve done that much more than I did in 2019, but I guess I have been much more intentional about sharing my items in specific Facebook communities while also starting to be more inclusive of the various planner sizes out there.

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Up until now, I had focused on planning for me and the types of planners I used.  I told myself I needed to be able to use my stickers first (which is still true for the most part), but I had to realize that what I want and use may not be what’s in most demand.  So I needed to listen.  I’ve interacted more with customers in Etsy and via Instagram. I’ve started designing based on “wish lists” that people post in various groups – posts where people we say “I wish someone had a sticker for x y z.” These minor steps have proven to be successful.  In fact, my most sold item currently is my Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge that I decided to post in a planner group geared to people who plan reading goals.  Yes…entire planners filled with reading goals.  I’m in awe of the number of books these individuals read in a year and the variety of reading challenges out there.  Some are so much fun and I aspire to read as voraciously as some of the members in the group one day.  Right now, I’m lucky if I ready a book every other month!

I’ve also posted a public calendar so that my customers can know when to come back and see what’s been listed in the shop.  I have’t been totally on schedule but it is keeping me focused on intentional posting and designing.  It’s really helped me interact more regularly which is good for staying on people’s radar.

While I didn’t expect to go all in on the shop this year to really push it, the universe may have other plans for me professionally.  As terrifying as that is financially, I’m at least having fun using the creative side of my brain more.  Adding some sales metrics and marketing goals will help my analytic brain stay fresh and focused, and I’m even considering setting higher targets based on my day-job scenario in case the worst comes true!

But first things first…let’s continue adding to the savings nest for now…until we know more.

 

Here we go again….

Well, if you would have told me that my week would have panned out the way it did last week (my birthday week no less), I wouldn’t have believed you!

Last Monday, I shared my first post in three years. It felt great to get back on here, reflect on my journey, and start planning for 2020.  So you can only imagine my surprise when I walked in to work to learn that our company had been acquired by a larger company.  My first corporate merger – oy!

What does this mean for me? Well, realistically this probably means that I will be out of work soon-ish.  This new company is much larger than my current one but my department is not a revenue generating component that would require additional team members when the company grows.  Compliance departments tend to be small teams in most companies – so I need to prepare for the worst case scenario.

What I can say is that how I react to losing my job (if that happens) will be very different this time around.  I’ve spent the last three years really focusing on reducing my debt and increasing my net worth.  I’m not happy at the prospect of being unemployed again but at least I don’t feel sucker punched like I did last time.

I wanted to use this post to share some of my action plans to achieving some of my 2020 goals but I have a little revising to do already – ha!

Am I panicked? Not really.

Am I nervous? Of course.

What will I focus on next?

  1. Updating my resume and LinkedIn profile
  2. Curbing any unnecessary spending
  3. Putting some monthly number goals to the shop as my target to put any profits in to savings

Any other advice out there?  Any job leads for me? Send them my way!  Kidding (but not really – ha!).

I’m READY

Well…isn’t this terribly embarrassing?!  I knew I hadn’t posted in awhile but I didn’t expect it to be over 3 years ago!

So much has happened since my last post so here’s the mini recap – the good and ugly of it all.  I found my next career path in 2017 – a major switch from my 15 year career in the nonprofit sector to the world of health insurance.  It’s been a steep learning curve, but it was the intellectual push I needed.  I’ve learned so much and secured a professional certification last year to help me continue growing in the Corporate Compliance sector. Compliance has helped me marry my love for planning and organizing standardized work flows and procedures.  Yes…I thrive on rule following and training.  Ha!

I am most embarrassed to write that I let me fitness journey stop and basically eliminated all my hard work.  Losing my job unexpectedly and panicking about how long it would take me to find my next role, made me deep dive in sending out resumes and eating the cheapest possible which often translated in to the worst possible options.  Top that with then making a major career shift at a time when you had to catch up quickly and go through a major audit and ALL WORKOUTS were cancelled.  I’m not proud of myself but am allowing myself some grace to learn about how I reacted unconsciously so that I don’t make that mistake again when faced with challenging situations.

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I launched an Etsy shop in 2018 dedicated to my decorative planner interests.  I didn’t really make any income in 2018 from it, but I’m happy to say that 2019 saw enough sales to finally make a small profit.  I’ve been participating in some larger marketing opportunities (like conference sponsorship), and I’m really excited about the confirmed plans for 2020.  I’m nervous about how big some of my plans are for 2020, but it’s time to keep pushing the creative side of me.

Lastly, I launched a YouTube channel.  I had this crazy notion that I could get monetized quickly and post frequently.  The goal was to use any funds received to pay down my student loans quicker (my only current debt). Boy was I wrong!  Not only are YouTube monetization parameters very hard to achieve, editing and filming is also much more work than I expected.  I tried to do everything at once and YouTube eventually fell off the priority list.  I’m hoping to use that platform more consistently this year to increase awareness of the shop and to do something else that I love – teach others how to craft from the comfort of their own home.  So stay tuned for videos!

So let’s just say that 2017-2019 can be better known as my rebranding years and 2020 is my relaunch.

Because you know what?  This year, I’m READY for it all!  It’s time to commit to my health, to my financial wellness and to my creative happiness.  Rather than waiting for things to be perfectly planned out or to be fully cushioned financially, I’m going to take the leap and have faith that I have prepared enough and just have fun with it all.  READY is my 2020 Word of the Year – my motto. Whenever in doubt, I will remind myself that I’m READY.

So what am I READY to do this year?  Sooooooooooooooo much!

  1. At minimum, double my shop’s 2019 profits in 2020
  2. Pay off $15K of my student loans
  3. Read 20 books (one of my smaller 20 for 2020 goals)
  4. Lose 50 pounds

There are so many other little things I want to do, but these are the four biggies I will track and report about.  These four will help me stay creatively happy, create more room for fun (like travel) and get me physically stronger to achieve more and more!

What’s your plan or motto for 2020?

 

Fit Latina in the Making – New Blog

For those of you that first came upon my blog to get crafting ideas…I want to apologize. My health goals clearly took over my life (and they needed to) which means that they took over this blog.

I’m nowhere near finished on that journey, so I have decided to separate that content in to a new blog so that I can expand what I write about.  I would love to have you join me there too!  And let me know if there are things you would like me to post about…I’m happily taking suggestions!

Fit Latina In The Making Blog

Fit Latina in the Making: So I Took a Break

I know this post is long overdue. I imagined coming back and celebrating the achievement of my election goal while talking about the progress since I last wrote. Well, unfortunately there has been no progress to celebrate, and I got a much needed scolding by Ray last night.

You see, my break turned in to a month long “vacation” of doing nothing.

Thankfully, I have not put on the weight I lost during this break but it’s not for lack of trying. Because when I say break, I mean a total break. I haven’t really watched what I’ve been eating, and I’ve definitely only been on my elliptical a handful of times since November 2nd. Sure, maybe I’ve already trained my body to make better choices overall which is why I haven’t gained weight, but I definitely indulged far more than I should this past month.

But why did I take this break? We all deserve a moment to relax and enjoy success, right? After reaching my goal weight and winning my election bet, I treated myself to a piece of delicious pie at my favorite local bakery. I had earned the right to indulge a bit so I did.

But then I just stopped completely.

Was I injured, no?

Was I busy?  Unfortunately not as I had been laid off a month before.

Was I frantically interviewing?  Not really…as the holidays impacted interview time availability.

The only explanation I have for the total stop is that I probably was a little more bummed than I care to admit over being laid off. You see, I don’t have the type of personality that stresses about things for too long. I’m very rational, and I take all moments in life as learning opportunities and/or fate. Being laid off sucks (especially when you loved what you were doing), but I told myself that it must be a sign that I got too comfortable and needed to push myself more.  I thought I really believed that, but I think my subconscious needed more time to wallow than I allowed….so I think I just stopped lots of things. My house became a disaster zone, and I stopped participating in the one thing that I was so very proud of for finally achieving.

The funny thing is that I’m actually having a really great week personally (and potentially professionally), so I had already started to feel energized and was in the process of getting my shit in order (at home) when Ray checked in. The minute I saw it was him, I cringed because I knew I was going to have to tell him that I had done nothing and it would disappoint him. I made a promise to him and myself that I would never lie, so my stomach sank.

And then it happened…I had to tell him the truth.

Tears rolling down my face as I responded. I know how much he has invested in me, and I know this is a shared experience. I had earned his trust to work out on my own ages ago, and now that I was feeling like myself again, I was afraid I had lost it. We had a tough but good conversation. He hasn’t given up on me nor has he lost trust in me….we just needed a plan.

I know that I need to hold myself more accountable and that posting about my journey really helps. I’m still down 40 pounds but I still have a long way to go. It’s time to remind myself that there is always a day one. The key is to not stop fighting for that day one to help you begin again so let’s get back to this journey!

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Fit Latina in the Making: First Goal Status Update

I was traveling this weekend and didn’t get to post a very important update!

I’ve realized this past month, that there are a lot more people reading this little blog than I ever thought.  I’ve had people asking me (and asking Ray) if I was going to reach my first goal on October 1st of losing 30 pounds.

I’ve even learned from Ray that some of his other clients are asking him how I’m reaching my targets so quickly? First – let’s keep this real. I have a lot of weight to lose and years of a very sedentary lifestyle. What I’m doing now is making changes happen quickly so my rate of loss isn’t abnormal…it’s just a reflection of how changing my diet and exercise schedule is affecting my health. I’m sure to plateau eventually.  For now, I’ll take this downward weight spiral!

So did I reach my first goal?

The weekend of travel had me super nervous because Ray was being a stickler about the date. I had to send a picture of the scale’s reading on October 1st. I’m used to weighing myself in the mornings in the comfort of my own home and like many people probably do…with very little clothes on!  I mean, let’s be honest here…every pound counts right? So I sure as heck take the clothes off to weigh myself every morning.

I knew the hotel room probably wouldn’t have a scale, so it meant I was going to have to weigh myself in the hotel gym. I obviously didn’t want to get kicked out for indecent exposure, so I was going to have to do this fully clothed.  Would I reach my goal? I was still almost 4 pounds away as of Monday and had had a few plateaus lately so I was nervous.

I spent all week getting very serious about food and limiting my calories. I was going to reach this target. If it meant going a little more extreme, than so be it. I was not about to lose this bet and was going to stop any sort of little indulging.

On September 30th, I got up early and forced myself to go to the gym at the hotel. I stepped on the scale fully clothed and prayed as I moved the bar to see if I was close to my goal. What did the scale say? EXACTLY 30 pounds gone…which meant I was probably beyond my target based on how I was weighing myself at home. So you know I was super motivated to get my workout done that morning, and I did it with a huge smile on my face!

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The biggest challenge came that night- the day before my goal day!

I was invited to a reception in DC where I would know the majority of the people. We were celebrating our part in helping President Obama getting elected and that meant champagne and hors d’oeuvres would be a given, and a late night of celebratory drinks would continue in to the next morning.  I was going to have to make some conscious decisions about what I put in my body that night.

I ate zero carbs all day and pre-gamed with a protein bar before the event. I knew that I had limited my calories that day, so I let myself indulge in one glass of champagne at the party, but then I kept to zero carb options and told myself that it didn’t matter how late I would be out…I would be working out the next morning.

After strolling in at 3:30am, my body was screaming in pain as I rolled out of bed to go to the hotel gym. I was dehydrated and exhausted but I had to see if I had reached my goal despite the evening’s shenanigans. I was confident the morning before, but I had butterflies in my stomach as I stepped on the scale.

Imagine the look on my face when the scale said I was 2.5-3 pounds lighter!

32 pounds gone on October 1st?  WHAT?!

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I didn’t want to scare you all with a color version of this picture….the dark circles under my eyes and leftover make-up from the night before were quite scary. Ha!

So you know that means…

Ray will be registering to vote this week! 

We both celebrated the progress all day through various text messages, and I took my final day in DC to indulge in a few things.  I had some ice cream (kiddie size) from a fancy gourmet shop AND I had popcorn at the movie theater where we killed some time before out late flight out.

So on to the next phase….42 pounds must be gone by November 1st in order to get Ray to cast his first vote. I won’t be telling him whom to vote for, but I do hope he does his homework and votes in what he believes in. I’m happy to provide resources on why I think he should align his votes with mine…but I won’t judge him for not doing so (at least not too much!).

 

Fit Latina in the Making: Side Lunge Leg Raises (Yowsers!)

I knew it was only a matter of time before I found another exercise that I could equate with the burpee.  It’s a move I saw Ray film for a future month’s session of Bodyburn. I can’t even remember what it’s called because as he’s describing how he wants me to set up, I exclaimed: “Are we doing that one exercise I saw you do?!”

He just smirked back at me and shook his head affirming that I was about to do a round of these awful exercises.  When done in superhuman form, they look like this:

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Let’s just say my leg NEVER made it as high as Ray’s, and I slowed down as I pushed through to complete all 40 reps per leg.  But just like everything else we do, I completed all 80 of these side lunge leg raises (what I’m calling this evil move) and was a bit shocked that I was able to do it.

The best part was the fitness realization I had in between sets. 

I would sit back on my knees to rest up my legs, and I realized I wasn’t in any sort of pain. In the past, I used to feel a lot of strain if I sat on my knees like that. It was not a position I could sit in long, let alone get up and move around easily after spending some time in that position.  Apparently, that issue is now gone (like a few others in my life) and that helps fuel my motivation to keep going at this.

 

 

Fit Latina in the Making: How I Now Cope with Stress

If you’ve been following my blog (or know me personally), you know I’m not a person who let’s stress take over their emotions often. However, I’m human and some situations can sometimes make me forget how to manage the emotions best because the universe can suck and really hand you some curveballs.

I have consciously made a decision to work in a field where my job is to help provide comfort and care to families of medically fragile children. Thankfully, most of my days are filled with happiness and celebrations for the milestones achieved by the incredible medical team that is taking care of these very special families. But there are days that are awful, days that are sad and days that can make you very mad at the universe. It’s a part of what I do, and I’ve learned to manage those days well.

However, nothing can really prepare you for hearing the news that the person who is sick is someone who you care about and I had a weekend the other day where I received the news that it wasn’t just one person but it was three devastating diagnoses. I found my anger building slowly all weekend.  It conjured up a lot of emotions and memories of a friend who lost her battle to this disease 2 years ago. How I chose to deal with that surge of sadness and anger surprised me.

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As most people probably do, I would often turn to a source of comfort to try and lessen the sting. This would often translate in to a tasty dessert, a crazy delicious but not healthy meal or an alcoholic beverage. But I didn’t want any of these this time around. I was mad and knew that if I went my normal route, I would be even more pissed that I had also affected my weight loss progress.

So I turned to my favorite hobby. I walked around my house looking for a craft project I could complete. This is no small fete in the craft wasteland of my second bedroom. I have LOADS of supplies and several unfinished projects. Each would take too much time and I just needed to shake this off.

I knew that I had a workout to complete on my own, so I reached out to Ray to find out what he wanted me to work on. You can imagine my frustration when he said he was giving me the night off to rest my joints! I mean it was almost comical that I found myself upset that I didn’t even have a workout to do. I needed something else to be pissed about, and I realized I wanted that to be some sort of evil exercise.

So I took matters in to my own hands and I got on the treadmill. While it made me sweat, it didn’t help me shake off the emotional baggage so I did something I never thought I would do on my own….BURPEES!

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I made myself do 1, then 2, then 3….until I reached 15. I was pissed as I got down on the floor each time and eventually just started to channel my anger on completing the number I had set in my head. I used my frustration to power me through my most hated exercise and it felt good. When I finished the 15, I had to take some time to catch my breath and then I realized what I had just done.

All I could do was giggle because the whole thing was so ludicrous but yet so right. I have three women in my life who are fighting for their lives, so it’s only fair that I do the same and not take for granted that I have an opportunity here to give myself the best chance at a long life. My few minutes of discomfort will never compare to their journey but it finally let me shake off the rut I had found myself in so that I could instead focus on how I wanted to support them.

At the end of the day, my anger was stupid. I won’t negate that I have a right to feel angry or sad but their battle is not about me, and I will not be a good source of comfort to them if I let my emotions make me feel like the universe is being unfair to me.  I am able bodied and “healthy” enough to do what I can to support them. However, I just may need to knock out a few burpees from time to time because cancer fucking sucks.

 

 

Fit Latina in the Making: “OMG. Aren’t you the Girl from Chicago?”

This weekend, I had the painful pleasure of taking my first trip out to Boston to work out at the Club with Ray and his team. They rebranded and refurbished the studio so I had quite the introduction to what a Bodyburn session is truly like. Let’s just say this, I don’t normally like classes, but I can definitely see the appeal of this place. The atmosphere and energy of the participants and instructors was not like something I had ever experienced.

First – the instructors are insane. They are fun, their bodies are sick and they know how to encourage you when you feel you can’t do one second more. I mean, look at this crazy bunch of beautiful people!

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I arrived on Friday and was immediately put to work. Yup, I somehow became the weekend’s unpaid intern – ha! I helped put the finishing touches on a few things and had the chance to finally meet the team. I haven’t laughed this hard in quite some time.  I was immediately at ease, welcomed with lots of hugs and knew that I had to set aside any nerves about my first class the next day.

So there I am watching as the first class comes in. I was scoping out everyone’s fitness level visually and starting to psych myself out about having to stand next to people who I perceived to be more fit for an entire class. But I’m from the Midwest, so I often smile at people to acknowledge them when I make eye contact. Imagine my surprise when one of those persons gets this strange look on their face and immediately comes up to me saying:

“Oh my God.  You’re her, right?  The girl from the blog?  From Chicago?”

I burst in to a huge smile and laughed as I affirmed that it was in fact me. This happened SEVERAL times the entire weekend and never stopped surprising me. These complete strangers were reading my blog and following my story.  What?!

I heard words of encouragement and learned that some of them had started back up at the gym because of my story. To say that I was humbled is an understatement. I’m just trying to make healthy changes in my life and have decided to share my journey because it keeps me accountable. I didn’t expect to truly be inspiring others – especially people who had never met me!

So I quickly told myself to put the nerves away and anxiously watched the first class wrap up.  There was a DJ blasting tunes for the Bodyburn class and my best friend was going to follow me from station to station (she was going to be my “buddy” but had hurt her back the day before and needed to rest). Once my class officially started, I didn’t have a chance to even stress about whether or not I could keep up with my classmates. There was new equipment and frequent changes from cardio to strength. I just had to focus and keep moving.

And I did it.  Every single exercise.

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Was it hard?  Yes!  My body started to remind me very quickly that these were new exercises and that my muscles were not used to it but I was able to do almost all of it without a ton of modification. There were two machines that I had a little trouble with and one of the push up exercises had to be done on my knees, but I didn’t stop moving. I was a hot, sweaty, exhausted but happy mess at the end of class.

Do I think I would have been able to do this class a month ago?  Yes. How do I know this? I saw that there were various fitness levels in each session and the instructors were there to help anyone that needed a little help. I even had the honor of seeing an 80 year old woman show up to take the class cold turkey.

She kicked ass and I watched in pure amazement.

I remember smiling and thinking that I would like to be her in 40 years and that means I just need to keep at this.

But first…I’m really hoping some of my skype sessions turn in to the dance party I witnessed this weekend because I couldn’t stop laughing at Ray dancing away as he watched his team run the show and the class participants getting the work done. You could tell he was proud of what was happening and he deserved to be that happy. It was an incredible weekend and a sign of the fun that will follow. And no…I’m not saying working out is fun. I’m just saying the Bodyburn by Ray is a fun place 🙂

And of course I had to put my crafty skills to use for this first trip out east by making myself a custom shirt to wear. I’ll keep practicing my Baaaahston accent while I continue with the workouts.

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