This Is What Lifestyle Blogs Were Meant To Be
I fell in love with Jess Zimlich's blog immediately upon discovery.
How could I not? 26 And Not Counting? C'monnn, that's brilliant!
Beyond that amazing name, Jess's online destination is just SO wonderfully indicative of a person who's living according to her own outline, one that suits her and allows her to explore what makes her happy, what makes her feel empowered, what makes her smile.
And she's simply real about it. Not in-your-face, just matter-of-fact. That is an important distinction.
Not only that, but Jess is over in Kansas City making Kansas City cool (and making this Midwesterner miss the Midwest...) AND she takes that nonchalant attitude I talked about and applies it to her trials and triumphs in her fitness and wellness journey.
Jess's is a whole other kind of fitness inspo -- the kind that ACTUALLY motivates you by believing that you can. None of the fakery, all the hard work, the way it's supposed to be done.
To read Jess's life stories is to go on an adventure with her -- she's what lifestyle blogs were invented to be. She makes real life -- not a photoshopped version of it -- beautiful, exciting, and interesting.
So I asked this 28-year-old what it was like to be her and not count. And this is what she told me.
What did you set out to create when you started 26 And Not Counting?
I started blogging on a whim in July of 2013 and it quickly became an escape, of sorts. I didn't have a real vision for where I wanted to go with it, but once I got started, I knew I couldn't stop.
When did you know you were really on to something?
When my mom wasn't the only person reading my blog. ;)
With a full-time job in Corporate America, how do you stay focused on your site?
Honestly, some weeks are better than others. There are a lot of early mornings and weekends dedicated to my blog. I set boundaries when it comes to my full-time job by letting the people I work with know when I’ll be available. If you’re answering emails into the wee hours of the morning, people are going to expect you’re available at all times. When I leave work for the day, I completely check out and that allows me to clear my head, focus on the million other things that make up my life (like my blog) and come back the next day refreshed and ready to take on the day.
You recently did a year-end wrap up post about the larger goals you had for yourself. What are you looking forward to in 2016?
I want 2016 to be a year of growth in all aspects of my life.
I'm looking forward to treating my blog more like a business and making more time to pitch myself to the brands and businesses I want to work with. As for everything else, you'll have to follow along to find out!
What's the most important lesson you've learned so far in your 20s?
Take care of your body, because it's the only one you've got.
I once weighed close to 180 pounds, maybe more, I’ll never know. Losing weight and keeping it off has been one of the biggest hurdles I’ve had to overcome in my 20s.
I wish I could say that losing weight was easy, or that I cut out carbs and the weight melted off like ice cream in the hot summer sun, but it didn’t. I worked my ass off at the gym, literally. I have such an appreciation for my body now and all that it can do. Working out and staying active is essential to my wellbeing and I'm thankful I came to that realization.
Coffee, tea or green juice?
Green juice, all the way. And lots of water. I was cursed with the palate of a 5-year-old and don't have a taste for coffee or tea. You might also be so shocked to know I’ve never eaten a hamburger…or ketchup. And a slew of other things that I’m too embarrassed to admit.
What's your morning routine?
I’m guilty of checking my social media channels and email before rolling out of bed (and it definitely falls in the category of things I’m not proud of/working on).
Once I'm up and out of bed, I make myself a big glass of ice water, pick up around the apartment and do a few stretches to get my blood flowing. If I have a blog post going live that day, I'll put the finishing touches on it and schedule the corresponding social media posts. After that, I make myself presentable to the world (I like to keep my beauty routine pretty low maintenance during the week) and if I'm feeling super productive, I'll start a load of laundry.
I'm also one of those people who wakes up ravished, which means breakfast is a must. Some mornings I'll make myself eggs and others I'll bring Cheerios and a banana to work with me. Once I've got breakfast taken care of, I pack my lunch and I'm out the door.
Reveling in a relationship, single and loving it, or Tindering?
Oh man, Tinder. My girlfriends share all their juicy stories with me!
I've been dating my boyfriend, Pete, for 5 years. He's one of the most hilarious people I've ever met and has a way of making even the most mundane things extraordinarily fun. I feel extremely grateful to have someone in my life who centers me the way he does.
What can you never leave home without?
Some days I'll leave home without my purse, but I'm never without my iPhone. Shocker, I know!
The book I'm currently reading is...
I tend to read in spurts and went on a little binge last month and have since taken a break to focus on the holidays. Next up on my nightstand: You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero. I'm hoping it gives me the boost I need to start 2016 off strong! Also, have any of you read Luckiest Girl Alive? So insanely good. If you have, I want to hear what you thought!