I think a new month calls for some other new-ness, don’t ya think?
That being said, I am BEYOND excited to officially begin a brand new series on the blog – LOVELY HUMANS! I’ve wanted to do this for a loooong time. It’s called “Lovely Humans” because it’s dedicated to exactly that – other lovely humans. In a nutshell, I’ll be interviewing and/or talking about people who inspire me. Amazing people who fascinate me, motivate me, and teach me new things. You can expect to hear about other bloggers, some of my friends, and people who are just total badasses at their craft, whatever that might be. I have some fab people lined up for interviews, and I can’t wait to see what you think! GET PUMPED.
We’re kickin’ things off with Natalie Kelley – the blogger babe behind Blonde Gone Clean. Nat and I have never met in real life, but we became Internet friends after finding each other’s blogs and realizing that we have almost too much in common. Like me, she’s a college-aged blogger, which means she totally gets the struggles of trying to balance everything as a young adult. This babe is doing a million and five things but still keeps her shit together, which I love. Not many college students can do that, TBH. If you haven’t checked out her blog yet, you absolutely need to. You will fall in love. Nat’s a total sweetheart, driven as hell, a fitness rockstar, a recipe guru, and a health nut. Ready for the deets behind BGC?
First, tell me a little bit about yourself!
In a nutshell, I’m a fitness loving foodie that grew up in a small town. I’ve always been an active person – I began dancing (ballet, tap, jazz, lyrics… you know, the works) when I was 3 and only stopped 12 years later to begin high school cheer. My love affair with running started my freshman year at Linfield College when I needed something to help me heal after losing a close friend. Now, as an upcoming junior, I’m still just as in love with running as ever and am now also very focused on weight lifting. I’m fueling my body better than ever and have really begun working towards new goals, and with it I’ve finally found so much happiness and peace.
When I’m not running or lifting I’m experimenting with recipes and researching nutrition facts… I’m kind of a health nerd (and a proud one at that!). I’m a Mass Communications major, and I’m hoping to go into advertising (even though full-time blogging as a career would be the DREAM). In the little free time I have, I love being involved in my sorority, drawing, and reading (I’m kind of just a normal nerd too. LOL.)
Tell me about the beginning of your blog! What inspired you and how did you get started?
I began my blog almost exactly a year ago, and it’s been so amazing to see how a simple idea has bloomed. I have always been a healthy person, but last summer is when I really got interested in health. It was partially because I figured out I have a lot of food sensitivities, which forced me to take control of my health even more and get creative in the kitchen. I wanted a way to share all of my passions (I was getting a little tired just snapchatting pictures of my pretty food and fun workouts to a handful of friends that didn’t really care). It was actually my mom who suggested a blog at first, so I ran with the idea. I actually started my blog with another one of my sorority sisters, but she ended up leaving it in December, and I’ve been a solo act since then. I’ve totally been able to personalize my blog now and have found more inspiration than ever because of it.
When did you first get interested in healthy living?
I’ve always been a pretty healthy person. My family was pescatarian for most of my life (I now eat some poultry, too) and always valued healthy, organic, and fresh food. I’m so thankful my parents raised me to value these things because I truly believe it shaped me into the person I am today. This past year is when I really dove into healthy living and began learning as much as I could about fitness and nutrition. I just LOVE learning about what I’m putting in my body and helping fuel it in the best possible way. It’s so easy to fall astray from a healthy lifestyle in college, but with a little hard work it isn’t hard to stay on top of it.
You’re a full-time student, you have a blog, you’re in a sorority, you stay active, you develop recipes…You’re doing it all! How do you make time for everything and stay motivated to keep going?!
One simple word: planner. Honestly, I’m probably unhealthily attached to my planner. I just use a leather-bound daily planner that allows me to schedule my days by the hour as well as create to-do lists for each day. But seriously, I take it EVERYWHERE. I feel a little lost without it. I keep it super neat and tidy and color coordinate so I know if it’s class, blog, sorority, work, or workout related. Between taking a full class load, having a position in my sorority, blogging, working two jobs and finding time to run/workout 5 days a week, it does get a little hectic at times.
I’m not going to pretend I have my shit together all the time, because I definitely don’t. I still get stressed, I still sometimes break down when I feel like I have too much to do, but I’ve simply learned to plan ahead and handle my stress in positive ways. I know all of these things are so important to me, so I simply have to make the time and stay calm in order to do it all to my best ability. Having my weeks planned out ahead of time and doing things ahead on the weekends is truly my savior. I’ve never been a procrastinator, but I became even less of one in college. I do as much as I can ahead of time on Fridays and over the weekend (I swear I’m not completely boring…) so that I don’t have to be crazy stressed during the week when I have a ton going on. And when you work ahead it ends up leaving more time to relax at the end of the night and do things for YOU, like read a good book, hangout with friends, or simply go to bed early.
Despite having a million things going on at all times, I still find a way to go to bed before 11 almost every night (typically it’s 9:30) because I do a good job of planning. Sure, call me a grandma. 😉 And honestly, getting up early is key. If you feel like you don’t have enough hours in the day to do everything you want, it’s probably because it’s true. I get up at 5:30 every day in order to fit it all in and I’ve trained myself to LOVE being a morning person. Waking up early and knowing I have that much more time to do all of the things I want and need to do gets me so motivated.
What are some of your other favorite blogs to read?
There’s this one really good blog called Addicted to Lovely, I don’t know if you’ve heard of it. 😉 But honestly, jokes aside, I LOVE your blog. I love reading blogs of people my own age, and I just feel like you totally get it 100% of the time (like for real, are we twins?). I also love love love The Balanced Blonde, and it was actually the first blog I started following. Jordan is just such an honest and uplifting individual, and her love for life gets me so jazzed. I also love getting healthy recipes from Rachel Mansfield’s blog and other health/food blogs I stumble upon when searching for recipes!
What are 3 of your favorite beauty products?
I use mainly natural beauty products because healthy skin is just as important as healthy insides! I swear by my Mineral Fusion pressed powder foundation (I’ve seriously used the same kind since I began wearing makeup way back when in like, the eighth grade), because I feel like it evens out my skin tone without being heavy like liquid foundations. I also love Bare Minerals all over face color in Faux Tan because I like protecting my skin so I never get that tan, even in the summer. It’s super sheer, looks completely natural, and just makes me look like I have more of a glow. Last, but not least, I always use Gabriel eye primer and eye shadow in “Bone.” I’m super low maintenance when it comes to eye shadow (I only use actual colors or attempt the smoky eye when it’s a special occasion), so this color (can you even call it that?) just adds a little something so my eyelids don’t feel naked.
What’s your idea of the perfect Saturday?
I absolutely love the weekend, and not for the same reasons that typical college kids do. I just love having so much extra time to do what I love. Honestly, my perfect Saturday would be waking up around 6 (yup, I’m one of those crazy morning people, even on the weekend) going on a run, and lifting at the gym. I’d make a big breakfast (most likely a protein acai bowl or something to do with peanut butter) and then relax with some coffee for a bit. I’d fill the rest of the day with blogging at a cute coffee shop, grocery shopping (I freaking love grocery shopping) at Whole Foods, exploring new foodie spots (probably in Portland since it’s close to my school), eating all the yummy healthy things, and spending time with my amazing friends. I’d end the night relaxing with tea, watching some good old Netflix, or reading a good book. It may not be the ideal Saturday for most college students, but I’ve finally learned to accept that I’m not your average 20-year-old and I’m 100% okay with that.
What’s your exercise routine like now?
This summer I started a new routine and I’m LOVING it. I know you’ve had a history with over exercising, and girl let me tell you, I can relate. I had the goal to get more muscular (especially in the booty) but I was doing it all wrong. I thought exercising more and more would get me there. I was WAY wrong. I now workout 5 days a week, running 4-5 miles each day and then lifting / weight training.
Mondays and Thursdays are legs and booty, Tuesday and Friday are arms (one day is focused on back and bicep and the other is bicep and tri), Saturday is full body (I typically go pretty hard on this day because it’s the weekend and that’s my form of celebration!), and Wednesday and Sunday are rest days. Wednesday is more of an “active” rest day, so I try to go on a nice walk or do a short 15 minute yoga flow to wake up. Just something to get my body moving. I know this still may seem like a lot to people, but it’s quite a step back for me and my body is responding in amazing ways!
What tips would you give to anyone trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle in college?
- Don’t feel like you have to binge drink every weekend. I made the decision to not drink anymore (not just to be healthier, but it was one reason), and with that came a lot of questions and weird looks, but I stood firm and so much positivity came out of it. Honestly, I think it’s such an awful social norm that just because you’re in college you have to love getting drunk. I’m not saying you have to give up alcohol 100% to be healthy, but cutting back and not getting wasted every weekend is definitely a huge step. Enjoying a nice glass of red wine with dinner or happy hour out with friends is fine, but getting smashed every Friday and Saturday night at the frats will definitely set you back if you’re trying to stay healthy.
- Try to cook your own meals (or at least some of them). YES, college is super busy and stressful and you feel like you have no time to do anything, let alone cook, but taking the time to do so helps immensely if you’re trying to be healthier. So, sure, ordering another pizza may be easier, but spending a little extra time to cook your own dinner will pay off in the end.
- Keep healthy snacks around. If you keep your pantry stocked full of chips, candy, and Pop-Tarts, chances are that’s what you’re going to reach for when you’re hungry or up late studying. Stock up on snacks like plain popcorn, rice cakes, hummus, dried fruit, healthy protein bars, nuts, nut butters, and oatmeal, and you’ll see a huge difference. Unhealthy snacking is something every college student struggles with, but when you have healthy foods to munch on you can pretty much eat as much as you want because they’re fueling your body in the right ways.
- Meal prep. Going back to how busy college is, prepping helps make sure you always have healthy options even when crunched for time. I don’t necessarily mean cooking a ton of meals ahead of time either. Simply prepping fruits and veggies to have cut up and on hand in the fridge helps a ton. I always love prepping some quinoa and/or brown rice to have handy to just heat up, cooking soups, meats, etc. and then freezing them for easy re-heating, and baking healthy muffins for breakfast. Also, if I know the next day I’m going to be on-the-go, I make sure to have a lunch and plenty of snacks packed so I’m not stuck having to buy something unhealthy. Planning ahead is key!
- Make working out a priority. It kills me to see so many college students put themselves, and their health, last. YOU DESERVE TO MAKE TIME TO TREAT YOUR BODY RIGHT! Schedule in your workouts and don’t let that be the first thing you push aside when something else comes up. I treat my workouts like I would a class or important meeting. This doesn’t mean never ever bail on a workout when something spontaneous comes up, but it just means don’t let excuses keep you from staying on top of your health.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to an incoming college freshman?
Stay true to you. It may sound cheesy, but it’s something I wish I had listened to myself during my freshman year. College is a fresh start, but make sure that fresh start doesn’t completely change you. Don’t conform yourself to fit into certain crowds, don’t refrain from joining clubs or taking certain classes just because you don’t think it’s what people would expect from you, don’t hide your passions because they aren’t “the norm.” By being genuinely yourself, you will attract like-minded people and those people will become your forever friends. Trust me.
What’s one beauty trend/tip that you swear by?
Eyebrows. I know it sounds weird, but I literally won’t leave my house without filling them in now. And no, it’s not like I don’t have eyebrows, but defining them just makes me feel like a badass bitch and boosts my confidence. I think it just really finishes any look and makes anyone look that much more put together and ready to take on the day.
Tell me one of your favorite quick and easy go-to meals!
Ever since I was little I’ve loved smorgasbord meals, so it’s no surprise that my favorite on-the-go meal is a little bit of everything: Beyond Meat meatless “chicken strips” + veggies (baby carrots, cut up peppers, and cucumbers usually) + Mary’s Gone Crackers gluten-free crackers + hummus (I loveeee Lily’s organic hummus) + fruit on the side, and either some raw nuts or nut butter. It’s easy, but also fun and has a nice balance of protein, carbs, and fat! Plus finger foods are easy to eat quickly between classes or at my desk at work.
3 foods you can’t live without?
Peanut butter/almond butter (I’m cheating and counting that as one – I just can’t pick between them!), bananas, and proats (GF oatmeal + Vega plant based protein powder).
Tell me about a longterm goal you have right now.
I feel like I’m in a place where I have so many goals, and that feels amazing. One of my fitness-related goals is to simply gain more muscle! With that comes gaining some weight, and I’m in a place where I’m very okay with that to reach my goals. I also have the goal to find more balance, which I struggled with in the past – being able to be more spontaneous and just live life.
Current favorite recipe you’d like to share?
Protein pancakes are one of my current obsessions. Being an athlete, I’m constantly focusing on protein intake, and this recipe is SO easy and delicious (your girl has quite a healthy sweet tooth when it comes to breakfast). I just created these Peanut Butter Chocolate Protein Pancakes on my blog, (click here for the recipe!) which is to die for!
Make sure you check out Nat’s blog, Blonde Gone Clean, for recipes, fitness tips, life advice, and more!