Get the Recap of My Recent #GiveItAWeek Challenges
I’m proud to say that I’m nearly 25 weeks into my #GiveItAWeek challenge on Instagram — whoa! Time sure flies when you’re talking to strangers, learning Spanish, and raising money for a good cause — right? ;)
My seven-day journeys are still far from over, but I can say that having the support from all of you guys has been HUGE. I’m hoping you all will continue to share the love and advice with me over on IG @brit as I put more personal challenges to the test. I have about six months to go, and there are a LOT of fun adventures coming. But for now, here’s what I’ve been up to for the last few weeks…
WEEK 14: Cake Decorating
I went into this week with some previous decorating experience. I’ve always enjoyed cake, cupcake, and cookie decorating and for the past several years, I have made custom cakes for my kids’ birthdays. That said, I wanted to take my skills to the next level (think buttercream ranunculus, brushstroke icing ensembles, and fondant polka-dot accents). I used a few online tutorials, got my organic mixes and frostings from former B+C employee Sarah Jones (@missjonesbakes), and recruited the help of one of my favorite pastry entrepreneurs Melissa Ben-Ishay (owner of the cult cupcake brand @bakedbymelissa) to brush up on my piping, cake pop, and tie-dying skills. Throughout this delicious adventure, my takeaways were that tools matter and a lot of time is involved, especially if you’re baking AND decorating together at once. But ultimately, I loved the zen-like creative state and ability to share sweets with others throughout this process. Now excuse me while I go on a bit of a frosting detox for the next few weeks!
WEEK 15: Limited Hair Washing
I work out a lot, so I typically wash my hair every other day. That being said, I’ve always heard that limiting your sudsing time is actually better for your locks. So I decided to go seven days without washing — eek! The best part? I exceeded my goal and actually made it through EIGHT DAYS! (How was this possible!? I am still shocked.) Big props to everyone who gave me their best dirty hair tips and dry shampoo recommendations, which I definitely used. Ultimately, I found that by skipping my shampoo, I drastically improved my hair’s volume and saved about 20 minutes a day. Not too shabby of a life hack, eh?
WEEK 16: Intermittent Fasting
This one was a big challenge for me since I love my breakfast! Since I’ve heard there are so many great health benefits of eating intermittently throughout the day, I decided it was at least worth trying to forgo those a.m. pancakes. (Spoiler alert: I found out it really wasn’t for me!) Long story short, my stomach was RUMBLING by 10am. Thank goodness I could even make it that long, thanks to the ability to have coffee. And while I discovered that 14-hour fasts were wayyy easier than 16-hour fasts (and I learned that getting used to the process can take up to two weeks), I think I’m happiest sticking to my usual eating routines with the rest of my family. Pass the syrup, please!
WEEK 17: Meditation
Speaking from complete honesty, I never thought meditation was for me. When I would sit down to relax, I simply couldn’t keep my mind from wandering! I’m definitely a Type A person with schedules and to-do lists taking over my mind at all times. (Hence the reason I NEED meditation, ha.) However, after a week of embarking on this zen-filled experiment, I gained a new opinion of it. The entire experience was like having a best friend give you a pep talk and an abbreviated sermon at church all at once, if that makes sense! I most enjoyed myself during moving meditations, like those jogging meditation exercises found in the Nike Run Club app in partnership with Headspace. The good news is that I learned it’s perfectly fine to let your mind stray, as long as you can reel it at times (which I certainly did!). P.S. If you’re interested in kick-starting your own meditation journey, tune into my favorite apps, Headspace or Calm.
WEEK 18: Talking to Strangers
Yes, this sounds like a challenge your parents would convince you NOT to do. However, as someone who is more of an introvert, I decided to step outside of my comfort zone and talk to a different stranger for a few minutes every day. While the initial days were a bit rough (it was tough to come up with a great icebreaker!!), I finally found my groove and walked away having had amazing conversations with everyone from a cute Starbucks barista to a costume-clad doorman. Bonus: I got to attend an NYC Broadway show with a really awesome Instagram stranger-turned-friend, Colleen. How cool is that?
WEEK 19: Learning Spanish
This was a fun one! I grew up taking Spanish classes but hadn’t practiced in forever, so I wanted to motivate myself to use it every day with the goal of holding an entire convo with someone en español. To me, the trickiest part of Spanish is always the conjugations, but the daily practice of listening, reading, and even writing (to many of YOU in my IG messages!) made it much easier by the end. Pro tip: Converting your phone settings to Spanish forces you to spend hours a day reading it. SUPER HELPFUL to me. By day seven, I held a lengthier discussion with a willing IG fan which really surprised me (in the best way, of course!) ;). I give major credit to Duolingo, which was an immensely helpful tool (along with tuning into some v. entertaining telenovelas on YouTube… everyone should do a search on there for Miramar; it’s quite cheesy in the best way possible!).
WEEK 20: Zero Waste
If we’re being honest, I was mostly inspired by @trashisfortossers — as well as many, many requests by all of you — to do a no waste challenge for a week. So for seven days, I attempted to fit all of my trash into a mason jar. Crazy, huh!? I will say that kids, a hectic travel schedule, and an affinity for La Croix proved to make this harder than I planned for. BUT, I legitimately made some progress and learned new products, tips, and insights about how to live with less emissions. I will forever judge myself for using a plastic straw, and I now have converted all of my plastic water bottles at home to glass, plus swapped out plastic baggies for cloth or paper. Even weeks later, I’m still so conscious of how I can reduce my own waste. I wish everyone would try this challenge for a week! Think of the collective good we could do for this world.
WEEK 21: Making $1,000
For these seven days, I was inspired to raise $1,000 for a cause that’s near (it’s in my hometown) and dear to my heart — @raciestexas. With some crafty thinking, I was able to review websites, write poems, and sell dresses on Instagram to hit my goal (and then some!) of $5,000. By the time the week was over, I walked away with some serious cash for a worthy cause and gained some new rhyming skills in the process. I’d consider that a win-win! The bigger takeaway was learning about all the random ways it’s now possible to make some money on the side. I’ve already seen many women try them out for themselves for added income. Love it!
WEEK 22: Wearing Braids
You guys, I love braids. But because I haven’t yet mastered all of the techniques (there are SO many types of braids these days!), I decided to embark on a week-long mission to sharpen my skillset. With expert tips from online tutorials (Brit + Co has a helpful braid how-to here!), I experimented with milk-maid braids, fish tails, dutch braids, and of course, the ever classic French braid. Weeks later and I’m still rocking a braid every few days, now with WAY more confidence. Here’s to switching up my hair game more!
WEEK 23: Going Vegetarian
Believe it or not, this Texas gal has considered converting to a veggie lifestyle before. So this challenge felt like the perfect time to officially try it! My thoughts? I had a travel-heavy week, which was incredibly frustrating for this challenge. Trying to find nutritious vegetarian meals in airports is near-impossible! You end up eating almonds or terrible salads. During other parts of the week, I leaned on lots of eggs, cheese, rice, and beans to get me through, which didn’t always feel super healthy. I also experienced a rather, um, unwanted side effect of intestinal gas, which I was reassured by all of you was perfectly normal during this new eating phase. (Still SO awkward.) All things said, I gained respect for all vegetarians out there who have to navigate their diets in a meat-heavy world. It isn’t easy, and it’s always uncomfortable being “that girl” asking for the substitutes. Veggie eaters, I feel you! (PS One of our editors captured her own foray into being vegetarian here that’s definitely worth watching!)