Blogging

My New Job, Capital Affiliate League, and New Friends

First: a confession-- this will not be a perfect blog post! It's 11 o'clock at night, I'm exhausted, have to wake up early and well, I've tried writing (and rewriting) this post a bunch of times the last few nights to no avail! The problem is my days are full and by the time I get around to blogging, it's 11 o'clock at night, I'm exhausted... you get the idea! But, I miss blogging! I miss you guys! And I wanted to check-in and share some updates from my life -- my new job and Capital Affiliate League have kept me very, very busy!

So my job is great! (YAY!) I love it! My days are full and they go by fast, which I love. I'm also extremely enthusiastic about the work I'm doing (blessing!) because I get to create various publications from scratch: think, weekly newsletter, monthly magazine, BLOG! It's right up my alley! :)

Of course it is challenging. There's so much to do and learn and I'm still trying to get into a routine. My commute isn't the best (40 minutes each way) but I could take the metro... I'm just being a wuss about the weather!

Besides work completely occupying my days, Capital Affiliate League has completely taken over my weekends! Competitions last anywhere between noon and 3 o'clock on Saturdays and there's usually a get-together afterward. It's been a commitment, but a fun one and I've made a bunch of new friends!

Here's a photo of me (nervously) doing push press the first weekend of the competition.

PushPress

Being totally honest: team CrossFit is a lot different than regular CrossFit!

Have you ever been on a CrossFit team? 

It's great because there's always someone there to do a movement you can't, but it sucks to put so much stock on your small part of the workout. For me -- a person who generally thinks way too much about what others think -- the pressure is a little too intense! I think I might be more of a get-my-workout-on-to-feel-good kind of gal or, maybe someone who'd be better off doing an individual competition?

Regardless, I'm incredibly lucky to be on the CrossFit Adaptation team -- they're phenomenal and the pressure I feel to do well definitely doesn't come from them! They're so, so encouraging and a fun bunch. There's also another team from CrossFit Adaptation competing in the league this season (and they're so fun!) - talk about a little friendly competition! (Hope you guys don't mind me putting you on my blog!)

CAL Teams

It's funny because CrossFit Adaptation is the sister box of CrossFit Falls Church where I've been doing CrossFit the last 2 years, but I didn't know any of these people before joining CAL! Yet, they've welcomed me onto their team with open arms (thanks to my friend Wendy speaking so highly of me - thanks Wendy!) and I've really enjoyed this new sense of community. More to love about CrossFit! YAY!

Did I mention everyone on my team is really good at CrossFit, too? Whether they're crazy good at moving heavy weight quick (Ambrea), butterfly'ing the heck out of some pull-ups (Justin), or doing lightening fast burpees (Jim), everyone has something to bring to the table and I love that!

CAL Team

Aw, we're cute! :)

The few small things I don't love about CAL are that practices aren't actual workouts. Typically the races are announced on Mondays and we meet on Wednesdays to strategize and practice, but we mostly strategize. Our meet-ups are pretty meh as far as tough workouts go and the same is true for the weekend competitions -- I really only ever do ONE (maybe two) parts of a workout. For example, week one I did two sets of 15 push presses; week two I  did 20 goblet squats (that's it!); and week three, 20 front squats. Combine those things and you've got a typical CrossFit WARM-UP! However, the intensity level does go up when you take into account the anxiousness and anticipation you feel on game day!

The practices and Saturday competitions have thrown-off my usual routine a bit too, but my routine has been kind of off anyway because of my new job. I think it's probably a really good that I'm getting there. I'm doing something. (Period) Cause most days after work, I'm THIS CLOSE to skipping CrossFit. But guess what, I made it tonight and it was an actual workout (not a practice for one)! 100 burpees, ya'll! I felt out-of-shape for sure!

CAL wraps up at the end of February so we're halfway done already (I can't believe it)! It's been getting funnier each week so I'm looking forward to finishing out the season strong!

Please share you tips for team CrossFit or, how to better manage work, blogging, and workouts!

Have you ever done a team CrossFit competition? 

Do you have a hard time juggling blogging with your full-time job or other commitments?

Top 14 in 2014

Happy New Year's Eve everyone! Fit for a Bride is back online and I couldn't be happier. I have so much to share with you! Last December I did a Top 13 in 2013 post, which I love to go back through and read. 2014 was such an incredible year I thought I'd carry on the tradition and share another round-up of the major moments/my favorite memories. So here it is!

  • My photoshoot with Sneha of Pretty in Pic Photography 

In November I reached out to a photographer (a friend of a friend) and scheduled a photoshoot because I wanted to update all my profile pictures, get new headshots and have fresh photos for the web re-design I was planning. I was totally wigging out before the session -- nervous about what to wear and how they'd turn out! -- but boy, was I pleased! They turned out amazing! I love them! I felt great, looked great, and had a great time during the shoot.

http---makeagif.com--media-11-28-2014-WoFRul
http---makeagif.com--media-11-28-2014-WoFRul

Sneha - thank you for making this a fun and memorable experience, and for making me look good! I hope we can collaborate again in 2015!

  • The Whole30. (Read my Whole30 posts here.)

Wow - there's really no words! I'm just a few weeks past the Whole30 but it's etched vividly in my mind as a time of feeling total peace and confidence and just all around goodness! I'm planning to do another Whole30 in 2015, too. Wanna make a lasting impression on your year? Then join me!

My friends know I run a fitness blog, but this past year was the first time I ever used that passion to bring us together in a healthy way, spearheading a summer weight loss competition, which, I have to say, was pretty rewarding for everyone involved! I was so proud of the efforts of everyone in the group, myself included, and it was really nice to get together with friends and be on one accord: more workouts, less wine! Haha. The group of 10 girls combined lost more than 30 lbs! And, it was a friend from this group who started the idea to do a Whole30.

  • Redesigning my website. 

I love my new look and I'm so proud of it because I did it all by myself!! It really makes me so much more confident starting the new year with a fresh look, especially one that really reflects the brand I've been trying to create and, one that gives me so much room to grow! I hope I'm looking back in 2015 saying how far I've come in making this new design work for me with all the shop functions! (Read about my branding journey: the Concept, Web Design, WordPress, Bluehost & Studiopress, and Finally Finding an Identity. Then read, the Bottom Line.)

Not only did the Open provide some really great content for the blog (I shared my reflections on each and every workout) it was emotionally and physically such a time of growth for me! I made some amazing friends in the process (Hi Naomi! Hi Wendy!) and it was thrilling to be a part of something so big-- the whole waiting for the announcement of the workouts, practicing those moves I couldn't do in the days leading up to it, and then giving it my all when my turn was up! That final workout was such bittersweet victory, too. 14.5, I'll never forget you!

Ok so, this wasn't really blog related, but I'm not sure I've ever been anywhere as gorgeous as Turks! Seeing it from the sky (my first time parasailing) was pretty thrilling, too! This was by far the best (most relaxing) beach vacation ever. It felt like a dream!

Seven Stars Turks and Caicos
Seven Stars Turks and Caicos
  • The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. 

Some of you know I lost my grandfather to ALS and a dear friend, Rivaud. It was really nice to see so much awareness spread about this awful disease and to get to be apart of it myself.

  • Reviewing the Reebok Nano 4.0s and other brand partnerships.

As a blogger I'm always on the lookout for ways to partner with brands, especially ones I love! So when I had the opportunity to review the Reebok Nano 4.0s for Reebok I was beyond thrilled! I was also excited to work with a smaller, local company: South Block Cafe, and review their three-day cleanse. I'm looking forward to more partnerships like this in the new year!

  •  Ordering Fit for a Bride tank tops 

Even though I haven't sold any of these tank tops and I'm still experimenting with tank top designs, I'm really proud of myself for getting the ball rolling in that direction! I had so much fun packaging these and sending them off to a few featured brides. I'm full-steam taking on tank top production in 2015 so be ready!

Cherie is such a doll! Words cannot express the excitement I felt when she emailed me to express interest in the opening for a real bride blogger. I had no idea she would be the whole package y'all -- her faith, love for fitness, her hand lettering skills, and her sassy writing style has been such a breath of fresh air week after week! I've been so lucky to get to have her contributions to the blog. Cherie: THANK YOU! (Check out Cherie's blog here.)

Cherie_Gym
Cherie_Gym

This is an event I'll never forget because it was the first time I ever did rope climbs during a workout and somehow, I did a total of 8! Not to mention the ropes were 15 feet high - a little more rope than I'm used to, that's for sure! It was both terrifying and thrilling to be apart of this workout and to getting to do it with my best friend and hubby, Aaron, made it that much better! (Another memorable WOD was the 9/11 hero WOD.)

31-Heroes-Sara
31-Heroes-Sara

Check out Kx photography on Facebook

  • Oh, hello - buying our condo! (See our house tour)

I can't believe we bought a house! Ah! We dreamed, looked (and looked!), prayed, and even put an offer in on another condo we didn't get! But, in the end, we feel like we ended up right where we're supposed to be. I LOVE our house and I'm looking forward to a fun year of decorating and making it ours.

  • Landing a new job

So, this literally just happened but I'm too excited not to mention it: I'm getting a new job!!! After the purchase of a sassy new suit from the Scandal Collection, three interviews, and a sad goodbye to my current employer, I'm moving on to work for MedStar doing marketing and communications for the academic affairs department. I am truly excited to get to work for such a great company and alongside some of the top medical experts in our area. I'm also so excited  to get to learn a lot more about human health! It's going to be a big job that's fast-paced, but I'm ready for it!

  • And, finally: OUR CROSSFIT SHOOT! 

After a year of featuring CrossFit couples, I moved from behind the computer into the spotlight with Aaron for a feature on Southern Weddings' blog! I was so pleased when Southern Weddings responded positively to my idea to feature our favorite date night as going to CrossFit for their Southern Newlywed column. (Who am I kidding? I had to pinch myself when they responded yes to the idea!!!)

The shoot was great for a number of reasons but namely, meeting Katie Nesbitt and her husband, the photographers, was awesome! I also fell in love with Aaron all over again; he was so sweet during the shoot; making it fun and light. He's a natural in front of the camera!

2014-12-30 13.23.59
2014-12-30 13.23.59

You'll have to wait till the New Year to see the full shoot; the feature is scheduled for January 9th!

Happy New Year friends!

What are the top 14 moments of your year?

What are you most looking forward to in 2015? 

10 Things to do in New York in a Single Day

Good morning and happy Columbus day! Are you off of work? Hopefully you are, and you're enjoying this three-day weekend! I've had a full weekend, traveling to New York and back on Saturday... Yes, there and back in a single day! It was a whirlwind but so worth it! It's International Bridal Week in New York, which means all the wedding bloggers, photographers, and planners are in the city attending shows. The advertisers I work with to generate income for this blog, BrideClick, hosted a cocktail party Saturday for bloggers like myself and it was a great opportunity to meet the BrideClick team, and others in the industry! I was especially excited to meet-up with my friend Jessica from BudgetSavvyBride! We've emailed a few times and, well, it was wonderful to finally meet her in person. (Hey Jessica!!!)

I got into the city around 2 o'clock and went straight to Culture Espresso, a little coffee shop I read about on Yelp. I plugged in my computer, phone and camera to charge up and enjoyed a latte and giant chocolate chip cookie (yum)!

New York Brideclick TripNew York Brideclick TripNew York Brideclick TripNew York Brideclick TripNew York Brideclick TripNew York Brideclick TripNew York Brideclick TripNew York Brideclick TripNew York Brideclick Trip

Around 4 pm, I headed toward West 54th to meet Jessica for dinner. It was about a 30-minute walk from where I was on W 34th but I had a fun time walking and snapping pictures along the way!

We ate at El Cenrto and both the food and the atmosphere were great! I could have sat there all night! We headed to Disiac for the BrideClick happy hour around 6 and it was wonderful. I met the Editors of How He Asked, Elizabeth Anne Designs and Something Turquoise. All were sweet, sweet girls! (Hey ladies!!!) We talked about blogging, social meida, and time management. Sounds boring but for me, it was great!

Brideclick happy hour Jessica

After the cocktail hour (around 8:30), I hailed a cab back across town to catch the bus home. I was sleepy from the cocktails, which worked out great cause when I woke up, I was already in Maryland, and not long after that, we pulled into Union Station!

I posted to Instagram that my mom really inspired this trip and it's true! I was THIS close to not going (too much of a hassle, too expensive; I had a 100 reasons) but I'm so, so glad I went!

Ever considered making a day trip to New York?

Here's some ideas for making the most of your limited time in the big city! 

1. Go to Bryant Park.

2. Check out Culture Espresso.

3. Take pictures... lots of them! 

4. Get a photo in front of the Hope sign

5. Try El Centro (the chicken nachos are delicious!) 

6. Oh, and have a frozen margarita while you're there! 

7. Exchange business cards with someone; big things are happening in New York! 

8. Go shopping! 5th Avenue is right near where the bus lets off and there's tons of shopping there!

9. Take a polaroid. Printed photos are underrated! 

10. Oh and, fall asleep on the bus home; it'll go by really fast that way!  

Have you ever gone out on a limb to attend an event you thought was important for your hobby or work? 

What's your favorite thing to do in New York? 

My Favorite Blogs & A New Blogging Philosphy

Hello and happy Thursday! Today I’m sharing a few of my favorite blogs, and some new ones I just discovered.

I'm sort of obsessed with blogs! I read at least one blog everyday! EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

I used to follow all my favorite bloggers via BlogLovin but now I use Feed.ly. I also know a few URLs by heart and have no problem plugging them in as soon as sit down with my morning cup of coffee, to get caught up!

Fitness

Carrots 'n' Cake: I check this blog everyday, sometimes twice a day (shameful? oh wells)! I love Tina's conversational tone and she's incredibly consistent! She posts almost everyday, sometimes twice in a single day, which of course her readers, like me, love! What does she blog about? Her life! A mix of motherhood, CrossFit, and food. Her blog is like a journal and, I love it!

You know what I find interesting, too? Her pictures aren't always the prettiest but does that bother me? Not one bit! With this blog I always think the photos need to be really good quality, but you know what? Her egg sandwiches (shot with a point-and-shoot camera; no fancy lighting or props) ALWAYS make me want one! And her workout posts? They're super easy to follow even though there's not a photo depicting every movement. I definitely need to take note of Tina's commitment to blog, her own way in her own voice, and step away from the need get it perfect! Haha

Blogging

The Well B Bar: This blog is co-authored by Meg Biram, a DC blogger I adore! The Well B Bar is perfect for anyone with a blog, striving to start a business or just understand the business of blogging. It's full of awesome tips and the community is great: Meg and Victoria have really gotten the conversation going sometimes! There's a lot of good resources, too, like how to write a blog plan for the year, make an editorial calendar or network from home. I also got my idea to start a monthly mantra from their word of the month series. They also offer a host of awesome e-books about blogging, which were recently discounted!

The Well B Bar

Independent Fashion Bloggers: Another awesome resource for bloggers and another reliable, consistent voice I look forward to reading daily! Even though I'm not a fashion blogger the tips and tricks can be applied to any kind of blogger!

Food

Healthfully Ever After: Brides looking for healthy recipes and/or a little help getting healthy before their wedding day can look no further than Carlene Thomas, a Virginia registered dietary nutritionist. Even though I've never actually made one of her recipes (yet) they always look fabulous! She's been doing some styled shoots with a few of the big wedding blogs and of course, I LOVE that! (I'm into food photoshoots!)

PaleOMG: Now this is a blog with recipes I HAVE tried and absolutely LOVED! I've been blown away by the simple, yet flavorful dishes I've made, which include the 5-ingredient pizza spaghetti pie (I've seriously made this at least a half a dozen times), her roasted red pepper and avocado soup with sausages (OMG, so good!), and her easy shredded pork over caramelized mashed plantains, which was a hit with my hubby! I also made her tex mex breakfast casserole, which was awesome!! Juli is also hilarious. I've had real LOL moments reading through a recipe because she throws in something funny or ridiculous!

PaleOMG

(Oh and, I love that she's begun incorporating Fashion Fridays (she dresses so cute!!) and weekly workouts. It's fun to see a little glimpse into the real life of a blogger, and OMG, isn't her dog the cutest, ever?)

CrossFit

She.thrives.blog - NEW! I just discovered this blog (via Instagram) and I'm already hooked! The authors - two women who teach CrossFit - don't seem to post everyday but when they do, there's a lot of good stuff there! This post had me re-thinking my yogurt and granola breakfast, and this page is a great resource for anyone interested in learning more about the paleo lifestyle. (And wow, the food looks delicious and healthy; a combination I love to see!)

She Thrives Blog

Other CrossFit blogs I like: IFailedFran and Wine to Weight Lifting. I just discovered both of these and feel a little late to the party!

DC Bloggers

Meg Biram: I mentioned Meg earlier (see The Well B Bar above). Talk about a source of inspiration! Whether you follow Meg's blog, her instagram, or her posts for the Well it's obvious she's made a name for herself in the blogging world and her success as an entrepreneur is super inspiring to a person like me, who has been wanting to start my own business for ... what's it been? Like two years now! Meg makes it look EASY, and I can tell you, it's not! Even though she doesn't post to her blog daily, I check it (and The Well) almost every morning!

On a personal note...

The other reason I wanted to share these blogs with you to is to share something that dawned on me recently: I love conversational blogs! I love lifestyle, candid, just-the-blogger-sharing-their-life posts and those kinds (not the big "mainstream" blogs) are the ones that inspire me as a writer. Sometimes I get caught up thinking this blog needs to be a certain way (have perfect photos or be helpful to brides) but then I realize the pressure to be those things (and to write about certain things) really turns me off from writing altogether; it takes the fun out of blogging and I feel bogged down with to dos (expensive ones, like photoshoots)!

With this revelation I've decided I'm just going to write about what's on my mind and what's happening in my life because that's what's most enjoyable for me! I love weddings and my goal to help brides in some fitness capacity hasn't changed so there will still be some of that sprinkled in, as well as those unique fitness wedding and engagements, but how you feel about hearing a little more from me, about me? Hopefully, you'll enjoy that, just as that's what I enjoy about my favorite blogs! :)

Ok, now it's your turn: What are your favorite blogs?

What blogs do you check everyday? 

{Featured} The Fête Blog

Remember my good friend Stephanie, Editor of The Fête Blog and professional runner? Well, she's starting a new series on her blog called "You Should Get to Know" and I feel so lucky, because she relaunched it with an interview of me this weekend! Stephanie's questions really made me think about why I started this blog and what I hope to accomplish with it in the future; I reposted part of the interview below. To see the full thing, visit The Fête Blog!

The Fête Blog

Thanks for the feature, Steph! 

What originally sparked your interest in blogging your fitness journey? How did your fitness journey start and where are you now?

I blogged every detail of my wedding planning journey as Ms. Brooch on Weddingbee, which opened me up to a really engaging and friendly community of women online. I fell in love with the camaraderie I found there and many of those women are still close friends today. After my wedding I knew I wasn’t ready to give up blogging and fitness was the new path I was on.

My fitness journey started in those months leading up to the wedding. I grew up overweight but I tried playing all sorts of sports as a child. I never made the team - I was always too slow or not skilled enough, but when I got older and joined a gym I realized there was fitness outside of organized sports. I started with running, which was great for me because if I could just push myself to keep going, I could do it; I could run! I really harnessed that mental willpower and found so much joy in making it further and further each time. I started with 5ks and 10ks, ran two 10 milers and eventually, six months after my wedding, I ran a full marathon. You can read FAQs: My Weight Loss Story for more about this.

What’s been your greatest challenge when it comes to fitness? What’s helped you work through it?

Hm, this is a tough question! I would have to say not focusing on the scale. I grew up overweight so I’m programmed to think “weight loss” constantly. CrossFit has helped change that perception a lot (thank God!) to where I’m focusing more on getting stronger or overcoming the fear of trying a cartwheel (or things of that nature). CrossFit has really helped me realize fitness isn’t about how much you weigh.

The other tough challenge (they’re coming to me now!) has been consistency. Everyone says moderation is key and I believe that, but I also think consistency is key. I tend to do really well for a few weeks (eating-wise) and then have an off week where I find myself back to old habits: going through a drive-through, indulging in ice cream, or eating a calorie-dense, nutrition-less meal at a restaurant. It happens to all of us, I know. It’s human nature, but consistency is a challenge I continue to try to work on.

With that, I think having friends and family involved helps a ton. My husband recently started logging his food and trying to change his diet and now that he’s doing it, I’m finding it a lot easier to stay consistent! I recently hosted a weight loss challenge with friends and now we all try to make better choices when we meet for dinner. Changing habits and getting consistent is easier when your friends and family are supportive.

The name of your site is “Fit for a Bride”— tell us how the wedding industry comes into your life and blogging! What do you love most about the wedding world? How do you plan on expanding your relationship with the industry?

When I started Fit for a Bride I wanted to share weight loss stories from brides but it the site has evolved into so much more since then. Since I started CrossFit, I’ve been exposed to a whole new community of CrossFit couples (and I happen to be one -- my husband CrossFits) and I absolutely love it.

CrossFit couples are sharing their love each other and the sport in their wedding details, whether by having a CrossFit-themed engagement shoot or a wedding workout and I am so honored to be a portal for sharing these couples stories. It’s obviously not what we’re all used to seeing in the wedding world, but I think that’s what makes it pretty awesome!

FFAB_CoupleImage by Our Two Hearts

What is your dream creative project AND your dream fitness achievement?

My dream creative project actually has more to do with blogging than fitness or weddings! I’d love to host a seminar! I’ve always wanted to develop a self-confidence seminar or, a seminar to help blogging entrepreneurs. This WILL happen one day. I’m speaking it into existence! (Hold me to it, Stephanie!)

My dream fitness achievement would be to be able to do a walking handstand. I hate being inverted and just getting a handstand was frightening! I’d love to overcome that and have a lot more control over my body weight. (I’d be equally as happy to get a strict pull-up, a muscle-up, or handstand push-up.)

To read the rest of my interview with Stephanie, visit The Fête Blog!

Special Delivery!

Does anyone else get ridiculously excited about about packaging? Pink and Black PackagingPink and Black PackagingPink and Black Packaging Oh, you know, the ribbons, bows, tags, and tissue paper?!

What about when it's pink and sparkly?

Well, I hope I a few fit brides got excited this week with this special delivery that I took my sweet time wrapping to match the aesthetic of the Fit for a Bride brand. I know it's what's inside that counts (shh! It's a Fit for a Bride tank top!) but hopefully my fellow CrossFitters will appreciate the girly attention to detail! I sent a tank to a recently featured bride, Karli, our new resident bride blogger, Cherie, and Lauren Truszkowski, aka "Lulu" a well know CrossFitter who got engaged at the Southeast regionals! Congrats on your engagement ladies!

Do you spend time on packaging special gifts? 

Do you love receiving surprises in the mail? 

How to Organize Your Blog with Google Drive

Once upon a time I started a series called Blog Tip Tuesdays! I haven't shared a blog tip in awhile but recently I discovered a free and effective tool that has made my blogging life so much easier and I had to share about it: hello, Google Drive! Chances are - if you're like me - you've been a gmail user forever but you may not have tapped into that little grid in the top righthand corner of your inbox. Well, go there and begin to explore your Drive! It's awesome!

Google-1

What do I love about Google Drive?

  • It's connected to my email and I usually have my inbox open throughout the day.
  • I can access it on my phone, anytime, anywhere.
  • It's easy to use and I can create a new document, begin typing, and x the page all while knowing whatever I wrote down got saved.
  • I can have an infinite number of folders -- and, even better, I can color coordinate them!
  • I can create spreadsheets, word documents, forms, or pull in templates.
  • I can share documents easily.
  • The interface is clean and familiar.

As you can see (below), I created several file folders within my Google Drive account, everything from ambassador program information to blog design ideas. Most of these folders aren't as detailed as I'd like for them to be, but they're buckets waiting to be filled!

Blog Organization with Google Drive

I have a similar system for organizing my emails. I have a folder for everything and it really helps a.) keep my inbox tidy (unless I need to respond to an email, it gets filed) and b.) makes finding old emails for reference a lot easier. I really love this post from Rhiannon of HeyGorgeous Events on how to tackle your inbox.

Speaking of color coding, I also house my Editorial Calendar on Google Drive. As you know, I use the Wordpress Editorial Calendar on my dashboard within Wordpress but in addition, I use this Blog Editorial Calendar by Editor (search your Google Drive for the template titled "Blog Editorial Calendar by Editor").

Google Drive for Blogging

I really love this calendar because it allows me to color coordinate things, move them around easily and highlight posts when they're scheduled and after they are published. My good friend Jennifer from Scraps of Life told me about this calendar and I'm so glad she did because I love it.

Since I access my Editorial Calendar a lot, I decided not to put it within a specific folder; however, Google does offer a few quick links to pull out documents filed within various folders. You can select "Recent," or "Starred" to pull up files you've worked on recently or starred for importance or quick reference. I'm trying to keep my drive as clean as possible so right now I only have my Editorial Calendar starred!

Blog Organization with Google Drive

At the end of the day what I really love about Google Drive is having one place that I can dump all my ideas, to dos and reference information. I've tried writing things down in a special notebook or sending myself emails but having a set place online really works best for me!

One last tip - I recently started recording my monthly users and page views on Google Drive in the folder I've titled "Analytics." It's great to have this information at-a-glance instead of having to into Google Analytics and search for it every time I need it. I think this is particularly valuable as you try to grow your blog and begin to work with brands. It's great to be able to show how far you've come. Just look - my first month of users was 537 and last month it was up to 7,523! Woo hoo! We're growing! :)

Google Drive for Blogging

I am always on the hunt for blogging tips and tricks, please share yours!

Do you use Google Drive for blogging? 

What are your favorite blog organization tools? 

*For more blog tips like this one, search "blogging" in the category drop-down box.

Crafting My Brand Story

Last week in Daytona I finally picked up my Kindle and got a chance to do a little reading, which was wonderful! I had a bunch of sample books downloaded but it didn't take me long to settle on "You, Inc.: The Art of Selling Yourself." I think it appealed to me because I've been wanting to re-write my About page for awhile. It's been almost two years since I wrote a summary of what this blog is about and like with most things, it's changed! I've changed! My story has evolved - it's gone on, there's more to tell now, and according to this book, the success of my brand depends a lot on how well I articulate that story. Find-Your-Story

I'm fascinated by this concept of authentic branding and you - or me, rather! - being the center of this blog or "brand," if you will.  Authentic branding is big in the blog world, too. Because we - the bloggers (writers, really) - are the brand we have to constantly ask ourselves if this cyber space in which we work truly represents us: visually, does the space (logo and blog design) resonate? More importantly does our true voice come through? Is who we are and what we/the blog are about evident? 

Some of my favorite bloggers who I think hit authentic branding on the head are Lara Casey and Gina Zeidler. Their websites, about pages, and even their instagram feed are all so them! You really get their story, which makes following their journey so special and fun; you know what to expect from them!

I've written about my weight loss story (more than once) but I think there's more there! More that I need to pull out of myself and intertwine with my mission with this blog. Here are some other quotes from the book (so far) that may help me flesh that out!

Try to appeal to thousands and you will appeal strongly to no one. 

Find a niche.

"Why does it [your niche] matter?"

"You must not merely answer what makes you different, but how what you do makes a difference for others. Ask that question. Write that answer. Show it to four people whose opinion you value. Demand they be tough with their answers." This is a tough one! I know what makes this blog different but why that matters and how it's making an actual difference is something I need to ponder more!

"We practice our strengths, but ignore our weaknesses." 

"Seek second, third, and fourth opinions. Don't assume; ask. Does this sentence work? Ask six people." 

"Don't seek a mentor, Instead focus on doing the things that might attract people, including mentors."

"The first thing to plan for is your first impression."

"The visual overwhelms the verbal." - This is so true which is why I want to revisit my about page and the blog design.

"People think with their eyes and people hear what they see." Another reason being visual is so important.

"To become more creative --always a good idea--don't try to think outside your box. Instead, grow it. Bring new things in." 

"Make it simple. Constantly edit your story." Again, such truth! I know that even after I revise my story this time, there will be more revising to do down the road.

"So we either rebel at the idea of branding, or we embrace it as a useful tool of deception. Great brands, however, are authentic." 

"Grab them immediately. Craft your leads." 

"Tell stories." - YES! I'm all about this which is why I feature weight loss stories, industry fit stories, and fit mom stories. Plus the stories of CrossFit couples!

Are you inspired to make your blog more authentically YOU yet? I know I am!

I'll keep you posted on the progress of this improved about page but in the meantime, (and in the spirit of asking others, first impressions, and exploring weaknesses), please, tell me, what's your first impression of this blog?

How would you describe this blog to others who may have never seen or heard of it before?

How would you improve my about page or the blog design? 

Casting Fit-Bride Bloggers!

Fit-Bride-Casting

Exciting news guys: I'm looking to bring aboard a fit-bride blogger!

Cue the confetti!! 

Are you a fit bride? Are you planning your wedding and incorporating health and fitness along the way? Are you a CrossFitter? Determined to shed a few pounds for the big day?

If so, don't be shy! Email me at fitforabrideblog@gmail.com (or write me via our contact page) and get the skinny on how to become a regular contributor to Fit for a Bride!

Please note that a sample post is required for consideration, but if you don't have a blog of your own that's OK! A post written in Microsoft Word will do! In your email, please make sure you link to your social media accounts - I want to see your smiling face! :)

Can't wait to meet our first real bride blogger! Email me today!

May/June Post Round-Up

Hey guys! Happy Monday! Since we missed the monthly round-up in May I'm doing a May/June Post Round-up! Summer has been totally crazy and I haven't been blogging as much as I usual, but there were a few goodies in the mix these past two months! Here is a recap: CrossFit Couple + Industry Fit

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Weddings & Engagements:

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Recipes:

SONY DSCNo-Bake Strawberry Pie

My Life:

Mid-Atlantic CrossFit Regionals

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Bulu Box

What were your favorite posts these past two months? 

I'm always curious what you'd like to see more of on the blog?

A Year in Review {2013}

Even though we're a full week into 2014, I'm still reflecting on all that happened in 2013, especially with respect to this blog. It's hard to believe I've been writing this blog for a full year! I remember when it was just an idea in my head! I also vividly remember hitting "publish" on that first post - I was so nervous and so excited! I think I thought the world was waiting for it - ha! Jan1_20122

Anyway, I thought it'd be fun to do a little numbers post with the year in review - I plan to do this every year so that I can watch the change (and hopefully, growth). Later today I'm sharing a fun workout outfit, and my 2014 fitness resolutions! Woo hoo!

Quick Facts:

  • I wrote a total of 327 posts.
  • I've had close to 397 comments!
  • The majority of my readers last year (33.50%) are between the ages of 25-34.
  • And, surprisingly, 54.14% of my visitors were male! (Compared to 45.85% female)

Pageviews:

  • Between January 1, 2013 - January 1, 2014, I had a total of 104,478 pageviews!!
  • Of those, about 33,000 were unique visitors!!
  • I had more than 14,000 pageviews in November, up from just 3,700 in April of this year! (Yay, this shows I've definitely grown!)

Most Popular Posts (in order):

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My Personal Favorite Posts: 

Barre Shoot

Posts I Wish I could Take Back: 

Most Memorable Moment:

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Favorite Features:

Collabos:

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Favorite Photoshop Image:

 Favorite Workout:

Do you look back at your blog at the end of the year?

What milestones, changes, or growth do you see?

14 Goals for 2014

I'm a little behind schedule posting today - I think it's about noon in DC, but it's 6:30 pm here in Italy! We spent New Year's Eve enjoying a four-course meal with new friends and then watching fireworks in the street; I wore a crop top for the first time ever, and then we watched the first half of Despicable Me 2 from our hotel room as we listened to the streets of Florence - literally roaring outside! Europeans sure do know how to ring in the new year hard! Even though we're far from home and having a very unusual, albeit wonderful New Year's celebration, I'm cogniscient of the fact that it's a time of reflection, renewals and goal setting, and I'm all for that stuff!

Brika Goal Stamp

I've been writing about ideas for expanding Fit for a Bride for awhile and I'm always sharing them - there's a heck of a lot that I want to do - but I thought sharing 14 for 2014 would be fun! So, here's a little list of goals for this blog in the new year! Share yours in the comments.

  1. Solidify my message and make plain what this blog is really about. It's not about getting skinny for your wedding day or dieting or even paleo, but rather, about finding confidence and peace with your body! About learning to love and care for your body through all stages of life, including, during wedding planning and beyond!
  2. Be social about my blog! Post updates to Facebook and Instagram. Stop being shy about it; it's nothing to be ashamed of!
  3. Pitch to some major magazines. I've always dreamed of a little mention in Oxygen or the local express paper.
  4. Rebrand the Fit for a Bride logo. I want Joy to letter it!
  5. Open a shop. The plan to is put our lovely new logo on t-shirts and tote bags, and send them to some of our real bride features!
  6. Publish Salad club, the ebook!
  7. Start my other e-books. I'm working on two: Back, Bis & Tris, the Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Buff Bride and The Newlywed Guide to Cooking Unusual Foods.
  8. Build a better website. I want this site to be more inviting, more user friendly, and convey the FFAB manifesto plainly.
  9. Get. a. pull-up. Just one!
  10. CrossFit more.
  11. Eat less sugar. Sugar is my nemesis.
  12. Get certified. This is a biggie.
  13. Seminar! Details on this later!
  14. Read more. Read my Bible more, find more time for quiet, for painting, and for just being; and have less stuff.

You like how I throw three or four in the end there!

What are some goals that you have in 2014? 

Do you have a blog? What goals do you have for it?

Image + Goal Stamp via Brika

Reader Survey! Tell Me Your Opinion!

I've always wanted this blog to standout, especially among the hundreds of other wedding inspiration blogs around the web but when I got started (almost a year ago now), I had no idea how exactly I would accomplish that! All I knew was that I was going to tell my story, share my own experiences and hope others could relate. The results of my effort have been downright amazing... I'll share more of the nitty gritty as far as reader growth later, but for me, personally, the most rewarding part has been the people I've met and the stories I've gotten to tell! I have absolutely love sharing incredible weight loss transformations, awesomely unique, CrossFit-inspired engagement sessions, and a healthy twist on the traditionally unhealthy bachelorette party! But that's just me. I need to know what you have loved.

Elephant Print

So, if you will, please take a minute to answer the reader survey below! And, if you're so inclined, please feel free to email me at fitforabrideblog@gmail.com with more you want to say! I can't wait to get your feedback! Thank you! :)

Image via Factor124.

Note: You can provide more than one answer!

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world's leading questionnaire tool.

Blogging as a Business Recap

Champagne, cupcakes, and blog talk? What could be better? Nothing in my book!

Which is why I enjoyed the Blogging as a Business + Monetization seminar with Meg Biram last night so much.

Blogging-Biz

It was informative, motivating, laid back, and intimiate. And, best of all? I walked away with new friends, a renewed commitment to get my "business" underway, and the know-how to take this blog to a new heights.

A few of MY major take-aways:

// Spend less time blogging and more time on the business aspect (i.e. pitching yourself to brands, working on creating products and/or services, and getting the backend of your business in order). One piece of advice from Meg - if you treat your blog more like a business (as in, getting it organized), you'll start to act and think more like a business!

// For me personally, upping my social media presence. I need to get engaged. I work so hard behind-the-scenes getting content together but I'm not really connected with my readers on any social media platforms (except maybe Instagram). Twitter, I'm learning, is very powerful (There's a great post about this today over on The Well).

// Content is king. Do something original. In Meg's words, "take it to a crazy new level." "Seperate yourself SO much." "Create your own content."

// Be your biggest PR rep! I am so shy about my blog and it's really quite ridiculous! I should be proud! I need to yell it from the rooftops... This was one of my goals for the month.

// Be very selective with financial risks. I already should have learned this lesson, but it's one I find myself continuing to learn over and over again. I need to get it through my head that business shouldn't mean spending all my money; it should mean making money! Personally, I need to be much more selective with blog/business purchases, and ensure there's a return, or simply abandon the idea/project (unless it's working with a product I truly love or I'm honored to work with, or there's the potential for more followers. However, be leary of the latter, because that isn't always the case. I really like this post on the b bar about this topic.)

// This is the Wild West so saddle up and lasso some opportunities! --> Sorry, that's kind of corny, but from what I learned, the blogging/business world is still new and there's negotiating power and leverage and room for growth. You have to put yourself out there, test the waters, and CREATE opportunities for yourself. Don't wait for them to come to you.

Also in my notes:

  • Saying no is OK.
  • In partnerships, ask yourself, how is this mutually beneficial?
  • Be a negotiator.
  • Read the fine print and hire a lawyer help decipher contracts you can't understand. Or, break them down into layman's terms and reiterate to basics back to a company for clarification.
  • Emails are better than phone calls - get it in writing.
  • What's your hourly rate at your day job? Think about applying that to the work you do. the work you offer as a blogger.
  • Look beyond blogging! What are you passionate about? What do you want to spend your time doing? What comes natural? Focus on what you enjoy.
  • It's not all about the numbers! 1,000 really engaged readers is better than 10,000 followers who aren't paying attention.
  • Sponsored content and collaborations are the future. (We're moving away from Ads.)
  • When working with brands, be innovative - offer up ideas.
  • Have a PDF "deck" of stats, audience stats, brands you've worked with, etc. Your go-to for facts about your blog and businesses.
  • Be your own biggest PR agent/advocate!
  • Before reaching out, pay attention to what a brand is doing - are they working with bloggers? In what ways? Research (or as some like to say, "stalk") them!
  • Network with other bloggers!
  • Tag and link to brands and other bloggers - see how they react.
  • Plan way in advance (as a business, with partnerships, you should be thinking months in advance).
  • Use an editoral calendar. (I blogged about mine.)

There was a lot more but I don't want to overwhelm you! I suggest checking out Meg's blog and The Well (the b-bar blog). Meg was really nice (and she's so pretty too)! It was awesome to meet her in person,

What piece of advice here strikes a cord with you?

How could you be doing better as a blogger and/or business?

Blogging as a Business with Meg Biram

One of my favorite DC bloggers is Meg Biram. I love her style, her blog, and especially her column, GSD (get shit done). If you haven't heard of it, GSD is where bloggers and business owners share about useful technlogies, organiziation methods, and time management tips they use to support their businesses. It's great reading for budding business owners! Tonight I'm excited to be attending Meg's Blogging as a Business + Monetization seminar! It's taking place at the Sprinkles cupcake store in Georgetown. (Really? Could the setting be any sweeter? ;) I think not!) I hope to come away motivated and connected with some other DC-area bloggers.

Blogging-Business

I'm working on formulating questions for Meg, but I'd love to hear yours!

As a blogger or business owner, what are some things you'd ask?

Leave a comment and I'll try to get your question answered tonight if I can! I plan to share a full recap of the event tomorrow! 

Are you a budding business owner?

Do you blog as part of a business?

How to Batch Photos for your Blog

I haven't posted a blog tip for awhile, and I've been wanting to tell you about BlogStomp. Whether you're a food blogger, wedding blogger, or lifestyle blogger, this app will save you time, and make your blogging life easier! BlogStomp allows you to organize, group, size, and post images faster than ever before. In fact, it allows you to sort your blog photos, fast!  Most bloggers agree it takes a time to prepare posts, and not so much because of the writing, but because of the pictures. Sizing images so that they'll load fairly quickly and fit within your main column can be a pain. Not to mention photo placement - ever tried to put two pictures side-by-side in Blogger or Wordpress? If not, don't try it! You'll pull your hair out.

Enter Blogstomp.

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Blogstomp allows you to import several pictures into one spot (the image above) and organize them together. You can place photos side-by-side or on top of each-other. Or, you can stomp a single photo and if you've got your settings fixed up, the image will save to your specified size and with whatever border you want (such as a half-inch white border)!

You "stomp" a photo when it's ready (see the orange button "Stomp It"), and the program automatically saves it to a Stomped Folder on your Destop. BlogStomp settings allow you to set specific parameters for how you want picutres stomped - you can make them a specific width (mine are 750 pixels), add a border, change the color of the border, and do a lot more. See some of the options below:

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Also, as you can see from the various tabs (Facebook, Blog, Twitter), you can post your stomped images right from here! 

My friend Monica told me about Blogstomp months ago and to this day, I'm so thankful! Blogstomp is how I organize photos for Real Wedding, Engagement and Anniversary shoot features, and a lot of my recipe posts, too. (Also that picture-heavy post recapping my trip to Florida? Stomped all those!) 

The program does cost money - it's $50, which I'll admit, I didn't want to spend. But, I have to say, it's been well worth the cost! It's a one-time fee and now, I have the program to use as often as I like! I highly recommend this program!

Note: There's a free verison but it photos are stomped with the Blogstomp watermark.

How do you batch photos for your blog?

Do you have any programs that you use?

Catching up on Weddingbee!

Hey there! If you're popping over from Weddingbee, WELCOME! I'm super excited to be back on the main blog with the Catching Up series! I totally miss blogging for the bee!

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For those of you who may be unfamiliar, I'm known as Mrs. Brooch on Weddingbee, and I blogged throughout wedding planning. My very first post was back in August 2010. Gosh, more than 3 years ago now!

I love looking back, and reading through my old posts. It's like reading through a diary and re-experiencing all that was going on in my life then. It was such an exciting time between my bridal shower, the bachelorette party, and going on Say Yes to the Dress... yep, I was on TV! I love to reminisce about it all.

Anyway, just letting you know the post is over there if you're interested in checking it out (I mention CrossFit -- shocker! Lol), and for those of you visiting from the bee, I hope you'll stick around awhile and check out my new blog!