The holidays are the perfect time to support local businesses. While Walmart, Target and Amazon have made one-stop shopping more convenient, there is nothing better than supporting small business owners, helping them achieve their dreams while also getting unique holiday gifts.
Gainesville is a town full of terrific small businesses that specialize in everything from apparel to food to handmade trinkets. Here are some of my favorite local businesses that are perfect places to shop small and get amazing Christmas gifts!
The most romantic day of the year is upon us! Valentine’s Day is here and for me, it’s a day to celebrate LOVE! Not just love for your significant other, but love for all the important people in your life.
I’ve rounded up some of the most romantic things to do in Gainesville on Valentine’s Day, and these aren’t just for couples. Whether you want to do something fun with your significant other, best friends or event your parents, any one of these activities would be super fun!
A couple weeks ago I hosted an Influencer Brunch for some amazing Gainesville bloggers at the Sweetwater Branch Inn, the most beautiful event space in Gainesville. What started out as just an idea a month before turned into one of my favorite things I’ve done this year! It took a lot of planning, tons of emailing and messaging and some serious hustle, but it was so completely worth it!
Exploring a city doesn’t mean having to spend a lot of money! It’s hard to resist some of the fancy restaurants, paid attractions and shopping when you’re visiting new place or even just enjoying a day around your own town.
So, I put myself to the test: see if I could spend an entire day out and about in Gainesville with only $20. After a day of eating, exploring and learning I discovered that it was actually a lot easier than I thought. Here’s everything I did in one day for less than $20.
One of my favorite things to do on a Saturday morning here in Gainesville is visit the Haile Farmer’s Market. The tree-lined streets of the Haile Village Center transform into a bustling market, with local vendors selling everything from flowers and vegetables to prepared food to jewelry.
I used to drive 45 minutes on Saturdays just to pick up my favorite items from the farmer’s market, and now that I live just a few minutes away it means I get to go every weekend!
Y’all, something totally amazing happened. I lost 30 pounds in less than two months. Saying it out loud doesn’t even feel real! In six weeks I was able to make a huge lifestyle change that put me on the path towards living a happier, healthier life, and I’m so excited to share the journey with all of you!
How I Got Started
My weight loss journey really started when I discovered Gainesville Combat Fitness. A part of Mat Life Training Center, which also offers self-defense, Ju Jitsu and MMA fighting, Gainesville Combat Fitness offers high-energy workout classes like kickboxing conditioning, combat fitness and barre kickboxing.
I saw an ad on Facebook for a fitness challenge being offered at Gainesville Combat Fitness, and I thought, “This is exactly what I need.” So I signed up! I’ve never done any sort of martial arts/kickboxing training. I decided to step out of my comfort zone because I knew I needed to do something drastic to get myself motivated to lose weight.
I scheduled my orientation for the fitness challenge, and that’s when I met Carly, the founder of Gainesville Combat Fitness. She instantly made me feel comfortable and supported as she outlined what the six-week challenge would entail. She explained the workouts, meal plan, weigh-ins and accountability system that would help me achieve my goal.
The challenge rules were pretty straightforward. The goals were to lose either 25 pounds or 6% body fat in six weeks. Participants can choose to either sign up for a six-month gym membership or pay a deposit. If they opt for the deposit, and meet the challenge goal, they get their money back. The gym also provided participants with the necessary equipment to participate in the classes (boxing gloves and hand wraps), which they could choose to either return or purchase themselves when the challenge was over.
I decided to do the deposit because I knew if I set my mind to it I could meet the weight loss goal. Then it’s basically six free weeks of workouts! I knew it would be worth the money, and trust me, it was!
I had taken a kickboxing class before YEARS ago, but Gainesville Combat Fitness doesn’t offer cookie-cutter classes set to music where you punch the air or kick a bag. They offer real, high-energy classes that combine cardiovascular workouts with real Muay Tai kickboxing techniques.
I have to admit, on my first day of class I was terrified! I told myself I had one goal: don’t throw up. But I had nothing to worry about. The classes at Gainesville Combat Fitness are adjustable for all fitness levels, and the moves and exercises can be modified to accommodate anyone.
I didn’t know how much I was going to like the classes, but I fell totally in love! I loved the high intensity of the cardio workouts, the feeling of punching and kicking during kickboxing class and how strong I felt after every class. I went five days a week every week for the entire duration of the challenge. I went every morning before work, and it made me feel so energized and ready to take on the rest of the day.
I went at the same time every morning (7 a.m.) and eventually made some awesome friends! I also got to work with Presley, the most awesome instructor ever, and he taught me so much during the challenge. He was always there to answer questions and he made the classes so fun.
When I started the fitness classes I could hardly get through the warmup, a series of agility drills on a workout ladder. By the last day I could do the entire warmup without stopping or modifying any of the drills.
The Meal Plan
When I started the fitness challenge I was also given a meal plan. It was pretty flexible, which was great for allowing different options into my diet and ensuring that I didn’t get bored with the food. We also got a recipe book with lots of yummy meal ideas!
The basic outline of the meal was:
Breakfast – Carbohydrate, Protein and Vegetable
Lunch – Carbohydrate, Protein and Vegetable
Dinner – Protein, Fat and Vegetable
I just could not eat vegetables for breakfast, so I doubled up at dinner to make up for it. We were also encouraged to drink two protein shakes a day. I chose to drink Protein2O, a protein water that tastes way better than a shake and has pretty similar nutrition.
This is what a normal week of meal prep looked like for me: lots of veggies, rice and chicken. For breakfast I usually had Greek yogurt and berries or egg whites and potatoes.
I also allowed myself one or two cheat meals a week. It prevented me from bingeing when I had a craving for something, and helped me remember that it’s ok to have treats in moderation.
One big thing I changed besides my diet was the amount of water I was drinking. I went from drinking two or three bottles a day to drinking at least 100 ounces every day!
Our challenge leader, Natalie, made sure to check in with each of us every week to see how we were doing with the challenge. She always cheered me on with every pound lost and was super motivating!
After six long weeks of training hard in the gym and eating right, I felt better than I had in years. In the first week I dropped 10 pounds like that, my body was in a total shock. Every week the pounds were steadily dropping. Then, the final weigh in day came and the results were in…
I lost 26.4 pounds! That amount in such a short amount of time was HUGE! And it was just the start. I’ve lost 30 pounds since I started the challenge and I’m not stopping there!
I’m so excited to continue working with Gainesville Combat Fitness to promote wellness and a healthy lifestyle. Stay tuned for more posts as I continue on my journey towards my happiest, healthiest self!
Join The Challenge!
Are you looking for a sign that’s it time for you to start living healthier or lose some weight?? Well look no further because this is it! Gainesville Combat Fitness is continuing to offer more fitness challenges. To get more information or schedule a tour and get a free week of classes click here! You’ll be so glad you did!
I’ve been living in Gainesville for nearly two months now and I have just fallen head over heels for my new city! From the beautiful parks to the bustling downtown, Gainesville has a big-city feel with small-town perks.
I moved from Orlando to Lake City in 2016 and that was a HUGE culture shock. Going from a metropolis to a small southern town was a big adjustment. Orlando was just a little too big, and Lake City was just a little too small. Gainesville feels just right!
I’ve gotten to do some exploring since moving to Gainesville and I’ve discovered some places that I absolutely love! So I thought I’d share a few of my favorites with y’all!
Here are four of my favorite spots in Gainesville:
Celebration Pointe is relatively new to Gainesville and I’ve gone there like once a week since I moved here! It’s an outdoor shopping and dining destination with plenty of entertainment. There is a beautiful promenade going right through the center with tons of seating and sometimes there are live musical performances! There are also restaurants (I’m obsessed with Midici Pizza), stores, an amazing movie theatre and my new favorite day spa, Azulene! It’s definitely a great date-night spot or a fun place to go with your friends!
I’d visited Depot Park a few times on my lunch break, but now that I live in Gainesville I get to go a lot more often! It’s a beautiful outdoor park built on an old train depot. There’s a playground, picnic areas, walking paths and more! There’s also a general store selling snacks, drinks and fresh-made meals, a beer and wine garden and a pizza spot! It’s a beautiful place to spend a warm Florida day. I love taking time to get out of the office and eat my lunch there!
If you haven’t been to the Haile Village Center in Haile Plantation, you’re seriously missing out! It has total Stars Hollow vibes (if you don’t know what that is, I’m not sure we can be friends) with it’s tree-lined streets shading adorable small shops and restaurants. Every Saturday they host an amazing farmers market packed with local vendors selling everything from flower to artwork to delicious homemade muffins. I wrote a whole blog post about it a few months ago, which you can read here!
You can’t pass up a night out in downtown Gainesville. There are some amazing restaurants and bars located all along the streets! One of my favorite things to do is to walk around and look at all the amazing murals! There are some seriously stunning ones. Let me know in the comments if you want me to do a whole post on Downtown Gainesville specifically!
When most people think of fall weather, their minds don’t automatically go to Florida. Fall in Florida pretty much means the temperature drops from 90 degrees to 80. But, North Florida is special. Up here, we do get fall leaves, cool breezes and sweater weather. There are plenty of fall events to get you in the mood up here in North Florida, from fairs to festivals. Here are just a few fall events I’m looking forward to this season.
Do you ever have those moments where you’re suddenly hungry, but not quite starving enough for a full meal? Or, feel like a snack but don’t want to shell out $6 for a protein bar from the gas station only to feel hungry an hour later? Same. Luckily, Gainesville has plenty of places where you can grab a small bite on a budget. From sweet treats to cheesy and salty snacks, the options are pretty endless. Here are just five of the best bites in Gainesville under $5.