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Wellness Wednesday: Four Years of Blogging Reflection + What I’ve Learned

Sharing my reflections and life lessons I’ve learned about wellness and self love through four years of blogging.

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Oh hi! Got your morning cup of joe? Good! Today I’m writing from the heart about random things including blogging and how my life has changed since I started.

But first, how are you? No really how are you doing? I’m asking because I feel like I have a personal relationship with many of my readers. Even if I can’t see you, we chat on Instagram, tweet each other, or leave comments to one another on Facebook. Believe me, I see all of your sweet social media messages and am beyond grateful for each and every one of you. Really, I am.

be who you are quote on top of a scenic ocean photo

{via Pinterest}

By the way, did you know that last month Ambitious Kitchen turned 4 years old? Yes, FOUR glorious years of writing to you, creating recipes and just being weird. If you’ve been reading AK for a while, you might remember when I created my first real deal chocolate chip cookie recipe (with terrible photos). You also might recall the time I went on vacation and met a cute guy (who now happens to be my boyfriend of two years). Or what about when I moved to Washington D.C. for a job… that was interesting to say the least. After that you came with me on my beloved journey to California, back to Minnesota to work at General Mills, and now finally in Chicago.

As I reflect on the past few years, it’s apparent how much things have changed in both my professional and personal life. Like I’ve said many time before, I never started this job with the intention of it becoming my full-time gig. However as AK grew and as I realized that sharing my passion and talent for making healthy, creative recipes was actually appealing to other people on this planet, the more I wanted to share and create!

And you’ve been here right along with me the entire time. So for that, I thank you. If it was possible, I’d personally bake each and every single one of you a dozen cookies. Instead I’m sharing a little bit of the wisdom that this blog (and my early twenties) have given me. I don’t pretend to know it all, but like always, I do want to be honest here and just have an open conversation with all of you. Kind of like you would with a really great friend.

quote by f. scott fitzgerald

{via Pinterest}

Have an entrepreneurial spirit.

First of all, it’s not like you can be taught how to be an entrepreneur in life. It’s something that you have to experience for yourself. It’s something you have to fail at. And it’s definitely something that you must have passion about. Above all I believe that entrepreneurs are people who have a TRUE and STRONG passion for something or anything. Entrepreneurs try, experience, and then try again and again to act out their ideas. They recognize their passions and build upon them.

When I was first starting my blog, it wasn’t really my passion. My passion was the simple art of creating food. I felt in tune with who I was every time I was in the kitchen. The ability to share it with others seemed like a great way to take what I was passionate about to the next level. But truth be told, I still had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t know how to navigate WordPress, gain readership or design a site.

So, what did I do? I purchased books. I looked to others for advice. I talked about my site with anyone who would listen. But most of all, I stayed true to who I was. Overall, I tried to create nutritious food that was satisfying, creative and delicious.

To keep the blog running and to keep me sane, I’ve had to outsource multiple things such as some of my social media, graphic images, recipe roundups and now, some of my photography. I’m hoping this will allow me to work on more projects that expand AK and my professional ambitions.

Overall I want to keep my entrepreneurial spirit alive by continuing to challenge myself, in whatever regard that may be. I truly do believe that if you have passion, anything is possible.

monique and her dad

Grieve traumatic experiences because they help shape your life.

I’ve talked about this before, but as many of you know, my Dad passed away when I was 18. It was one of the most traumatic experiences in my life for many reasons. I never really had the opportunity to properly grieve; thus during my college years I developed an unhealthy relationship with food including an eating disorder. At the time, it felt like food was the only thing I could control in my life.

It’s interesting that we all know that grief is something we will all experience at some point, but that each person is different in how they cope, especially with an unprepared, shocking loss. Grief is normal, but experiencing that process is necessary to heal and move on.

During the first few years after I graduated, I knew it was time to deal with the things I hadn’t. To give myself permission to grieve, heal and become better both inside and out. I remember there being times when I had created a recipe because it was the only thing that brought me joy. The writing and your comments gave me such happiness during that time in my life.

It’s been 8 years since he passed away and I’m still working on the grieving process, but at least now I don’t run away from it.

monique at the gym

Change your attitude towards exercise and fitness.

It’s funny how different my workouts are now from what they used to be. I used to workout for at least an hour every single day. It was rare that I took days off. At the time I didn’t understand that my body needed time to recover and rest.

After an injury earlier this year, I changed the way I thought about exercise and how I take care of my body. You all were so encouraging when I shared my struggles with my back and neck and I couldn’t have felt more grateful or supported. In fact, many of you wrote to me or left a comment on that particular post, explaining how your injury has changed exercise and fitness for you too!

These days, I’m a member of Classpass {affiliate link}. I love it because there are a variety of workouts that I can choose from so that I give my body the attention it deserves (and a break too!). I’m working out 5 days a week, but that varies depending on my travel schedule. I also love to walk around the city of Chicago and enjoy the beauty that each day brings. It sounds cheesy, but there was a while there where I wasn’t able to do any type of exercise without pain, so I feel very blessed to have a body that I can move.

pizza on a plate

Learn how to have a positive, happy relationship with food.

This one has taken the longest because for me because food can be an addiction. Plain and simple. However, I’ve learned that I turn to food to soothe me when I’m stressed or emotional. My relationship with food has been tumultuous since I was a child for various reasons. I was never an overweight child, but I buried both good and bad emotions in food. Thus, it has been a struggle for as long as I can remember.

To develop a better relationship with food, I had to understand that foods weren’t good or bad. Another important piece was giving myself permission to eat whenever I was hungry and not restricting my eating to certain meal times. Next, I learned how to talk about it with other people – like my mom, then close friends, my boyfriend and eventually you all. I realized I didn’t have to compare myself to other people when it came to food; I am my own unique individual and so are you. Like our personalities, our bodies are also very different: we need, crave and want different things.

Finally, I stopped punishing myself for enjoying food. Oh you know, like a good, melty chocolate chip cookie or a giant slice of deep dish pizza. Eating was no longer all or nothing for me; it was everything in moderation. And while sometimes I do have terrible days (too much nut butter!), I really try to practice eating foods that are enjoyable and good for my body. I allow myself to give into cravings every once in a while. And most of all, I appreciate the nourishment and energy that food provides me.

If you are struggling with your relationship with food, I highly suggest checking out some of my previous Wellness Wednesday posts. Sometimes it’s just nice knowing that someone can relate to how you are feeling.

tony and monique on the riverwalk of chicago

Allow yourself to have the most unbelievable joy and love in your life.

This doesn’t just mean find the love of your life. This means creating a love for yourself and others by practicing the art of self love and taking time to appreciate yourself.

Over the past few years, I’ve learned that loving myself first is of the utmost importance; I began to understand that if I couldn’t love myself, then I wouldn’t be able to love anyone else fully. Surrounding yourself with positive uplifting people is a great way to start.

Next thing I did was figuring out what happiness looks like to you (a never-ending life goal). I can tell you that it won’t be when you’re at a certain weight; you have to work from the inside out to create something fulfilling. Life changes and so does your vision of happiness.

Another thing that’s made my heart incredibly joyful is the act of compassion and kindness. Even small little things bring me joy and somehow make me feel like a better person. A smile on someone’s face often lasts a day or more in my mind.

Last but not least, listen to your soul and your true calling. I’m such an encourager of those who want to follow a passion, even if they aren’t 100% certain it’s what they want to do forever. Exploration and change gives you experience, knowledge and lights up your soul. Not everything in your life has to fit that perfect cookie cutter society mold, and that is absolutely okay.

ocean view in Byron Bay, Australia

Travel often.

Travel is good for our spirits. It helps us discover the world we live in, other cultures and ways of life. Travel is not only good for the world, but it’s a great individualized way to grow as a human being.

Each and every time I travel, I’m taken back by the beauty of this world, but it’s also helped me in so many more ways. Traveling has taught me self-confidence. To believe that I can do anything when I’m in a place that’s completely unknown to me; it’s taught me an independence that I wouldn’t have known otherwise. Traveling made me appreciate my family and friends on a deeper level but also gave me the experiences that led me to start something like this blog.

Even if you can’t travel all the time, I recommend booking a weekend trip every once in a while to a place you’ve never been before.

side-by-side photos of monique

Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable.

When I first started this blog, I was struggling on the inside with issues related to grief and weight gain. You wouldn’t have known it because I never wrote about it or got very personal during my recipe posts. Then I realized that all the articles I actually took the time to open and read were ones that struck a chord with me. I admired other brave writers who shared their personal experiences and shed light on issues that seemed hush, hush.

I stopped caring what other people thought of me a long time ago because frankly, this is my life. This blog is such a huge part of who I’ve become as a person. Being vulnerable and myself has enabled me to have a better connection with all of you. To share stories, be weird and laugh!

So thank you guys for being here. For following me on social media, supporting my recipes, and for just being you. It’s been an incredible four years. 


If you aren’t following me on social here are my links:

BlogLovin’ | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter 

You can also add me on Snapchat: ambitiouskitch

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