I’m Going to College!

In less than 3 weeks I will officially be a high school graduate! Most people say that the last few weeks of high school are spent looking back and realizing how much you will actually miss this place, but that has NOT been the case with me. Am I some kind of freak?

As graduation quickly approaches, all I can think about is how excited I am for the future. In a month I’m headed to Colorado for a week spent in the mountains and in July I’m packing my bags working at a summer camp for 5 weeks (more info on that to come). But most importantly, in three months I am leaving Austin, Texas (where I have lived my entire life) and moving to South Carolina to attend Clemson University!

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I seriously could not be more excited about the next four years of my life and where I have decided to spend them. If you would have asked me what college I thought I would be attending this time last year, Clemson would not have even been on my radar. But by the grace of God I found my future home and fell in love instantly. I visited the school and I could just tell it was the perfect place for me. Every single person I met was so nice, the traditions were super fun, and I’m a sucker for some great college football.

I am so excited to start my college experience, but my excitement comes with some major nerves. Unlike all of my friends, I am moving out of state. I will be a good 16 hour drive away from all of my friends and family. That means no weekend trips back to see my parents. And while I am beyond excited to get out of my preppy high school’s bubble and to meet new people, I don’t know a single person at Clemson.

So, with that, if any of you lovely internet people go to Clemson, know someone at Clemson, or are going to be a freshman there next year like me, please please please let me know! I would love to talk to any of you about it (trust me, I could talk about it for hours)! Feel free to shoot me a comment or email at abbyb4@gmail.com. I am so excited about this next chapter in my life and can’t wait to start making new friends!

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Throwback Thursday || Playlist

I’m obsessed with making Spotify playlists. I have a playlist for pretty much every situation, from homework to parties and car rides. The latest playlist that I have been listening to non-stop is a throwback playlist full of my favorite songs from when I was a kid. I thought it would be fun to share with y’all! You’ll notice there is a lot of disney songs on there… I went through a phase.

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You can listen to this Spotify playlist here. What are your favorite childhood songs?

 

Tips for Walking 10,000 Steps Every Day!

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Now that I have made it a goal to walk at least 10,000 steps every day (which I track using a Jawbone Up, pictures above), I realize how lazy I can be! If I don’t have anything specific planned for the day, it can be extremely challenging to reach my goal. I usually find myself walking laps around my house at 11:00 every night in order to get 1,000 more steps before midnight.

Because of this, I have been on the look out for little things I can do to get some extra steps in! All of these are tiny habits I have picked up in order to keep my legs moving a little bit more in my journey to 10,000. Even if you aren’t counting your steps, these are good habits to make to stay a tiny bit more active.

  1. Park far away || Whenever I’m not in a rush (which, let’s be honest, is not very often), I have made an effort to pass up that front row parking spot and opt for a space a bit farther away. The difference may seem small, but getting in the habit can add just a few more steps to your day.
  2. Take the long way || Kind of like parking farther away, I have found myself taking the long way to class in order to sneak in a few extra steps. Every moment counts!
  3. Skip the elevator || Okay, so this may not be too realistic if you work on the 15th floor of an office building, but switching from the elevator to the stairs can definitely add some quick cardio to your day!
  4. Split up trips || Do you ever load up your arms with grocery bags to avoid having to make multiple trips back to the car? Stop it! Split up tour trips to keep yourself moving a little bit longer.
  5. Pace while brushing || Make it a habit to walk around your bathroom or bedroom while brushing your teeth every morning or night. You’ll be surprised just how many steps you can reach in a minute!

While individually these things may seem insignificant, doing each of these every day can add a good amount of pep to your step! As I have been learning in my fitness journey, sometimes it is the small things that add up to big changes.

Midnight Music

Usually when I go to concerts, they take lots of planning. I buy tickets months in advance and stand in line for hours waiting to get in. But on Friday night, two of my friends and I took full advantage of the wonderful city of Austin and went to a spur of the moment concert. It was fabulous!

We found out our friend Colin Leonard was the opening act for a local Austin band the Friendly Savages, so we dropped what we were doing and headed downtown! But before and good concert, you have to eat good food, so we made a quick stop at my favorite food trailer, Gourdough’s, to eat some of the world’s best donuts. I ordered a Black Out, while my friends ate Mama’s Cake and a Dirty Berry. So yummy!

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The concert was at Stubbs, which is one of my favorite venues (I’ve seen The 1975 and NEEDTOBREATHE there too). The show was on the inside stage, so we thankfully didn’t have to stand in the 30 degree whether all night.

Both bands were SO GREAT! I would highly recommend both Colin and the Friendly Savages’ albums. The crowd loved the entire show, as did I. Everyone was dancing and singing along, there was such a great atmosphere. Plus, I ran into many friends that I haven’t seen in a long time. The concert ran until around 12:30, but it was such a great night!

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FullSizeRhenderSorry for the low quality photos, I only had my phone with me!

Happy & Healthy || No. 2

It has officially been two weeks since I started my little fitness challenge, so you know what that means! It is time for an update on my past goals, as well as adding a few more to slowly build up my healthy lifestyle.

I have successfully met all three of my goals all 14 days, and I am so proud of myself! It feels great to know that I set a healthy standard for myself and had the discipline to go through with it. Blogging about this has seriously made all the difference. I look forward to sharing my successes with y’all, and knowing that I would have to admit to not reaching my goals encourages me to try extra hard to meet all of them.

Now for all of the fun stuff! After two weeks of no soda, 10,000 steps a day, and not hitting snooze on my alarm, I feel happy. I’m not craving soda as much as I did in the beginning, I feel more energized in the mornings, and I am keeping myself much more active than I normally do on a daily basis. Yay! As I add new goals, I am going to continue to keep these healthy habits.

Weeks 3 & 4 Goals

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1. Work out twice a week. Yes, I know, this is probably the most vague goal I could set, but I need to start somewhere! Weather I go on a hike through my neighborhood nature trial, go to the gym, or spend 30 minutes doing a workout from my Nike Training Club app, I am going to work out 2 times this week! I’ll get more specific on workouts in the future. Small steps.

2. Don’t drink any crazy coffees. Okay, you know what I mean. There is no way I would survive without coffee in general, but I don’t need any 470 calorie Frappuccinos from Starbucks. No more of that super high in fat and sugar stuff foe me. Classic coffee it is!

3. Do schoolwork at my desk. I know, I know, working in bed is probably the biggest no-no in the book. It is probably my worst habit! I’m actually terrified to make this a goal because I do this so often, but I need to stop! All work will be done from the comfort of my desk from now on. Wish me luck!

Did all of you reach your goals from last week? What are you adding to your list? Any other suggestions for me? I would love to hear from y’all!

Intro || Week 1 update

P.S. I have a question for all of you! What are your opinions on using an app such as My Fitness Pal to track what you eat every day? I have always heard mixed things about counting calories and would love some insight!

An Escape From Reality

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0317.Little weekend trips are my favorite. There is something about grabbing a duffle bag and just throwing in whatever clothes are closest that makes me think of adventure. Last weekend, I got to escape from reality for a few days and go on a church retreat with my YoungLife group! This trip could not have come at a better time, with the start of the semester already stressing me out (how is that even possible?).

Friday afternoon, 200 of my closest friends and I (ha) loaded onto a charter bus and drove three short hours to my favorite place in the entire world. It just so happened the retreat was taking place at the summer camp I have been going to for the past seven years; the one I am working at this summer! LLYC has a special place in my heart and made the trip that much more exciting.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0230. The weekend was the perfect mix of adventure and much needed relaxation. Great times of worship and bonding were followed by dance parties and paint wars. Thought provoking sermons preceded silly games and tons of laughter. Best of all, I got to spend quality time with my girls and show them a place that has made such an impact on my life. Not to mention, the canyon looks gorgeous! The whether  could not have been better.

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DCIM100GOPROG0220293.I also made a short video highlighting the fun I had at Polar Bear if you want to hop on over to my Instagram and check it out. I hope everyone had an enjoyable weekend & happy MLK day!

 

6 Social Media Sites to Increase Blog Traffic

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As a blogger, it’s important to me to try and get as many people as possible reading my site. This can seem difficult, but there are easy and efficient ways to use those ever so addicting social media sites to increase blog traffic! Here is how I use my favorite websites to increase visibility of my blog.

Pinterest: I get a sizable amount of views from Pinterest. I found a great post on Helene in Between all about using Pinterest to drive traffic to your blog! I always pin any graphic I make for my blog (like these from my Grad Gift Guide) or any pictures that go with the themes of my boards on Pinterest. All DIY, design, fashion, beauty or recipe posts should be put on Pinterest, people love to pin those! The more repins it gets, the farther the reach of your blog can go. Just make sure the picture link back to the original post on your blog.
Tumblr: Personally, I had a Tumblr long before I started seriously blogging on Joyfully Abby. This gave me a follower audience I could advertise this site to when I first started! Post a link to all of your new blog posts on Tumblr to reach a wider audience. Even if you use your Tumblr as a personal site that does not relate to your business, it is a great way to put your blog out there to different people and reach a larger audience.Screen Shot 2014-05-20 at 6.28.26 PM
Twitter, Instagram, Facebook: These 3 basic social media sites are vital for creating a larger audience for your blog. Creating an account will keep your readers connected at all times. Posting a link to each of your blog posts on different sites will encourage more readers, and more consistent readers as well! Post other statuses/tweets/pictures that relate to the topic you blog about, so that they appeal to your followers!
Bloglovin’: Repeat readers are the most important. It’s better to build up a loyal reader base than have random people occasionally looking at random posts. Bloglivin’ helps build that loyal readership. I’ve done a previous post about Bloglivin’, and it explains the basics. To start, claim your blog by clicking on “Your blog” in the drop down menu, and then pressing “Claim blog” on the left.

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Your followers will be notified every time you write a new post, and it automatically shows up on their dashboard. This encourages every post to be viewed and read! Plus, it is a great way to organize all the blogs you want to read daily. Popular post and blogs may be featured, driving even more traffic to your site.

Hopefully, this guide will help you get your blog out there to as many people as possible! Don’t forget to be patient. Building a successful blog and large readership takes time and commitment, so keep going! Also, make sure to follow me on all the sites to keep updated with everything Joyfully Abby!

Pinterest // Tumblr // Twitter // Instagram // Bloglovin

A Healthy Start

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It is time for a little update on Self-Improvement Sunday: Abby’s Fitness Adventure (I clearly still do not have a solid name for my little project). Today is the one week mark for my fitness challenge! I have been surprised in so many ways during just this one week, and I can’t wait to share it all with you!

First off, it has been much easier than I expected to go without soda! I ate out 3 different times this week (reducing that number is another project for another time) and I didn’t feel the need to order a soda even once! I did almost break under the need for caffeine at my friend’s house on Tuesday, but I resisted the urge and was extremely proud of myself after the fact. Seven days strong with no soda!

Next up is my goal to not hit snooze every morning. So far so good! This week I have been forced to get up even earlier than usual due to projects and other things I need to do in the mornings before class, and I have successfully gotten out of bed every day! I seriously feel so much better when I don’t lay around in the mornings, getting straight out of bed when my alarm goes off is definitely making my mornings a little more bearable.

Finally, I have been trying to take 10,000 steps every day. This one has definitely turned out to be the most challenging, but so far every day I have hit my goal! Over the weekend it was much easier for me to take all the steps, but spending 7 hours a day in school has posed a real challenge. Three times this week I found myself at around 9,000 steps at 11:00 PM, forcing me to run laps around my house so that I can get 1,000 more before midnight. But the challenge has visibly helped me stay a little bit more active! I am taking the long way to class and walking a lot more than I ever have before. I even opted out of taking a golf cart at a golf tournament I was photographing and walked the entire course instead! That day I got to 10,000 steps with ease.

I love the habits that this challenge is forcing me to make and break. My best friend Maddie is using an Up band to track her steps with me, and it’s great having someone else there to encourage me and keep me accountable in reaching my goals!

Next week, along with an update on my current goals, I will be setting an additional 3 more to continue my journey in living a happier, healthier life. Any suggestions on what they should be?

Want to see where my journey started? Let’s travel back in time… Intro // Week 1

Shake it Like a Polaroid Picture

I love fun little gadgets! For Christmas this year, one of my presents was an instant photo camera (AKA Polaroid, just not Polaroid brand!) and I think it is my favorite thing I got! My parents gave me a Fuji Instax 210, and it is so great! The pictures are super wide and it is just such a fun thing to bring on adventures with friends! Plus, it is fun seeing the film slowly develop instantly right in front of your eyes!

Last week four of my friends and I went to a little independent coffee house, Mozart’s Coffee Roasters. I brought my camera and we had so much fun having a mini photoshoot! Mozart’s is on lake Austin and is a quirky little place, so it was a beautiful place to take fun photos (even thought it was 10:00 at night, and pitch black outside). Look at how fun these are!

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So if you are trying to think of a fun and unique gift for a friend or just want to treat yourself, I would highly recommend getting a Polaroid camera! It is a fun way to create memories that will last a lifetime.