Author: MsBellaDaniela

Is Age Just a Number?

Let me preface this by stating this is not a typical post for me. This has been on my mind lately and I really need to express it and to what better audience than my amazing blog family?

It’s November. Yes, I am stating the obvious but that means that next month, amidst all the festivities of the holidays, I will be celebrating my birthday. My 33rd birthday. And yes, I actually had to sit down and think about what age I will be turning on December 31st (and nope, it is not a good day for a birthday but that’s for another rant). I can’t believe I had to sit here and actually think okay 30 years ago was 1989 and then another…

So what am I getting at? I don’t feel my age at all. I don’t feel 32. I don’t have any children yet and I can honestly say that 90% of my friends within the same age group have at least 1 child already -and some have a child that is already in grade school! Honestly, I look in the mirror and I still feel like a child myself so how irresponsible would I be to have a child right now? And yes, I know there is never “the right time” to have a child but bear with me – I am barely keeping myself afloat, how do I bring another life into the world to care for?

Is something wrong with me?

I look in the mirror and I don’t see a 32 year old looking back at me. What does a 32 year old look like? I don’t quite know, exactly. Am I supposed to cut my hair into a bob? Am I supposed to be getting botox? Am I supposed to wear a foundation every day? Am I supposed to take fiber supplements? Am I supposed to rock mom jeans (and not because they are suddenly fashionable)? Am I supposed to drink white wine or spritzers? Am I supposed to have 1+ child and wear athleisure attire?

Is something wrong with me?

Yes, I know I am partially stereotyping, but when I look around me, turn on the TV, talk to my friends and family…all I see and hear about are pregnancies, aging, and all that goes along with it. Instead, I am finishing my doctorate degree and starting my second master; I am moving to my dream city; I am starting a new job at an organization that is amazing; I am booking trips; I am literally working on being my healthiest self…

Am I being selfish?

I don’t know what 33 has in store for me. Maybe I’ll be writing a post in 6 months sharing with you all that my husband and I are starting our family. Maybe I’ll be sharing with you that we are traveling. Maybe we’ll be buying a house. I don’t know. But I can’t help but have this nagging feeling that I am not living up to expectations for someone my age.


I am sorry that this is not my normal content, but this is all a part of the healthy journey. Sometimes we have days that aren’t as strong as others. Sometimes we have bad mental health days. Sometimes we have doubts and want to be introverted. Sometimes we are exuberant and ambitious. Sometimes we just need to express what is weighing on our soul – talk it out and maybe, just maybe, find out we aren’t alone.

So inquiring minds want to know… Have you ever felt this way? How do you deal with societal expectations?

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Golden Milk Smoothie

As you may already know, I have been pushing myself to exercise daily this month and am also moving, so I wanted to find a good and healthy way to keep my inflammation down, boost my recovery period, and, as a total bonus, ward off cancer-causing free radicals while reducing any early onsets of arthritis! So what am I talking about? Turmeric!

Golden milk, or golden lattes (if you are going to a fancy cafe), is a blend of turmeric with other boosting ingredients that, combined, are really beneficial for your health! Some of the other benefits of this turmeric-based drink (usually consumed hot) are that it improves memory, improves blood pressure while reducing bad (LDL) cholesterol, and soothes an upset tummy!

So while I was at Target last week and I came across a pre-packaged “golden latte” concentrate that you can add milk and drink at home – for a quarter of the price you’d pay at a cafe. But I still couldn’t bring myself to purchase the concentrate because I literally had all the ingredients at home! So this morning I experimented with my own variation of a “golden latte” smoothie and I am pleasantly surprised!!

The ingredients are simple. Mostly because I had already packed a good portion of my kitchen items, but also because a golden latte is supposed to be a simple concoction that is good for you! So what’s in that shake?

  • 1 small banana
  • 3 cups of coconut milk (or 1:1 of almond milk and coconut water)
  • 4 tablespoons of good quality turmeric powder
  • 2 tablespoons of cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon of ginger paste (or 1.5 tablespoons powder)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
  • My go-to Combat Protein scoop
  • 1 tablespoon of Maca powder
  • 1 scoop of Collagen powder
    Blend and enjoy!

So you can make this a hot beverage for a nighttime drink (or in lieu of coffee for all you rebels out there) by combining all of the ingredients above (minus the protein, maca, and collagen), blending and then heating them up in a saucepan. You can also add cayenne pepper for a kick that also helps boost metabolism and some honey to make this a sweet treat that is also antimicrobial!

So inquiring minds want to know… Have you tried golden milk or a golden latte yet? Do you normally consume turmeric? What do you take to help you recover faster from a workout??

Online Groceries?

So there has been a recent boom with discussions on online retailors for groceries. While this seems like a great idea, I also have my hesitations. Call me Type A or whatever, but I like to be able to touch, smell, and sometimes squeeze my produce to make sure it is ripe but not too ripe. So the idea of having someone else do that for me??? Okay, yeah, I’m type A.

I wanted to take a quick look at some of the non-produce items between two online retailors as I begin to dip my toe into the ever growing pool. You all know that one of my favorite online stores is none other than Amazon so I wanted to see what it’s competition was doing to stay competitive (wow, be jealous of those English skills). I am a member of Thrive Market, which I was able to get for free due to being a student (graduate students count too). While I do shop at Thrive, I was questioning some of the prices and if it was really saving time and/or money. I wanted to compare the exact same item so it was even, but if I couldn’t get that, I labeled below the closest substitute.

Disclaimer: This is NOT a sponsored post and I am not in any way affiliated with Thrive Market other than having been a customer on my own journey to healthier food selections.

So without further delay… Thrive Market versus Amazon. Ready?

Primal Kitchen Avocado Oil Mayo – 12 oz jar
Thrive Market – $7.45
Amazon – $14.28

Calbee Non-GMO Lightly Salted Snapea Crisps Snacks
Thrive Market – $1.45 (3.3 oz bag)
Amazon – $17.99 (6 x 3.3 oz = $2.99/bag)

Mavuno Harvest Organic Dried Jackfruit
Thrive Market – $6.95 (6 oz bag)
Amazon – $26.45 (6 x 2.0 oz = $13.23/bag)

Lundberg Farms Rice Chips – Fiesta Lime
Thrive Market – $2.45 (6 oz bag)
Amazon – $26.62 (24 x 1.5 oz = ~$4.44/bag)

KETTLE & FIRE GRASS-FED BEEF BONE BROTH
Thrive Market – $8.95 (17.6 oz package)
Amazon – $15.95 (17.6 oz package)

ANNIE’S HOMEGROWN ORGANIC MACARONI AND CHEESE
Thrive Market – $2.25 (6 oz box)
Amazon – $36.34 (12 x 6 oz = ~$3.03/box)

Now keep in mind that Amazon’s prices do change frequently AND they offer 2-day shipping to Prime members so that is important to keep in mind. Also, Amazon is well known for their price-matching should the item you bought change in price within a couple of days. On the other hand, Thrive does offer free shipping and sample products (sometimes full size) over a minimum purchase – usually $49 or more. Thrive usually ships within 2 days and ensures their products are well secured/packed (wrapped with bubble wrap, include an ice pack, etc.).

Thrive Market DOES offer a free 30-day trial period and a free grocery item (mine was a jar of coconut oil).

End result? In this case, Thrive Market is the winner. I have purchased items from them previously and have been very happy with their selection, delivery, and packaging. The key to detail far surpasses other online retailers I have worked with in the past.

However, more of than not, Amazon is usually ahead with the pricing and selection – plus you can also grab that iPhone stand or new pop socket with your order from Amazon. Plus with Amazon’s enhanced Amazon Fresh program, Prime members can get groceries delivered within hours for free as long as you live in an Amazon Fresh area.

So inquiring minds want to know… Have you tried Thrive Market or Amazon Fresh? Do you shop for your groceries online? Have you tried pre-ordering and curbside pick-up?

Packing.

With just a couple of weeks left, packing is what the majority of my day consists of now! I cannot believe how much stuff we accrue over time. I swear I did not have this many boxes when I moved to California just a couple of years ago. This is why I have to stay away from Home Goods.

That used to be my living room…

There are a few things that we have developed during this packing/move experience that we did not previously think of – yep, surprisingly since we considered ourselves experts… I wanted to share with you all those few items that we have recently purchased that have been helping us as we gear up for the big move! These are outside of the normal bubble wrap, packing paper, styrofoam dish separators, boxes, and whatnot; the items below are things we did not think of before which are coming in handy this time around!

  1. Vacuum bags – Sounds silly if you’re only moving a couple of hours away or down the road, but when you have to scramble to pack a closet and don’t want all of those items crumpled up or damaged in boxes along with the 1/2 bottle of perfume or leave-in conditioner…these vacuum bags are amazing! I was able to pack 3-drawers and 2 shelves worth of sweaters into one bag which condensed down nicely and will stay until I can unpack them. As we get closer, I will pack a few of my clothes that I’ll need easy access to as well so they are safe!
  2. Mattress Cover Bags – We have two mattresses, not counting the box springs, that we don’t want stained or damaged, so we opted to purchase these mattress bags that are thick and with a little tape, essentially seal up the mattress entirely so it stays safe, dry, and dirt-free!
  3. Sofa Covers – Kind of like the mattress covers, we want to make sure our sofa (or couch for some) is protected! Because we have an oversized sectional, we bought two since the branches do come apart. Now I just have to find an everyday sofa cover that fits to protect from everyday wear-n-tear.
  4. A hand truck – I bet you are wondering why we bought a hand truck when we could just rent one from U-Haul, but this will actually come in handy for more than just moving! We have a lot of heavier furniture AND regularly shop at Costco, so making it easier for us to haul those items around is always a good choice. This one is great too because it’ll serve as a standard hand truck or lay flat for larger pallet items like cases of water.
  5. TOTES – Okay, so I hear you…where are you going to stick those after the move? Well, we have of fragile items we have acquired through the years and even with all the bubble-wrap in the world, I wouldn’t feel comfortable putting some of those priceless items in a cardboard box. So we opted to purchase a few heavy-duty totes that will be repurposed for off-season clothing and other items we do not use every day. These will be stored in one of the closets and we have a closet outside (but attached our apartment) that we can store items in as well. These will definitely be reused (house-ward bound in the near future) and will protect those precious items just a bit better.

Moving is tough. Moving in a short amount of time is even tougher! But every little trick or hack or tip that we can apply, the better!

So inquiring minds want to know…Do you have any moving tips that we should know about? What is the worst part of moving for you? What is the best part?

Fitness Challenge – Take Two!

So when I say “challenge,” I mean this as a challenge to myself. I want to challenge myself to push a little farther, a little harder, and consistently. I want to make myself number one while still making time for everything I have to complete. I want to be healthier. I want to enjoy the holidays and get myself ready for the next chapter of my life – The Family Chapter.

That means I am challenging myself to pick myself up where I fell in Movetober, dust myself off, and get right back at it. That is why this month will be filled with some intense exercising and healthy meals!

My promise to you is that on October 31st, I will post my measurements, weight, and photos to show where I am starting and effective November 1st, I will be pushing myself to do better! Yes, I will be moving at one point during the month, but I will just simply need to factor that in since now I have a plan and am not surprised by changes…

This month, I am also working on my fitness when and where I know I can – at home. While I love going to my smaller gym, getting there after a long day can seem impossible. Plus, getting in a quality full gym workout is not always 100% possible – there are days where time is not on your side. So in lieu of over-promising and under-delivering, I have opted to join the LSF family!

Change is good.

If you don’t know what LSF is, Katie Dunlop is a Certified Personal Trainer in Orange County, California, that I have been following on YouTube for months now. She also has her own website and app that you can follow with easy but effective workouts even when you’re crunched for time.
I found myself really gravitating to her plan because of her story – she was overweight, unhappy with fads, and with a thyroid condition, she opted to take charge of her life and find her happiness. Sounds familiar…

So I paid the 1-month membership, got 7 days free, and downloaded her app. I have previously participated in some of her free workouts and I have to say that they really drum up a sweat!! So I know that I am in for it with her app workouts but I want to continue my journey and improve my health – NO EXCUSES.

If you want to join me on the journey, follow my Instagram at @msbelladaniela. I will post updates and even chat live! I want you all to be a part of this journey and keep me responsible!

So inquiring minds want to know… Have you tried LSF or another workout routine? How do you make time to stay physically active?

Movetober Challenge – Check-Ins 2 & 3

Yikes. This was NOT the month to start a fitness challenge apparently. Just when I thought it was going to be a smooth month that would allow me the time I needed to focus on school and fitness, one major life-changing moment after another was announced! If you haven’t read my post from last week on my moving announcement, both my husband and I were graciously given opportunities to advance our careers in SoCal. However, that meant we needed to find a place, pack, and move in under a month!

So that being said, my Movetober Challenge was more like a “squeeze exercise in however and whenever possible” challenge. I have been meeting and exceeding my move goal every day (thank you iWatch for keeping me on target) and even made time to actually work out when I could – even if that meant 9 pm at night!

So what is in store for week 04? More of the same! This is crunch time for packing and if you didn’t already know…that IS a work out in and of itself.

But have I seen any improvements to date? YES! So setting my mind to actually work out every day gave me the motivation to meet those daily goals, and even INCREASE them. I took advantage of any opportunity to sneak in a few minutes of exercise whether that was a brisk 15-minute walk during my morning break or doing 7-minute work out challenges at lunch (yep, there is an app for that) or I’ll even sneak in wall-sits for a minute or two when I’m on a conference call!

Yeah, okay so I know you’re saying these are a lot of excuses and what are my results? While the scale hasn’t gone down, it hasn’t gone up either. I have also noticed a lot of non-scale wins like my pants fitting differently or that I was able to finish some workouts (Peloton for the win) without being completely worn out.

I want to still keep pushing myself and working on my physical, mental, and spiritual health. I want to make sure that during this chaotic time, I don’t forget about what is important. I want to make sure I continue to make wise choices and remain positive.

So inquiring minds want to know… What has been your most chaotic time in 2019? How did you overcome those challenges?

My 6 Tips to be Functionally Productive

Ever have those days where you realize that there are literally 30 things that need to be done and only roughly 10 viable hours to do them all? Ever see yourself sacrificing sleep or other vital healthy functions in order to get just one more task completed? Ever feel like you spent the whole day checking off “to-do” items and then feel like you did nothing at the end of the day?

That’s me…often. And whether you want to admit it or not, I know I’m not alone on this!

So how do I circumvent these feelings and regain a sense of accomplishment? There are a few things I do, and am working on new techniques to continue improving my balancing act, that I want to share because they have helped me immensely.

  1. Plan my day. Now, I know the big trend right now involves planners (and planner pens and stickers and glitter and unicorns…) but realistically in the days of technology, is it advantageous to keep a physical planner? In my opinion, no. So how do I plan my day? I use what I almost ALWAYS have with me – my cell phone; which in my case is an iPhone so it is synced to my laptop which makes recording the day a little easier.
    Anyway, I plan the next day in the evening. I type out my agenda on my calendar (work, appointments, grocery runs, etc.), enter my reminders with specific day(s)/time(s) notifications (pick up dry cleaning at 6 pm on Wednesday, for example), and I account for those little things like a 30-minute block for a workout or 1 hour to study (the life of a grad student). This allows me to visualize my day and make sure that I am utilizing my time effectively.
  2. Take breaks and utilize them. So often during a workday, we get so consumed by the task at hand that we forget to even use the bathroom until the situation is dire! So on my work calendar, I have pre-scheduled my breaks and blocked off my time. Those 15 minutes or 1-hour lunches are mine and I use them as I need to. There are days were I honestly take a naps or I make appointment calls or I take walks. Yes, I am very busy at work, but if I am not taking care of my physical/mental health during those times, I am a waste.
  3. Decide my ensemble the night before. As a female in a leadership role, I have to play a certain part in my job. With that comes a certain type of clothing as well. And while I don’t usually wear a lot of makeup, I do have to dress the part. So I strive to pick out my clothing the night before so there is no rush to analyze every wardrobe piece at 6 AM, in the dark.
  4. Meal plan. You knew this was coming, right? So many of you that have been following me for a while know I don’t eat lunch at work (or very rarely do). So what I mean by meal planning is I plan and usually prepare for my protein shake the night before so I can blend it all fresh in the morning. I also put aside snacks/fruits for the next day so it’s more of a grab-and-go kind of situation.
  5. Preschedule tasks. So you all know I am a coffee fiend, right?
    Well, what I make sure to do every night is to prepare the coffee grinds, set the timer, and fill the reservoir the night before so at 7 AM sharp, my coffee is brewed fresh and ready to drink!
    I also preschedule some of our other electronics, like the vacuum or the lights or the thermostat so they all go on/off as scheduled and are not things I have to fret over at the end of the day or in the morning – they are all things I really rarely think about nowadays.
  6. DVR. Sounds silly but there are some shows that my husband and I love to watch since we still have cable, but trying to get those when they are on air is difficult, so we DVR a lot of our shows so we can binge watch on the weekends. Plus we get to skip the 30 minutes of commercials.

Of course, there are a few other tips that I am working my way on implementing in the coming weeks:

  1. Getting up at 5 AM. This is definitely a work in progress, as I am NOT a morning person, but I also want that dedicated time to myself. What a conundrum! AND this means I need to be in bed by 10…10…okay, if I really want to feel good, 9:30 but realistically 11.
  2. Updating my productivity app. Yes, there is an app for that. I want to make sure that I can also reflect at the end of the day of all the things that I accomplished, still need to finish, and what may eventually come as well. I am looking at integrating Evernote into my daily operations so even at work, I can make notes to review later.
  3. Capsule my wardrobe. There is a lot of science behind creating a capsule wardrobe which makes selecting pieces to wear even simpler and requires more creativity! I want to condense my wardrobe and will definitely post more about this to come.

Inquiring minds want to know… What do you do to help you stay productive? Have you tried any of these tips before?

It’s Not Good-bye…

There are a few things in life that you can always count on – taxes, weather, and change. Sometimes it is for the better, sometimes it is detrimental, sometimes it is bittersweet… I am not that good with change, I’ll admit. I like the routine. I like consistency. I like patterns and knowing what is coming down the pipeline – don’t I just define a Type A?

And yet, I once again am embracing change and starting a new chapter. So what’s the change I’m referring to? Is the anticipation building up yet?

Without further ado…
I’m moving!

A little over two years ago, I relocated from Florida to California. I made that move with my husband and two dogs in just about 4 days just after we hit our 6-month wedding anniversary. Let’s just say there was a lot of silence for the majority of the drive. We uprooted everything we had, packed a U-haul, and drove…and drove…and drove. But once we got here, we knew we were home! California has been so good to us with adventure, travel, food, culture, and so much more. We have met some amazing people and been able to accomplish projects we had only dreamed of. Whatever came down the road, we knew that we were now Californians for life.

But just as life goes, we received opportunities we couldn’t pass up which is taking us from the Central Valley to San Diego! So yeah, we aren’t leaving California but we are about to embark on a whole new adventure with so much to see, do, try, eat, and enjoy.

The challenges?

  • Find a way to say good-bye without saying good-bye to the Central Valley.
  • Find a place and pack in less than 1 month so we can start work right away.
  • Move two adults & two doggies within that month!
  • Get our new home ready for the holidays.
  • Be home.

I am ready and not ready at the same time. I am excited and scared and nervous and anxious. I could not ask for a better place to move to and am really looking forward to the next adventure, but I feel like I am breaking up with someone that I don’t want to break up with – I guess this is where that “you can’t have your cake and eat it too” situation comes into play.

But I know this isn’t good-bye. Especially to all the friends, we have made along the way, but this is a new chapter that I am excited to begin.

In the next few weeks, I will be looping you in on the exciting relocation adventures and take you along on our journey to find a new home!

So inquiring minds want to know… Have you had to move recently? Any tips or suggestions to make the move easier?? What’s written in your next chapter?

Dollar Down Debt

With the holidays coming up, accruing some debt is not a surprise. So what do you do when it starts to spiral out of control? Pay it down, a dollar at a time!

Okay, so I am pretty sure you’re looking at this and saying ‘yeah, no duh genius.’

So let me explain… What I mean by dollar down debt is that you take your monthly expenses, find ways to cut a dollar here or there and use that to add to your monthly payment. An example, you ask? Why of course! So let’s say you are buying lunch today at work and you can pick between the large combo for $10 or the medium for $8. Now you might be super hungry but what does the large give you that the medium doesn’t? Usually, it is just a larger drink or larger side by a handful so are you really getting more for that money? So you opt for the medium and use that $2 to put towards that debt payment on top of the minimum.

Now, instead of just paying $50 for your minimum payment which will accrue an exorbitant amount of interest, you’re paying an additional $2. That doesn’t seem like a lot but if you can stash aside an additional $50 from analyzing your expenses and cutting back on some of those frivolous upgrades then you can double or triple your monthly repayment.

So you are literally knocking down your debt, a dollar at a time!

How do you save these dollars and not apply them to other expenses? Put them aside…literally. You can have a secondary account that you transfer the funds to if you aren’t using cash OR in the event that you are using cash, put them in a “debt jar”! Or you can always set up apps that help manage your funds and track your spending habits to help you squirrel away some money to help that debt dwindle down faster!

So inquiring minds want to know… What are you doing to pay down any debt? Do you have CC that you have a revolving balance on? Do you follow Dave Ramsey’s snowball or avalanche methods?

Movetober Challenge – Check-In 1

A day late, dollar short…isn’t that how the saying goes? What do they say about 3 days late? Oh man. I failed in my first week in more than one way!

If you can forgive the negligence, this is the first check-in for Movetober and I learned a lot during the first week of the month!

So when you’re traveling, exercising and eating well are immediately pushed to the back of your mind. It’s like your body knows that I left my general zip code so everything important is now historically archived until you return. Needless to say that when I was out of town for 2 days, all attempts at exercising was futile. And if I am going to be perfectly honest, day 3 didn’t happen either because I was mentally and physically drained.

Now that doesn’t mean I didn’t move or meet my calorie-burning goal, at least per my iWatch, but I certainly didn’t adhere to my planned regimen. In fact, I forgot to even pack workout attire -not that it would’ve mattered because I had zero unscheduled/leisure time.

So week 1 was a wash and when it came to check-in, I was so busy with all of the tasks that normally would’ve been done during my vacation that I was go-go-go from 8:30 AM till I passed out.

Now that I have admitted defeat and confessed, I am back on the bandwagon. I even increased my goal on my iWatch and am trying to wake up earlier to make sure that exercising isn’t forgotten – even when I come home late and exhausted. I am keeping myself honest and realizing that perhaps my goals were a bit more aggressive than what I can actually accomplish. So am I giving up? Nope. But I am going to make sure that I am staying honest and staying committed!

So inquiring minds want to know… Do you prefer at-home workouts or do you go to a gym? What regimen do you use in the gym or at home?