inspiration, My Life

My “Top 5” Favorite Instagram Influencers

To be honest I spend way too much time on the internet and social media platforms. I absolutely love it and hate it at the same time. There are so many people and accounts out there that hype up unrealistic lifestyles for the everyday person like myself. The number of times I have gotten down on myself over what someone else was doing on social media is crazy.  I can’t believe that I let fake ideas and unattainable looks discourage me.

Recently I have cleaned up my Instagram feed and removed accounts that weren’t serving me in a positive and encouraging way. There is absolutely no reason why I should voluntarily allow myself to be put down by people when I have the power to not associate myself with it. After reviewing my newly cleaned out Instagram, I decided to share with my current top five favorite ladies I follow who inspire me and lift me up daily.

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5. @chelsvaccariello // Chelsea Vaccariello

42.8k followers on Instagram

Chelsea (CV Fitness) is the REAL DEAL. She is not like other fitness influencers who just promote products and show off their rockin’ bodies. Chelsea is genuine and creditable. She provides her audience with informative and educational videos to perform target workouts properly and effectively. She shares her personal experiences to inspire others and encourages a healthy balanced life. Chelsea is really great at connecting with her followers through her stories. She constantly is answering questions and showcasing her favorite things, which shows her friendly and perky personality.

The crazy thing about Chelsea is that when I moved to Chicago and started working at a new lululemon store, I found out she was employed there too. I fan-girl hard and Chelsea just blushes and smiles. She even let me do a school video project on her and let me say she was just beyond grateful that I looked up to her the way I do. Now that I personally know Chelsea and her background in the health and wellness field, I have to say she knows what she is talking about.  She truly is one of the sweetest humans I have ever met.

On and off social media Chelsea is a kind-hearted soul who is always open to helping others and inspiring them to live to their highest potential. I love saving her videos and doing her exercises in the gym. Thanks to Chelsea’s recommendations I found a protein  and supplement brand (1Up Nutrition) that works for me and is actually delicious.

4. @wearesoulsparks // Kristin Lohr

41.8k followers on Instagram

We Are Soul Sparks is another Chicago based influencer. Kristin is a life coach and writer who posts daily inspiration quotes. Sometimes they are written by herself, famous names, or names I have never heard of. What I love about her page is how aesthetically pleasing it is to the eye. She keeps a consistent look to her page, so the quotes always pop out in my crazy, cluttered, all over the place feed. Whenever I am in need of a pick me up, I can always count on the most recent post from Kristin to inspire me.

Kristin also has a weekly newsletter that is SERIOUSLY THE BEST. She writes about topics that are so relatable. Kristin’s vulnerability contributes to the authenticity of her words. She really knows how to open her heart, remove judgement, and problem solve. I actually had the chance to sit down with Kristin at her first ever “Soul Sparks Hangout” and it was so uplifting to hear her speak in person. She really lives by her words and practices self-love every single day. To be in a small group setting with her talking about life and enjoying wine was something I will never forget. She is a great person to follow on your good days and bad days.

3. @leefromamerica // Lee Tilghman

291k followers on Instagram

Lee from America is a real fun and educational account to follow. She is the cutest Cali girl who talks about all things self-care, holistic living, hormone balancing, and plant loving. I have only been following Lee for a few months now but she has opened my eyes to a whole new world of opportunities. She provides so many educational tips and tricks to make more conscious life choices that are better for your mental, physical, and emotional health.

I started to write my monthly intentions and post them in a place I look at daily because of Lee. She really inspires me to tune into my body and listen to my heart. That I should live my life for me and not society. I love reading her blog articles because they always teach me about new food choices, lifestyle products, and ways of thinking. I even have a list going in my phone of things from Lee that I gotta try.

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2. @chickpeainthecity // Addie Martanovic

55.5k followers on Instagram

Chickpea in the City is the gal to follow if you want to know where the best spots for sweating, eating, and grocery shopping are in Chicago. Addie has a passion for health and wellness, music and celebrating the little things daily.  Addie has all the connections with local businesses and she shares some of the best new music finds. She documents her travels to other cities like New York City and Los Angeles and shares her favorite sports there too! She is the go to guide of finding the hot spots in the health and wellness field.

Addie has introduced me to some favorite products like Simple Mills crackers and baking mixes and Kite Hill dairy free cream “cheese” spread. I have also tried places I’d never think of trying like Kitchfix and Real Good Juice. I can’t tell you the number of times I have screen shot her story because she was talking about an amazing place or food item. One time Addie was riding behind me in Soulcycle and I freaked out and ran up to her after classes. She is so funny and sweet.

1. @carly_bergman // Carly Bergman

19.6k followers on Instagram

Carly Bergman is the most down to earth, loving, and caring soul I have ever come across. We are from the same hometown and to see someone you’ve crossed paths with growing up transform their life into something bigger than themselves is truly beautiful and inspiring. Carly is an advocate for sustainability and promotes a conscious lifestyle. She has so much love for the earth and everything it offers to us. She educates her followers on a vegan lifestyle and how to create a more judgement free wholesome life.

On top of that she apart of the dream team couple (@sustainable_duo) with her boyfriend Brendan Fitzgerald (@the_sustainable_ceo), the creator of @planet_protein. Together they travel across the country promoting plant-based nutrition, conscious eating, and zero waste lifestyle tips. They share a such a strong connection and real love that I’ve never seen before. They make me want to grow my own garden (which I will one day) and explore options that are more eco-friendly.  

Carly is the reason why I first bought kombucha, she’s the reason I had my first acai bowl, she’s the reason why I decided to eat a plant-based diet in 2018. She just radiates a positive vibration that makes me want to evolve into a better version of myself. She really stays true to herself regardless of what people say and that itself really speaks to me.

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Each of these ladies contribute to my positive attitude and encourage me to live my #bestlife. They have taught me to follow my dreams and just go for my goals. Seeing them share what they love in their lives is part of the reason why I share what matters to me. You never know who might read and who it might affect in a positive way. It’s an endless chain reaction that could change people’s lives and make the world a more loving and happy place.

♦•♦

Kasey Elizabeth

 

Health & Fitness, inspiration, My Life

I Face To Be My Strongest Self

I turned “there’s no way” into “I freaking did it.”

Here’s to my year of being my strongest self.  

Stop making excuses, quit holding back. You are the only person that limits you from being the best version of yourself.

That is exactly what I am working on.I am learning that the ONLY thing pushing my back in life is my own thoughts, perceptions, and beliefs. Yeah, there are many outside influencers but the way I internalize and process the world around me is my own personal choice. 

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The winter blues have been real throughout the start of 2018. I’ve struggled to stay motivated in the midst of the bipolar Chicago winter. The dark days and cold temperatures are not my favorite, but I have been finding ways to help me through it.

This past month I decided to channel all my stress, anxiety, uncertainty, and basically every emotion I feel, into physical energy. Meaning that instead of sitting in my bed analyzing each aspect of my life as ups and downs approach (which many did), I pushed myself to break a sweat and get active.

I didn’t ignore my worries and stresses, but I choose to stop letting them define me in that very moment. I am aware of how my body feels mentally, physically, and emotionally after an intense workout. My energy is high, my mind is clear, and my heart is open. I am more productive, happy, and motivated throughout my day when I make time to release everything and just let my body do work.

Now I can lie and say I was motivated to make working out a priority for my mental health all on my own, but truth be told I wasn’t.  One of my favorite workout places in Chicago, Barry’s Bootcamp is what pushed me to face myself.

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Barry’s Bootcamp has challenging workouts that push you mentally and physically. The hour-long workout is designed to efficiently lean and tone the body. BUT IT IS ALSO FUN. The “red room” is constantly packed with high energy people working towards their goals, a dim red lighting to take away “comparing yourself to others”, and exciting and upbeat party music. It is honestly the best workout I have ever done. I always leave feeling sore, but also refreshed because every workout is different and certain days focus on certain muscle groups.  

So what exactly did I do? I pushed myself to complete 16 classes in 30 days. I signed up for their #faceyourself challenge and crushed 16 hours in the red room throughout February. That is a countless number of all-out-effort sprints at 10mph as well as numerous maximum repetitions of push ups and chest press. It was extremely difficult, but totally worth it.

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There were times where I snoozed my alarm because I wanted to sleep in and skip class, but I didn’t. I dragged myself out of bed and by the time I physically showed up for class, I was mentally ready to do my best and create a change within me. I was determined to always run faster, to lift heavier, and to stretch deeper. 

If I was going to commit my time and money by signing up for the #faceyourself challenge, you best believe I was going all in. I crushed it. I am so proud of myself for getting out of my comfort zone, showing up, and committing to something to benefit me me mentally, physically, and emotionally.

The #FACEYOURSELF challenge was the kick-start I needed to start breaking down the mental barriers I put up against myself. I am capable. I am strong. I am enough. It is up to me to create the life I want to live.

I can achieve anything and everything I truly desire if I am willing to:
Approach with an open mind
Commit & hold myself accountable
Appreciate and accept the ups and downs for what they are
Focus on the here and now but visualize the end result
Smile and breathe cause I am alive and capable

Thank you Barry’s Bootcamp for teaching me a lesson in personal responsibility and self-appreciation. I am motivated, inspired, and feeling like a badass. I worked hard to face myself and become my strongest self. 

I recommend to everyone and anyone to find what works for you. You are aware of your interest and passions so put the work in. Stop waiting. Stop avoiding it. Put yourself out there and start working towards what you truly want out of life. If I can achieve greatness, so can you.

Health & Fitness

Getting creative in the Kitchen!

Trying to eat a balanced diet on a college student budget is extremely difficult. On top of that, being surrounded by so many amazing places and products in Chicago make it harder to control my food spending habits. I can’t tell you the number of times I have gone over my weekly budget on groceries.

This week I have challenged myself to use the products and foods that have been sitting in my kitchen, untouched, because I bought them on impulse. Often, I over purchase for myself and end up throwing food out because it goes bad or I forget about it.

Instead going to one of the many local grocery stores, I decided to look more thoroughly than usual at what I have left in my kitchen. To my surprise I didn’t find myself saying, “I have no food left”, instead I was shocked by the amount of food products I have neglected to use the past few weeks.

I may be out of my staples of bananas, orange juice, and avocados; but I have so much in my pantry and fridge that I can use to create tasty, healthy, meals. So I put on my thinking cap and decided to get creative in my kitchen. My goal was to take full advantage of what food I do have handy.

When cooking it is important to me that my foods are filling, nutritious, and easy to take on the go. (and obviously tasty) I usually just mix a bunch of things together in hopes that they work out, and to my luck recently the meals and snacks have come out amazing! I don’t want to lose my tasty creations so I decided to share them with you!


The first thing I made over the weekend was a vegan friendly tofu dinner/lunch that I took to work with me. SUPER SIMPLE and SOOO GOOD.

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What I used:

  • Half a package of organic tofu from Jewel
  • Half a green pepper chopped
  • Quarter of an onion chopped
  • Half a can of black beans rinsed out
  • 2 Cups of organic jasmine rice

What I did:

  1. Cut, rinse, and dry out tofu. While tofu is drying, chop your onions and peppers into the desired size.
  2. Cook rice according to what the package says. I prefer using a  rice cooker because it ALWAYS makes to rice come out perfectly.
  3. Lightly oil frying pan (I used spray olive oil). Cook tofu by itself until it begins to brown. Stir it constantly! Use medium heat.
  4. Add peppers and onions into the large frying pan with tofu. Keep stirring!
  5. Add desired seasonings to your mixture. I used literally a little bit of everything in my kitchen.
    • Turmeric
    • Garlic PowderIMG_5834
    • Italian Seasoning
    • Sea Salt
    • Black Pepper
  1. Continue to fry tofu, peppers, and onions at medium heat until the vegetables look fully cooked.
  2. Open a can of black beans, drain and rinse them. Let them sit to dry out a bit.
  3. When rice and tofu mixture are done, let them sit to cool before you pack everything into reusable food storage containers to take on the go!

 

I topped off the finished product with green dragon sauce from Trader Joe’s and let me tell you, my meal tasted amazing at work! All I had to do was heat it up in the microwave for two minutes, then bam! I enjoyed it.

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The second thing I made is for breakfast on the go. The idea sprouted because I go back to school this week and knowing myself I will be rushing to get to my 8am classes on time. From what I had in my kitchen, it looked like matcha pumpkin protein muffins was the way to go.  

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What I used:

  • 1 can of 100% pure pumpkin
  • Organic vegan pumpkin spice protein
  • ¼ cup of organic matcha green tea powder
  • 1.5 cups of brown rice flour
  • 1 cup of rolled oats
  • ⅓ cup of organic ground flaxseed
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup of almond milk
  • ¼ cup of coconut oil
  • 1 tsp of baking soda
  • 2 tsp of ground cinnamon
  • Chia seeds (for sprinkling)

What I did:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Measure and mix all dry ingredients into a medium-sized bowl. (protein powder, matcha, brown rice flour, oats, flax-seed, baking soda, cinnamon)
  3. Measure and mix all wet ingredients into a large-sized bowl. (pumpkin, eggs, almond milk, coconut oil)
  4. Slowly add dry ingredient mixture to the wet ingredient mixture. I stirred by hand, but feel free to use an electronic mixer.
  5. Add muffin wrappers into muffin tin and SPRAY them with baking spray!! (or else they will stick to the wrapper)
  6. Use ice cream scooper to scoop completely mixed muffin batter into muffin tin cups.
  7. Sprinkle Chia seeds on top of each muffin!
  8. Bake for 12-15 minutes. (WATCH THEM!)
  9. Let cool and enjoy right away! OR Wrap muffins up and store in the fridge to grab on the go!

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Lastly, I prepared my own mason jar trail mix with all the random snacks I had in my kitchen. When I am out and about I always find myself stopping at the local corner store to grab a snack. Spending $2-$3 here and there adds up so quickly!

A few weeks ago I bought myself a bunch of random nuts and such from Aldi and haven’t touched them yet! To think I would’ve gone to the grocery store to buy protein bars and chips is crazy! I had so much goodness stocked up in the back of my cabinet.

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What I used:

  • Dry roasted unsalted peanuts
  • Whole almonds unsalted
  • Dry roasted unsalted sunflower kernels
  • Dried fruit medley (pineapple, banana, papaya, golden raisins, raisins, coconut)
  • Organic Coconut Flakes

What I did:

  1. Tossed all handful of each product into a mason jar and shook it!
  2. Throw it into your purse or backpack for a healthy snack on the go.

 

It is amazing what one can find when they take the time to really look. Yes, it takes longer to get creative and prepare meals, but if you just take a couple of hours out of one day you can prepare enough food to last you a few days and even the whole week.

I am really proud of myself for being more conscious about what’s in my kitchen. I just saved myself a trip to the grocery store and money. Exciting thing is, I was still was able to prepare myself healthy, filling meals!

So before you say, “there is no food in this house”, take a closer look and get creative. We should all be grateful that we have the luxury to eat three meals a day, every day.

To keep up to date with my cooking and baking creations, follow me on Instagram! I am constantly updating my story with my current eats!  

inspiration, My Life

New Year, Even Stronger Me!

2018, I am ready for you! Here’s to a year of personal strengthening: mentally, physically and emotionally. Each of my goals for this year are working towards expanding my knowledge, improving my weaknesses, and creating something new and empowering for myself.

I’m really excited about another revolution around the sun because each year brings new experiences and opportunities that fuel my soul and ignite the fire inside me. I know this year will also bring challenges and obstacles, but I am making a promise to myself to conquer them head on with an open mind and loving heart.

To be completely honest my goals for 2018 are inspired by some really amazing and influential people in my life as well as the subconscious fears I’ve been avoided committing to in the past. I wanted to share my goals with the public to inspire others and myself. There is nothing better than putting your wants and desires out into the universe and watching them blossom.

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Kasey’s Personal Goals For 2018: The Year of Strengthening

Take A Yoga Class Once Per Week!

Yoga really helped me from junior year of high school to my freshman year of college as I was constantly fighting a battle within myself. I was not in control of my emotional state of mind; I was a being filled with constant high anxiety and depression and through yoga I discovered how to breathe and take control over the way my body feels. I fell in love with the way yoga makes me feel and in the past couple years I’ve been putting my practice on the back burner due to other responsibilities I have. Lately I’ve been letting myself fall back into the weak state of mind I once had, and I know yoga helps me through it so I am committing myself to make time for my mat once a week. One class, one hour, one moment just for me. Even if it has to be a Yoga With Adriane video on YouTube! Yoga heals.

Read 2 Books Per Month!

I have never been much of a reader. I don’t know the reason why but I have never gotten into books, like ever. One of my professors I had this fall (shout out to Bruce Boyer at RU) ended the semester by informing my class on the importance of reading and writing as integrated marketing communications major. I’ve always known that reading improves your vocabulary and challenges your mind, yet I haven’t pushed myself to get into it. After my professors lecture and conversation with my class, I realized that at 21 years old, it is crucial for me to spend more of my time with my face in my book and not my phone. How am I going to successfully write for a living if I don’t take the time to read other people’s writing? It’s like the lightbulb just clicked on and it’s time for me to catch up on what I’ve been missing out on. Thanks Boyer for inspiring me to read anything and everything!

Run Kasey, Run!

Running used to be the death of me until this past October. I decided to run a 15k on a whim with my roommate and actually enjoyed it. I’m already pretty physically active, but never ever have I been a runner. Though the 15k was extremely difficult (realistically I wasn’t prepared), the feeling I had after completing the race was something I have never felt before. It was so rewarding and I felt so proud of myself for facing my fears and just going for it. So for 2018 I have signed myself up for a 10k race and a half marathon! I’m not about do any sort of race on a whim again so here’s to running weekly in order to prepare myself for completing races! I know I am physically capable of running, but it’s time to strengthen my mental ability.

Eat A More Plant Based Diet!

This goal I started a little before the new year, but I am proud to say that I’ve finally committed myself to be a ovo-vegetarian for a year. This decision was a difficult one to commit too since I already have such a limiting diet. (celiac disease, which eliminates gluten and anaphylactic allergies to tree nuts and shelled fished). In 2017 I gave up dairy because it was making me feel quite sickly. Though I am not diagnosed by a doctor with lactose intolerance, it is quite a common thing for people with celiac disease to develop. I know my body and ever since I’ve eliminated dairy I have felt less bloated and food flows through my digestive system without physical pain. YAHOO! I decided to take my diet one step further in a more clean and healthy way by eating more fruits and vegetables and natural foods. My journey has just begun and there is a lot more I plan to learn throughout 2018, but thanks to my friend and vegan activist, Carly Bergman for being educator and influencer for me to make this choice. YOU ROCK!


It’s not even one week fully into 2018, but I am pumped up and already working to live my life to fullest! I am really excited about my goals because they are concrete, tangible, and measurable! They all works to growing my personal strength; mentally, physically, and emotionally. Life is so beautiful and offers so many amazing things and to realize that I can create whatever I desire out of it is so exciting!

SOOO..here’s to you, me, and 2018. Write your goals down, share them with those who love and support you, and accomplish them head on with love and gratitude for all experiences! You are loved and capable of doing whatever your heart desires! Cheers to the new year and even better version of you!

♥♥♥


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Image courtesy of Spiritual Gangster
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Image courtesy of lululemon
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Image courtesy of Kristin Lohr
Health & Fitness, inspiration

Yes, You Can!

“Do one thing a day that scares you” -Eleanor Roosevelt

Recently, I discovered that doing something that takes you out of element, challenges you, and scares you truly helps you grow.

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I have never been known as an athlete. As a child, I basically tried every sport in the books and never developed the talent, skills, or coordination to really succeed. I always had a good spirit and got my teammates pumped up and excited, but I was known as the benchwarmer.

I always was one of the last people to finish the mile run in gym class, and never first chosen for kickball teams at recess. I was still a physically active child, who played outside, enjoyed riding my bike, and being at the park; but I never was considered “sporty” or athlete in the making.

When high school rolled around, I felt pressured to be involved in sports because I thought it was “the cool thing to do”. It was ultimately a disaster, I bounced around activates from year to year, never really finding a place where I felt like I fit in and could succeed in.

From cheerleading, to golf, to show choir, I gave everything a shot. Yes, I did like being a part of these teams and activities, but at the heart I felt disconnected, not good enough, and sometimes embarrassed at my lack of ability.

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Towards the end of my high school career, I started to take up yoga and going to the gym. I feel in love with hot vinyasa flows, and yoga sculpting with weights. For about two and a half years I made yoga apart of my weekly routine and it worked well for me. For once, I finally considered myself capable of being good at a sport or activity.

Now that I am halfway through my college experience, I have begun to experiment more with weight lighting, cardio, boot camp classes, and cycling. I am constantly trying new group fitness classes and exploring new exercises in the gym.

•••

My point in sharing the history of my athletic ability and fitness journey thus far, is to tell you that you CAN do anything you put your mind too. Don’t let the stigmas created by society limit you. Don’t let your pass define you. Just because you have always been “known” for being a certain way, doesn’t mean you should live up to that name.

I was never the athletic girl growing up. I was never confident in my physical abilities.

I let myself be just the benchwarmer. I let other people’s opinions get to me. I let the degrading words bring me down. I told myself I wasn’t good enough and I never pushed myself past it. I never believed in myself.

•••

Now here I am, doing all the things I never thought I could do because I finally realized that I only lack the ability, coordination, and skills because of my limiting thoughts, unwillingness to work harder, and fear of what others will say.

I discovered that doing something that takes you out of element, challenges you, and scares you truly helps you grow. I’ve pushed myself harder to prove to myself that I am not just an uncoordinated girl who can’t do it. I am no longer scared that I may embarrass myself or that I may mess up and be known as a joke. I finally broke down the all mental barriers that have been up for as long as I can remember.

•••

I am confident in my physical capabilities. For once in my life I am setting and achieving athletic goals. Never in a million years did I think I could lift more than 20lbs at a time, run a 15K, or even touch my toes.

It is amazing to what the body can do when you open your mind up to the possibilities.

So, go ahead… break down your personal barriers and limitations and challenge yourself to overcome what scares you the most. You may discover a new passion or talent, or even a love for something you never knew existed.