A Woman In Progress, Redefining GOFITJO

I’m back in NY in 3 days and I can’t believe it. 😬 I never started traveling as much as I do until last year and I’m so grateful that a large majority of it is because of my blog and opportunities via social media.

GFJ_BR_038.jpg

A few nights ago my teenage daughter looked at me while we were having dinner and said, “Mom, I’m so proud of you. I remember a few years ago when you had no motivation in anything. And to see what you’ve done not only with your health, but everything else is great.” **insert all the tears** 2018 was not an easy year for me despite what you’ve seen on the gram. We moved this year to a new city, new home, my daughters had to make new friends, work dramatically shifted for me, and I’m finding myself in yet another state of “what do I want to do next with my career? How do I level up for me and family?”

As many of you know when I lost my 9-5 job in 2016 I immediately jumped back into school to get my health and nutrition coaching certification. My coaching practice has always been focused on helping women redefine health and strengthen the relationship that have with themselves. What I didn’t anticipate was so many of my coaching calls were more deeply rooted in personal development and relationships. I guess it makes sense when all I want to do is help people live life as their best selves and to be in love with the person they are becoming. Which is why the entire term #womaninprogress has been engrained in my heart and mind all year long. We are all a work in progress and a beautiful masterpiece all at once.

Change is hard and I don’t think society makes it easy for us to acknowledge that. This year has been a fucking rollercoaster ride for me. I’ve shed many tears of happiness and many tears of frustration, fear, and sadness. I felt like I lost my desire to exercise as much because of how much emotional stress I’ve been under and often times the feeling of imposter syndrome runs through my veins. I’ve shifted a lot of my focus into making sure that my family is well taken care of especially because my husband has been dealing with his own set of personal growth challenges which has taken a toll on his business as well. All this to say I feel like there are times where I’m crumbling between my own finger tips.

What keeps me going? I’m a woman in progress. A woman who is in the process of learning to know, accept and love herself on all levels: Mind, Body and Spirit. A woman who, because she focuses on personal growth and self awareness, experiences a life increasingly filled with peace, love, joy, passion and fun. A woman that understands that she has unlimited capacity to make her life anything she wants. A woman who is inspired to give to those around her, a sense of gratitude and abundance.

Being in progress never feels easy. There’s this internal struggle I feel sometimes with my thoughts and what I want to present to the world. Mainly because I’m still in the process of processing those thoughts and haven’t arrived to any clear conclusion that I felt would make sense to people reading or understanding. Dare I say I feared judgement. Even writing that feels icky and gross because here I am constantly wanting to guide you through standing strong against judgement. None the less I’m only human and as a human I still have feelings and emotions and its messy and beautiful all at the same time.

GFJ_BR_047.jpg

I guess I’m sharing this with you all because I was having this deep conversation with my daughter this morning about growth, life, relationships, travel, and work. She expressed the pride she felt for herself to have overcome such an emotional challenge year having to switch schools and make new connections. As she and I were talking about life, I couldn’t help but borrow some of that feeling of pride she had for herself and look inwards at my own life over the past year. Yes, there has been some difficult moments and moments I felt like a failure. At times I’ve felt very weak mentally and physically, but overall I’ve overcome a great deal this past year.

An area I feel like I failed miserably was taking my readers along this year of growth and change. I think mostly because I feared what it would look like to you all once I started to shift my focus to all the primary foods in our lives: relationships, spirituality, career, and physical activity rather than writing or sharing about nutrition and meal prep tips. Would people be receptive to this growth mindset that I’ve adopted into all areas of my life?

A lot of this change happened back in 2016 when Instagram curated my Best of Nine for that year and all that was selected were progress photos. I remember thinking to myself I AM MORE than just progress photos. There's so much more to GOFITJO than someone who works out for aesthetics or weight loss. Life's challenges comes in different shapes and sizes and creating the best moments in your life is up to you. I hope as I get back to some of my roots of writing from the heart that you’ll join me along for the journey. I have no idea where its going to take me, but I do know that I’m bringing you along my journey of a woman in progress.

GFJ_BR_064.jpg

What does this all mean for my blog?

For almost half the year of 2018 I was going back and forth on rebranding, a completely silly idea considering that I had just rebranded my blog with Go Live HQ in October 2017. What I think it means is that as a reader you’ll still see my journey with using fitness as a tool to help me get my life together, to help me gain inner strength for my challenges, and to help me keep my anxiety and depression under control. But what I think it also means is that I’ll start to open up other areas in my life to you with a bit more of a raw and unfiltered take getting back to inviting you to the depths of my thoughts as I explore the different areas of women’s wellbeing and health such as emotional wellbeing, relationships, and dare I say, sexual health!

What I’ve learned in 2018 is that so much of our well-being as women is deeply rooted in the areas that we’re just getting comfortable talking about. When I opened up about my marriage and its ups and downs on Instagram and my blog, I got a huge wave of response from my audience. That blog post was the most read blog post in 2018 and I was shocked. I’ve always believed that how we approach our relationships in life whether they be romantic, professional, or personal is a direct reflection of the relationship we have within ourselves. And the relationship we have with ourselves directly affect our mental, emotional, and physical health.

There’s so much to unpack with direction and its exciting for me and extremely scary as well. I think from a society standpoint we’re still learning to define what health means to us on an individual level. Now I’m throwing a whole set of unconventionally discussed topics to the table to bring in a much more expansive discussion on health. I’m excited. It feels right, but also so damn scary.

I’d love to hear your thoughts either in the comments below or on Instagram.





How to manifest your own reality

Did you know that you have the ability to manifest your own reality?

 Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

The first time someone told me this several years ago I thought “ummm go somewhere with that woo woo...” 🙅🏽‍♀️ But the last couple of years has really taught me to open up my mind, heart, and whole self to the idea that manifesting our desired reality is possible and it starts with conscious decisions. As I sit here on set I can’t help but think about the steps I used to manifest my dreams and I wanted to share them with you.⠀⠀⠀⠀

1. Have a vision.

You don’t have to know the exact plans, but have a vision for what you desire and get specific. Last year I wrote a list of goals: personal and professional that were extremely specific. So write down 10-20 specific things you desire. These can be little dreams or big dreams. Me personally, I like to think expansively and large and tend to write down dreams that are out there, after-all anything is possible.

2. Ask the universe.

Meditation and prayer are definitely keys to having a clear line to the universe, our highest selves, God, or whatever you believe in, but what I mean about asking the universe is to talk bravely about your goals or dreams. We often times keep our dreams to ourselves because of fear of judgment. It’s vulnerable to share our desires, but the ability to speak openly and bravely about desires gives the universe an opportunity to help align you and your goals with the right people or experiences that can help you get to what you desire.

3. Get intentional about your actions.

Work towards your vision even if you don’t have the exact plan. When you get focused and intentional, you tell energy where to go. While there’s nothing wrong with getting distracted from time to time, keep in mind our dreams require a certain amount of energy. Ask yourself where is my energy being directed to?

4. Trust the process and have a strong belief in your desires.

We all have self-doubt, no one is immune to it. But if you lack the belief in your dreams even by one bit then chances are you’re blocking your own manifestation. Dig deep and try to understand where the self doubt is coming from or where it stems from so that you can change it.

5. Be grateful and keep your vibrations high!

Gratitude keeps us in a present state of mind when we’re actively working towards our desires. This is so important because every step you take towards your desires is a growth opportunity to learn from. Some lessons or challenges may not work out the way we expected, but it can keep your vibrations high by focusing on gratitude then you can stay unattached to the outcome.

IMG_0389.JPG

Hope these help you manifest your dreams. But now I’m curious what steps do you use to manifest your own. Share them with me in the comments below.

JUST ASK JO: How Do I Balance Blogging and Family Life

QUESTION: 

First, Ive been following you for awhile—I absolutely love your mission and passion you have for what you do and how much love you have for your family. Truly inspiring!

Secondly, I am a new mama and have recently started blogging, but I am having such trouble keeping my motivation to work on it (mostly because of being so focused on my sweet baby). I was wondering if you had any advice on balancing your work and family life, and how to stay motivated? 

Much love and thanks, 
Kenzie 

justaskjo_vol10.jpg

ANSWER:

The ever so elusive question of balancing work and family life. First off, congrats on your blog. I know the excitement it feels to start jotting down thoughts, writing, and creating content that comes from the heart. It’s overwhelming at times especially when it begins to feel like you’re just standing in a dust storm trying to make sense of it all. Balance can feel like the same thing which is why I believe in harmony and taking things one day at a time.

The focus and motivation to work on my blog, create content, and to write ebb and flow. It’s probably one of the largest struggles that bloggers rarely talk about. If you’re like me than writing is a form of therapy and can almost be cathartic. Sometimes in your own writing you get overwhelmed add that with family life it’s a perfect cocktail for chaos.

EP2_0562.jpg

So here are some tangible things you can do to help balance out work/family life:

Create a schedule that works for you

If you’re freelancing, work for yourself, or have the flexibility to work from home at your 9-5 make sure to create a schedule that works for you, your work, and your family. Since working for myself I’ve adopted a 10AM - 6PM work day on most days and I love it!


My ideal day typically looks like this:

download.jpeg
  • 6:00AM - wake up

  • 6:30AM - go to the gym

  • 8:00AM - get back home. Hubs takes kids to school (Jonathan took on the role of stay-at-home dad when he went full time with his photography business over 8 years ago. So a lot of the drop off/pick up routines are still managed by him)

  • 9:00AM - breakfast/catch up with the hubs on the day

  • 9:30/10:00AM - start my work day

  • 12:00PM - lunch AWAY FROM MY DESK!

  • 6:00PM - dinner time

  • 7:00PM - unplugged hang time with the fam. This is so important to us and something we do our best to uphold.

  • 10:00PMish - bedtime and rinse and repeat

Set boundaries!!!

I cannot stress how important creating boundaries are for work/life balance. Boundaries are not walls. Boundaries are doors and you have the option and choice to open those doors whenever you want/need to in order to adjust to life’s constant changes. For me, boundaries aren’t actually put into place for the family, they are actually in place because I tend to be a work-a-holic and this helps me to keep my harmony while juggling both work and family.

One boundary that is pretty strict for me is the amount of time I spend working. I try really hard not to put in more than 30-35 hours a week of active work time. As a blogger/social media influencer I often get invited to social gatherings and that’s all part of the role of marketing. I also roll that time up into my work week so I don’t feel like I’m a complete slave to my work.

The other boundary that’s relatively firm is the day(s) I take coaching sessions with clients. Typically those days are Tuesday and Thursday and it really works well for me to keep that consistent.

The not so tangible…

Creative Motivation

The motivation needed to focus on work can be really difficult when you have young kids and all you want to do is hang with the babes. Listen to your instincts! If right now your focus is on your sweet baby then let it be. They are only little for a small period of time. But if you’re really looking to find motivation to write and work on your blog then maybe blocking out time to focus on two days of blogging/writing is what might work best.

Motivation can both be found external and internal. External motivation is when someone behaves in a way that is outside of that person. It often comes from parents, boss, coworkers, family, and salary or promotion (advancement). Internal motivation engages in a behavior that is personally motivating. Identifying which motivation is fueling your desire to work on your blog could be the first step to breaking out of this work slump you’re experiencing.

Celebrate the small wins!

Once you’ve broken out that slump, make sure to celebrate you. This helps create positive reinforcement to the steps you’re making towards your blogging/work goals. Celebrate even if the step happens to be opening your laptop, writing a few words, and closing it 20 minutes later. Celebrate the small wins, this applies to every area of your life.

Give yourself grace

This by far is my most important tip on regaining motivation in any area of life. Discipline gets you started on the journey, grace and self love keeps you going. Life is going to get messy and motivation, creativity, and the desire to pour into your hustle will ebb and flow. Don’t beat yourself up too much. Each area in life has a season and just like seasons they come and go.

Hope this helps!



JUST ASK JO: How are your photos so perfect!?

This week's JUST ASK JO is another one on photography and it's short and sweet. I've shared some technical knowledge on photography in my first blog post on the Basics of Photography, Then on the second JUST ASK JO post I went a little more in-depth on equipment and gear. This one we'll talk a little bit more about visual creativity and where I draw my inspiration from.

justaskjo_vol6.png

Question:

Hey Jo!

How are your photos so perfect?

- Nina


I'm flattered you think my photography work is perfect because like most artists and creators I'm really hard on myself. Along with having a strong understanding of lighting, composition, and the type of camera I'm using; I'm always looking for ways to improve my work and train my eye to see things differently.

I once read in a book, “Don’t look. See!” At first, I didn't get what that meant, but the more I kept repeating it in my mind when I was out and about I started to "see". I've always had a love for street photography. To me when I see it, it's life in the moment nothing that's overly curated or posed. It's truly a stolen moment in time. When I shoot weddings and couples this is how I approach my subjects.  

“Don’t look. See!”
— Henry Carroll

I've been a professional wedding photographer for over 9 years now. As a wedding photographer, I'm constantly shooting with different lighting scenarios and have that extra pressure of not being able to recreate a shot or moment again because a wedding day is just one day out of their lifetime. Since I'm not huge on using flash or artificial light I really have to rely on how natural light affects what I'm photographing. 

Light is your subject

One other thing is to learn to see light as your subject and observe it frequently! Look at how light affects the space around you and the objects around you. Notice how it draws out certain textures, colors, and detail. Does it attract you to look at a specific point on the subject or scene? You've got to start looking at light the way you look at life, you've got to take it all in.  Below are some lighting examples.

The photos below are all taken by me unless mentioned otherwise. You can see more on my VSCO.

Hard Light

 Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset
 Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset
 Processed with VSCO with a6 preset
 Processed with VSCOcam with e5 preset

Hard light is probably my favorite light to shoot. I love the contrast between the light and the darkness. It's dramatic, a little unforgiving, and exposes all. It creates depth and packs an intense punch.

Soft Light

 Processed with VSCO with a6 preset
 Processed with VSCO with a6 preset
 Processed with VSCO with a6 preset
 Processed with VSCO with a6 preset
 Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Soft light is more even and can still cast a shadow like hard light, but is not as intense because the light is coming from multiple directions. It's one of my favorite lighting scenarios to photograph portraits and food because it still provides a little bit of depth, but you have the ability to still see the things that are in the shadows. The eye naturally travels through the entire photograph rather than in hard light it might only travel where the light wants you to travel. In soft light, you view the whole story rather than bits and pieces.

Learn to see light as your subject and observe it frequently!

One thing to note is that soft light can be flat which means that there are no shadows or highlights to create depth in an image leaving the photography to feel very matter of fact. Compare the two below and see if you can notice which one looks and feels flat while one makes your eye travel throughout the photograph?

 Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset
 Processed with VSCOcam with e6 preset

My favorite soft light to photograph in would be most commonly known as open shade. Open shade is found in an area that is shaded from direct sunlight but is not falling directly on your subject. The light is typically reflecting onto your subject.  Some photographers emulate this by using a lighting device called a softbox, but you can also do this by using window light

Here's an experiment: place your subject at different angles to the light. Notice how the shadows change, giving your subject a different feeling.

There are plenty of other lighting scenarios and each photographer might call it a different name, but keeping it simple allows you to be open to learning how to play with it as you see it. Be aware of how natural light changes throughout the day. Just like my nutrition philosophy on not labeling food good or bad, I do the same with light. A lot of photographers and creators get stuck in thinking that the best light is golden-hour and although its an absolutely stunning light to shoot in, you can limit your creativity by only wanting to shoot during this time of the day. 

Photo composition tip: Get close. Then get closer. 

When taking photos I always think of the story the subject in the photo is telling. Even inanimate objects tell a story. So here's what I mean. 

 1. take a photo of the entire scene

1. take a photo of the entire scene

 2. then get close

2. then get close

 3. then get closer

3. then get closer

 4. even closer.

4. even closer.

When you start to see things in this manner you can begin to create a better story with what your eye is trying to convey. If you're ever with me when I'm shooting something, you'll hear me say things like "We need to give it some life." In other words, give it a story to tell. You can do this by stepping in and getting more intimate with your subject, even inanimate ones. 

Photographers rarely nail the shot the first time. So give yourself time to learn. Practice practice practice

Where I find photography inspiration?

Pinterest and VSCO are two places I pull a lot of visual inspiration from. Many people don't know but VSCO has an extension in their app where you can explore images from other VSCO community members. I have always found the images on there a whole lot more thought-provoking than the ones I discover in my Instagram explore feed. I spend a lot of time people watching when I'm out and about. Doing that helps me see what people do naturally and how they interact with one another. It also helps that I'm a wedding photographer.

Oddly enough my inspiration for portraits is typically from old black and white war photography. To me the images are raw, they speak volumes of truth and emotion. When I photograph people, I try to capture the feeling they have inside, freeze the moments in time, and give them a moment in their life to go back to.

A tip I got from my friend Elana was to create a visual mood board of inspiration. You can use Pinterest or Instagram and bookmark things to a saved collection. Start adding photographs and visual media that speak to you on these boards. This will help you begin to understand what your eye really loves to see and what speaks to you. 

I've been loving this JUST ASK JO series on my blog. So keep the questions coming. I hope these have been extremely helpful to you! 

JUST ASK JO: What type of camera do you use? Which one should I get for travel and blogging?

JUST ASK JO: What type of camera do you use? Which one should I get for travel and blogging?

This week's JUST ASK JO is all about photography, my first passion and I'm so excited to get into it with you all. Photography was an art form I fell in love with when I was 15. It was the one thing that helped me express my heart, my thoughts, and ultimately helped me understand my depression and mental illness a little more.  A few weeks ago I offered to answer questions on my Instagram about photography and here's what you asked. Continue below to read more about the cameras, lenses, and gear I recommend for beginners, bloggers, and traveling.