The Beach - a Snarkitecture art installation on Navy Pier in Chicago. A giant indoor ocean made from white ball pit balls.

I’m always good at Januaries.

I’m always good at Januaries. I’ll make all my resolutions on the first of the month and then hit the ground running towards my goals.

Of course, that momentum usually fizzles come February…

This year I made four big New Year’s resolutions — lose 40 pounds, get 25,000 monthly sessions on my blog, take more time to relax and have fun, and travel. And I think I’m doing well. Making progress.

I lost six pounds in January. All month long I cut back on sugar. I drank way more water. I went to the gym about 3 times a week.

I wasn’t trying to make massive changes, I was just trying to incorporate small, manageable, adjustments to my lifestyle.

I mean, I still went out on my birthday and ate and drank everything all weekend. I still had a couple of Cokes here and there when I really wanted one. I didn’t force myself go to the gym when it was -20 degrees outside.

And I still lost six pounds.

6 pounds is a good amount of weight to lose in a month. It’s a healthy amount of weight to have lost in a month. And 6 pounds actually crushes my goal to lose half a pound to a pound per week.

But, despite my progress, there’s still a little voice in the back of my head that keeps saying, “you did all that and you only lost 6 pounds?” It’s the same voice that pops into my head whenever I finish a workout, sweating and out of breath, and the machine says I “only burned 200 calories.” It’s the same voice that says, “you should be giving up all sugar and only eating salads and going to the gym 7 days a week if you want to lose more than that.”

I think it’s that voice that makes Februaries hard. That makes people abandon their resolutions by month two. That feeling like you’re doing so much already and haven’t already magically reached all your goals. That feeling like you’ll never be able to do enough so you might as well do nothing.

But I made small changes that have helped me on my way. Small, hopefully maintainable, changes. And I’m starting to make progress towards my goals. And that’s what matters. So I need to ignore that voice that keeps saying that I’m not doing enough, that I need to do more, that I will never reach my goal at this rate. Because I am doing enough, because I am doing something. And I need to push through, keep on going, and get beyond just January.

I made progress on my other goals too. I’ve been working on my blog, creating more content both here and on social media. And I’ve definitely been stepping back a little and taking more time for myself, to both relax and have fun. And travel…well…that’s to come.

Here are some of the things I got up to in January. How was your month?

My year started with, well, a hangover and doughnuts. Which, I know, kind of goes against that whole, “lose weight,” resolution. But it did count towards my “take time to relax and have fun one” so, whatever. We had plans to take a full-on doughnut crawl but most of the places we wanted to go to were closed for the holiday and after my first blueberry old fashioned at Stan’s I was kind of sugared out and needed to feed my hangover some salt. So I went with a fried chicken sandwich from our second stop, Do-Rite, instead of grabbing another doughnut.

Perfect roast chicken.

I made the perfect roast chicken. It was perfect.

My apartment a year after KonMari. My sock drawer.

I binge-watched Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix and, since I already tidied, ordered pretty much the entire container store to solve some of my still-troublesome spots (I now have places to put potatoes and used rags). Read more on a year of KonMari here.

My birthday party at Chicago Magic Lounge.

I celebrated my 38th birthday with literal magic. And drag queens. And fried chicken. And fancy cocktails. Read more about my birthday here.

I spend a freezing day in Chicago at The Beach — an art installation at Navy Pier that was basically a giant ocean-themed ball pit.

My cats snuggling in bed.

And, of course, I spent a whole lot of time snuggling with my cats (and celebrating their one-year adoption anniversary).

How was your January?

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Hi, I'm Val. I spent most of my 20s in a standstill, unable to pick which path in life I wanted to take. I wanted the nomadic life of a traveler but also wanted the husband, the condo, and the kitten. Unable to decide which life I wanted more, I did nothing. When I turned 30 I’d had enough of putting my life on hold and decided to start “choosing my figs.” So, I quit my job, bought a one-way ticket to Europe, and traveled for three years. Now I'm back in Chicago, decorating my apartment in all the teal, petting my cats, and planning my next adventure.

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