London

My Favorite Memories in London 

Harry Potter Warner Brother’s Studio

DSC_0466DSC_0431If you’re a Harry Potter fan, this is a must see attraction! My sister and I went the first year it opened. We booked tickets months in advance. If you’re interested in going, it never hurts to book early. Enjoy a butter beer! It tastes like a cream soda. I could easily split this with someone next time.

 

The scones at Fortnum & Mason

DSC_0657These were recommended by a Fitness Center member at my old job. Wow! The sweet butter cream and warm scone were amazing. Be sure to go to the restaurant floor and sit down to enjoy them warm. You can buy them on the lower floor, but they aren’t as good.

 

 

Buckingham Palace tour

DSC_0618DSC_0627

 

 

 

 

 

The tour is open during the summer months. We also booked this in advance. I enjoyed touring the palace and seeing the carriages. If you’re visiting at a different time, be sure to see the changing of the guard.

Ride the London Eye 

DSC_0512 DSC_0496This isn’t something I would come back and do, but it’s fun to do it once. Plus, you get some great views of the city. It takes about 25 minutes to go around and it’s big enough inside to fit a car!

Visit the Tower of London

DSC_0345It’s not cheap, but it’s fun. Again, something I would only need to see once. I enjoyed the seeing the crown jewels the most.

 

 

 

 

Visit the Westminster Abbey & St. Paul’s Cathedral 

DSC_0634Walking through the different cathedrals in Europe is one of my favorite things to do. There is so much detail compared to what we have in the U.S.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walk through the Kensington Palace Gardens & Visit Hyde Park 

DSC_0589Our hotel was close to the Kensington Palace. Since I love the colors of the different flower beds, this is a fun memory to look back on.

 

Paris

I need to go back to Paris, stat. I loved everything about it!

Tips

Paris Tips to Tour the Eiffel Tour Purchase a tour for the Eiffel tower online in advance. The lines to go up were hours long. My sister and I were pleased to find we could arrive at the Eiffel tower at our scheduled time, learn a little history, and go straight up. It really didn’t cost much more at all. Worth it!

Also, purchase a museum pass. It’s a great money saver if you plan to see the many museums.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My favorite things in Paris:

Luxembourg Gardens

DSC_0025 DSC_0027 DSC_0026Great for people watching and relaxing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fruit Tarts & Croissants! 

DSC_0157DSC_0089Fruit tarts. Chocolate croissants. Baguettes. Nothing in the U.S. compares to what Paris has perfected.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Versailles

DSC_0076DSC_0110Versailles. A must see day trip! It’s an easy train ride outside the city.

 

 

 

 

 

Eiffel Tour at Night

DSC_0130

DSC_0113Can it get any better?




 

 

 

 

 

Les Invalides

DSC_0193 DSC_0171I loved the building & the gardens just outside of it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notre Dame Cathedral

DSC_0039

Switzerland

I can’t wait to go back to Switzerland. This trip was in December and I enjoyed the Christmas Markets and culture. My grandfather is 100% Swiss so it was amazing to learn more about my heritage.

I traveled to the following cities: Geneva, Zurich, Lucerne, Grindelwald, Zermatt, Montreux, and Bern. Enjoy the chocolate and fondue!

IMG_0016 IMG_0054 IMG_0058 IMG_0064IMG_0120 IMG_0153 IMG_0203

The First Step to Change

How to Change Your Mindset & Adapt a Healthy Lifestyle

The First Step to A Healthy LifestyleWhen it comes to change, many people think it starts with setting goals. Setting goals are great because goals give you something to focus on at the start of your journey. However, many people set goals that are too vague. Sometimes these vague goals aren’t going to be motivating enough to help you stay on track on the more challenging days you will have. Instead of writing out your goals, you’ll need to learn your why. Consider your why the deepest reason why you want to change. This can be the best way to keep you motivated to take action and get closer to your goal every day, even on the difficult days.

So, how do you learn your why?

Write down your first goal that comes to mind. Then continue to ask yourself, why?

See the example below:

I want to lose 15 lbs.

(Why?) Because I want to fit into my clothes comfortably.
(Why is this important?) So I can feel good about myself.
(Why?) Because I want more self-confidence.

Keep asking yourself why until you get to the root of why you really want to change.

In this example, the true why for losing 15 lbs is because you want to be more confident.

Learning your why will tell you what you truly want to achieve. So instead of putting all of your focus on losing 15 pounds, visualize the confidence you’re really striving for. When you’re having a stressful day, think of your why so you can make sure you get in your workout in, even when you feel too tired. Picture your why when you don’t want to cook, but find a way to put together a quick healthy dinner at home.

You’ll be amazed how helpful this can be to keep you on track.

How to Make a Healthy Choice When You Don’t Want to Cook

How to Make a Healthy Choice When You Dont' Want to Cook We all have those moments when we simply don’t want to cook. For me, it always meant ordering pizza, other takeout or going out to a Mexican restaurant. Those favorite foods helped bring comfort to a long day, but I found myself not really enjoying it because I was tired. Plus, I felt guilty afterwards because I intended to make a good choice at the start of the day.

Here are two options to start practicing when the time comes when you don’t want to cook.

1. Find your “go-to” healthy restaurant.

When you’re searching for that right restaurant for you, here are three things to consider:

  1. Where can I find a lean protein and vegetable source?
  2. What restaurants don’t have free temptations? (Free bread, chips & salsa, etc.)
  3. Is my meal satisfying?

My favorite Mexican restaurant might have a great taco salad for a healthy choice, but I always found I had to mentally fight not eating the free chips. I learned this wasn’t the best choice. Some may suggest saying “No, thank you” to the chips, but when you’re tired, it doesn’t always work out.

Action Step: Find a go-to restaurant without temptations. 

My go-to places

  1. Whole Foods buffet
    • A build your own salad OR an entrée with grilled vegetables + roasted sweet potato
  2. Chipotle
    • Salad with diced chicken, brown rice, fajita vegetables + salsa
  3. Panera Bread
    • Classic salad with chicken + apple for the side

Find three restaurants that will work for you. Another thing to keep in mind is the satisfaction level of the meal. On a scale of 1-10, your meal should be at least an 8. If it’s not, there is a good chance you’ll crave something unhealthy later

2. Transform the menu at any restaurant.

You can do this with any menu! Start by scanning the menu for the best option of a protein and vegetable source. For lean sources of protein look for fish, chicken, or turkey. If you notice you would enjoy the grilled fish, but dislike the broccoli that comes with it, ask yourself what other vegetables on the menu will work for you. Most likely you will be able to easily substitute.

Other things to consider:

  • Ask for salad dressing on the side to save on calories. Use your fork to stab your dressing and then your salad.
  • Substitute a green salad instead of French fries.
  • Ask the server if it’s possible to prepare your meal differently. Switch to grilled chicken instead of crispy (fried). Or, steamed vegetables.
  • Don’t see anything on the menu? Think of your favorite healthy meal and ask the server if it’s possible to make. It never hurts to ask!

Everybody has off days and cravings so finding a “go-to” healthy restaurant is crucial to staying on track with your nutrition. Practicing and learning alternatives when this strikes will make it much easier.

I Don’t Wanna Cook Option #2

Chipotle Chicken Salad

Healthy Dinner Out

 

 

 

 

 

If you’ve been to Chipotle before, you have many options for meals such as a taco, burrito, salad, burrito bowl or quesadilla. When it comes to making a healthy choice, it’s important to look for a good serving of vegetables and a protein source. I find their salads are the healthiest choice on the menu. The picture above is a slightly modified salad.

Romaine Lettuce

Small scoop of brown rice*
Fajita vegetables*
Chicken
Fresh Tomato Salsa

* represents a modification.

Most salads come with the option of beans, but they don’t include rice or fajita vegetables, so I’ll ask for a substitution. Instead of choosing beans, I choose a small serving of rice. Rice isn’t necessarily a better choice, but it’s my preference. To keep the carbohydrates at a serving size, I pick one instead doubling starch by asking for rice & beans. By adding fajita vegetables to the salad, it increases your overall vegetable consumption for the meal. The Chipotle salads come with salad dressing, but I find the salsa can easily take it’s place.

Nutrition facts: 430 calories, 14.5g fat, 42g carbohydrates, 5.5g fiber, 38.5g protein.

Use Chipotle’s nutrition calculator to calculate other meals you enjoy.

How to Save Money for Travel

Six Steps I Took To Start Traveling More – Books, Accounts & Free Miles!

Save Money for Travel I live to travel. I have often told myself that I work so I can travel. The travel bug started for me in 2011. After experiencing NYC for the first time and Switzerland a few months later, I knew I needed to look closer at my finances so I could start traveling more. Here are a few tips of how I got started.

1.) I read the Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. 

This book was a game-changer for me. I have always been pretty good with saving money and not overspending (thanks, dad!) but often I would spend money just to spend money. I loved shopping at Nordstrom!

After reading the Total Money Makeover, I started budgeting what I wanted to spend my money on each month. First, I would “pay myself first” (putting money into my savings) and whatever was leftover after my monthly expenses, I would use as fun money.

After getting bit by the travel bug, I realized I had plenty of clothes in my closet and I really didn’t need to shop every month. Therefore, I could start using that money for future trips.

Action steps:

  • Set up a monthly budget
  • Find out what you can cut out of your monthly expenses so you can start saving for travel.

2.) I opened up a “Travel” Savings Account. 

This isn’t anything special, just another savings account. Through Wells Fargo, it was easy to open up an account online. I also enjoy that Wells Fargo customers can name their accounts. So, of course, I named mine Travel Money.

I write out two budgets a month, due to when I get paid. After putting together my budget for the pay period, I write out how much I can dedicate to my Travel Money account. Every paycheck I put money into my Travel fund, whether it’s $25 or $250. It’s so fun to watch it grow!

I find it stress-free to purchase my vacation when I have the money already saved for it.

3.) I opened an account with Alaska Airlines. 

This didn’t happen until two years after getting bit by the travel bug! Grr. I have a good friend that always told me to set one up and I never did. There are two types of accounts with Alaska Airlines: the credit card/debit card or the free account.

Since I don’t like to pay annual fees (even though you get a companion fare), I opted for the free account. It’s very easy to set up online through their website. Now, for every trip I take on Alaska Airlines or their Partner Airlines, I can earn airline miles to use to for future trips.

Note: If you recently went on a trip, but didn’t have an account set up, you can still get credit for miles. Be sure to have your travel dates and flight number, then fill out a missing credit form on their website. For partner airlines, you have 6-9 months after your trip to still receive credit. For flights on Alaska Airlines, you have 12 months after your trip.

4.) I started to utilize their Mileage Plan Shopping. 

If you have the free account, Alaska Airlines now offers two ways to earn miles: flying OR shopping online. If you have the credit card, it’s like double dipping. You get the miles for the purchase on your card and you get the miles for clicking on their Mileage Plan Shopping link. I do enjoy shopping online when I need something and their Mileage Plan Shopping now lets me earn x amount of miles for every dollar I spend. They have hundreds of retail stores through their website and each store has a specific amount of miles per dollar. Some may be 1 mile per dollar. Others may be 20 miles per dollar. Miles can add up quickly!

How to use the Mileage Plan Shopping 

1.) Log into your account

2.) On your Profile Overview Page, click on Mileage Activity (in the bottom corner)

3.) Click on Mileage Plan Shopping

4.) Click on Shop Now

This is a hoop you have to jump through every time in order to earn miles. But, it’s worth it!

5.) I frequently Price Check my purchased flight before going on my trip. 

Alaska Airlines has this great Price Guarantee offer. It works two ways:

1.) If your flight goes down within 24 hours, you get an instant credit back onto your debit or credit card.

2.) If your flight goes down (before you have taken the flight), you will get a credit of the difference for the next flight you take. Here’s the form you fill out at their site.

http://www.alaskaair.com/content/deals/special-offers/price-guarantee.aspx?lid=JennWindow::ResponseLink

Both of these work if you book directly from their site. I have had a couple times where I have been able to see my flight decrease before I’ve gone on the trip. It’s nice to save money for that next trip!

6.) I love shopping for deals. 

I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing to do most days of the week. I know I can’t book every good deal out there, but at least I’m keeping my eyes open for the good ones that I’m interested in. I enjoy using websites like Travel Zoo, Expedia, Travelocity, Gate1, European Destinations, etc. Still to this day, my best deal was buying a direct, round trip flight from Seattle to NYC for $186. Thanks, Travel Zoo!

I also look at Alaska Airlines weekly specials. I especially like to look at their double miles flights.

**I know other airlines offer mileage plan shopping and a low price guarantee. Alaska Airlines may not be the best airline for you, so do some research to see if your airline of choice offers similar benefits.