Operation Fit and Fine 2015 Secrets Revealed!! Part 2

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Happy Thursday!!

Last week I talked about my workout regimen and fitness routines.  And while I didn’t win the fitness challenge at work (bummer :( ), I DID however, lose 13.5 lbs! So that’s still a win!

This week I’m going to talk about the dreaded, the abominable, the bane-to-fitness existence, the seemingly incomparable obstacle that we ALL love……

FOOD.

If you know anything about me you know I’m not an emotional eater.  But there are few things closer to my heart than a good bowl of Pad Thai or some Pineapple Fried Rice (insert praise dance here). And food in and of itself is not bad–obviously we need it to survive.  However, food has been bamboozling folks since Adam bit the apple, and it’s been all down-hill ever since.

But don’t be discouraged.  There’s hope!

Just like any other substance, food can be a habit.  And those habits create lifestyle patterns, and if it’s a bad habit, those patterns create rolls.

Of fat I mean.

But I’m here to tell you it can be conquered.  And if I can do it, you most definitely can too.

Once again, I am not a dietitian, fitness expert, or nutritionist.  I’m simply sharing what has worked for me. :)

So here it goes.

I didn’t eat a lot.  I probably should have been eating more.  But what I did realize is that it often wasn’t so much what I was eating as it was the amount and time I was eating.  So based off of my beginning lifestyle and end results, I determined there were 3 things that affected my weight loss:

1.  THE TYPE OF FOOD I ATE.

Unhealthy foods. I think this often goes without saying, but just to reiterate, you cannot prosper fit-wise on a carb-filled diet if you are trying to lose weight.  If you are a marathon runner, a body-builder, or a sumo-wrestler, then yes, this is for you.  But items like pasta (my personal favorite), rice, and potatoes must be extremely limited if not cut from your diet.  Before my weight-loss journey I ate them at limited times; but, when I did eat them it was combined with a number of other “unhealthy” options, like cheese (another personal favorite! #HELP lol), which enhanced the probability of weight gain despite the number of times I ate them.

2.  THE TIME OF DAY I ATE THAT TYPE OF FOOD.

Boundaries.  They are important in all areas of life, and meals are not an exception.  I realized that if you have to eat late at night because you’re in school, work long hours, or are even coming from the gym, you need to eat things that are low-carb and nutrient rich.  Fruits and vegetables are a good choice.  Even brown rice, a considerably healthy alternative to white, is a heavy option that should not be eaten late into the evening.  These foods will reside in your abdomen long after you’ve gone to sleep, and not only will you feel icky in the morning, your mirror will testify to your meal choice as well.

3. THE AMOUNT OF WRONG TYPES OF FOOD I ATE AT THE WRONG TIME OF DAY. 

Portion size.  If I could sum up my weight loss in two words besides THE GYM, it would be portion size.  I can almost guarantee you that if you kept the SAME diet you have right now, and changed your portion sizes to be a quarter smaller, you would already see some changes in your body.  Many people want to jump straight into eating carrots and celery sticks, but effective weight loss is a gradual life change.  Start with eating smaller amounts of the food you already eat.  Eating a Quarter-Pounder every day for lunch with a large soda?  Try eating half of the sandwich and drinking a quarter of the soda, and you will see some changes.  Here in America we always want bigger, bigger, bigger.  Everything around us encourages a gluttonous lifestyle and we have to personally take the reigns on how much we allow ourselves to indulge in.  Out a restaurant and you are served a large serving of Pad Thai?  Immediately ask for a to-go box and pack up half;  now you have lunch for the next day and have killed to birds with one stone.  These practices get our self-control muscle working, so that when you finally make the deep-dive into eating a salad for lunch, and brown rice and beans for dinner, you neighbor’s pizza will be a little less appealing.

In a nutshell, that’s pretty much it.  I started with limiting my portion sizes, and eventually changed my diet altogether, eating salads for lunch and brown rice and beans with a vegetable option for dinner.  I am also vegetarian, so if you normally eat meat, your meal plan might look a little different.  But eating healthy on either side doesn’t have to be boring or limiting.  I am starting a Pinterest board on Healthy Eats featuring healthy meal choices and ideas.  Go follow Urbanbeauty for ideas!

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Finally, it is important to recognize that there will be times you fall off the wagon.  And that is fine. No one gets it right the first time.  I’ve been working out consistently since the beginning of College, and I’m just now understanding my body.  But it’s never too late to start.  And from time to time when I relapse I will do a juice fast, especially if I have had unhealthy weekend, or a Thai food rebound (did I mention I love Thai food? :D ).

Conquering our food habits is one of the hardest things to do.  I worked at Jack in the Box for two years in high school, and I can tell you that next to money, there are few things that people take more seriously.  But just like everything else, it can be tamed with self-discipline.  Remember, what you eat is 80% of the battle…working out is only about 20%! Challenge yourself this year and bring a friend with you!  Here’s to being better, healthier people in 2015!

-AB

P.S.  Thank you all so much for the love and support!  The emails, texts and comments motivate me even more!  Let me know if you have a question regarding a topic I haven’t touched or would like my input on something you are struggling with! Much love and success on your journey! :D

Into the August Red is a lifestyle and fashion blog by AB. Copyright 2014.  All Rights Reserved.

Operation Fit and Fine 2015 Secrets Revealed!! Part 1

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2015 has been an adventure so far….and it’s just now March!  I have been sooo busy, but I have FINALLY squared away a few minutes to write down a few snippets of what I’ve been up to. *Insert deep breath here* :D

It has taken me a while to get used to it, but apparently I look a little different physically than I used to.  And quite a few people want to know what I’ve been doing to achieve such drastic changes.  So for all my fitness-gurus-to-be, here is the “skinny”!!

Before I disclose this top-secret info, however, a few disclaimers:

1. I am not a certified health professional in any way.  I have found something that works for me and stuck to it, with the advice of a few health professionals and personal trainer.

IMG_1974[1]2. I cannot guarantee the SAME results for everyone.  Every individual’s body is different, as should be their fitness plan.

3.  This post will cover my general workout routines.  I will give more details on my food consumption next week. ;D

My fitness journey has been an ongoing one for quite some time.  I honestly have been working out consistently and intentionally since my freshman year in college.  So while I may have been heart healthy and maintained a level of fitness above average (which is very important BTW), I wasn’t getting the outward physical results that I wanted.

I realized more recently that this was not only because of the way I was working out, but because my body had to surpass a certain weight plateau in order to get over the “rut” it had been in.  I had to work much harder than most in order to jump-start my weight loss.  It also had a good deal to do with my diet as well.  But we’ll talk about that next week.

Since June 2014 I have lost a little more than 40 lbs.

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To be completely honest, the loss of the first 7-10 lbs was the result of emotional stress.  It was a really difficult time for me, and I’m the exact opposite of an emotional eater.

But guess what?? My ability to progress through that situation came from my decision to make something FANTASTIC out of something negative.  And then came the other 30!

So after the first 10 lbs, I began slowly working my old habit of walking/running 3 miles, 3 times a week back into my repertoire.

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IMG_9014I didn’t have a gym membership at the time, so I chose to take advantage of the warm Cali evenings as my arena.  This implementation, along with the changes in my diet, got the ball rolling.

The biggest milestone came in October when I decided to join a challenge recommended to me by a friend, called 30 Runs in 30 days.  Every day for 30 days I ran or walked 2 miles and posted the proof of the workout using Nike Plus on a Facebook group before midnight.

Since I don’t like to fail, this challenge gave me just the boost of accountability that I needed.  I finished successfully, and there went another 10+ lbs.

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In November, I joined a Squat challenge.  By the end of the month I was doing 100 squats and 100 crunches every day.  This challenge helped build my endurance, and squats honestly are one of the best all-around exercises that you can do.  After that month I realized my legs were much stronger, and I could run much faster for a longer period of time.

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By December, I had incorporated running at least 3 times a week with approx 100 squats every day.  I gradually increased the number of exercises I did to where I was doing something every day.  More importantly, I was not only doing cardio, but including quite a few calisthenic (bodyweight only) exercises in my routines (i.e. push-ups, Russian twists, jumping jacks, mountain climbers, and PLANKS).

In January I joined Fitness 19.  The weather had become cold and slightly rainy, and I didn’t want to have ANY excuses for not working out.

One of the introductory perks I requested was a few sessions with a personal trainer.  This was very educational, eye-opening, and embarrassing (LOL)–but absolutely necessary!  It showed me IMG_1627that although I had been working out for a while, I could still do a few simple exercises in 30 minutes and be completely WINDED.  It showed me the areas I needed to improve on, and the areas I needed to lose weight.  I ABSOLUTELY recommend it for everyone, at least initially, to get an idea of where you are on your fitness journey.

Last month (February), I did a second round of the 30 Runs in 30 Days Challenge.  Tomorrow is the last day, and me and my calves are soooo excited!  On the 15th of this month is also the end of a Weight Loss Challenge I am involved in at work.  Hopefully I am on the winning side of that, because the prize is $300+!!! I’ll keep you all posted :D

And in a nutshell, that’s it.  Looking back, it seems like such a short summation of what was really a long journey.  But one of my favorite sayings is “poco a poco se va lejos”–little by little one goes far.  My journey, while including a few milestones, was for the majority a summation of small DAILY choices.  If that meant taking my 10 minute break at work in the bathroom to do 50 squats to get my hundred in for the day, then that’s what it meant.  I am a firm believer that you can do IMG_1724ANYTHING you put your mind to–but you have to put your mind to it, and it has to be important enough for you to do WHATEVER it takes to get it done.

One of the most important things I learned during the 30 Runs in 30 Days Challenge is that YOU MUST MAKE TIME to do things that are important to you–because when it’s 11 PM, and you have to run two miles before midnight, your character is tested!! You can give up, (because that is definitely the easiest thing to do), or you can get out there and BEAST IT and run two miles in 26 minutes, and feel FANTASTIC about yourself. The patterns of our lives are really shaped by our daily decisions, all part of the gift we call free choice.

It is important, however, to know who you are and where you are in your journey.  30 Runs in 30 Days may not be something that you can do physically.  But the first step is CHANGING YOUR MINDSET.  Secondly, incorporate something in your life that you can do every day.  Start with small goals that you can successfully achieve and build on those goals incrementally. Find a partner who is also motivated who can help you maintain accountability.  Join a class, support group, or challenge if you like to do things in large groups. Find something that works for you and run with it! Literally.

IMG_1913Many of you asked me if I feel different. Eh….maybe.  At the end of the day I still feel like the same me.  But I do have an additional boost of confidence that comes with being healthy and knowing that if I want to run a 5K on the fly I can do it at any time.  And the compliments aren’t unmanageable either. ;)  But we’ll talk more about that next time. :D

I hope this has been an inspiration to you all.  Don’t ever be discouraged about where you are because that is YOUR personal journey.  It is never too late to start and every day is an opportunity to do better. Please feel free to comment with any particular questions or comments you have!  I would love to hear from you.  I appreciate all of your love and support.  Every time someone shoots a positive comment my way I am even more inspired; so thank you for that! I look forward to hearing about your journeys as well!  Here’s to being better, happier, healthier people in 2015!

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-AB

30 Runs in 30 DAYS…Yes, 30!!

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In October 2014 I joined a workout/exercise challenge group on FB.  The challenge was to run/walk 2 miles every day for 30 days.  It was probably one of the best fitness decisions I’ve ever made. Not just because the results were great but because it showed me that you can do anything if you put your mind to it.

So I’m at it again.  Today is the first day of the New Year and Day 1 of my 30 runs in 30 Days Challenge x2.  I’ve dragged my friends and family members into it as well.  Please join us!! Let me know how you’re doing!  I’m going to post relatively often to keep you motivated. If you want even more updates, follow me on instagram @urbahnbeauty.  Here’s to a happier, healthier 2015!!

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-AB

14 Things I Learned in 2014

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2014.  10872944_10202435442482000_4495132292543056277_oWhat a year.

I’ve learned soooo much.  About myself, about other people, about God.

I realized today that I haven’t written a blogpost since late March of this year.  Quite a lot has happened since then, and my life is very different than it was at that time. I’ve grown a year older,  30 lbs lighter (INSERT CARTWHEEL HERE!), am in school, working full-time, establishing a business, and a multitude of other things one day I’ll share with you all.  I’m strongly considering writing a book. Stay tuned. :)

That being said, I want to share with you 14 of the most important things I learned in 2014.  I hope they are as educational and eye-opening for you as they were for me.

1. Every day is a new day to be better, make better choices, and love others more intentionally.  Start with one day at a time, and pretty soon those days will turn into months, those months into years, and those years will be your life.

2. To thine own self be true….Shakespeare said it long ago and it still holds true.  And if that self is a wretched mess, then that is OK!  (As long as you are actively working on being better!) But only in being yourself and allowing others to see you as yourself can you CHANGE that self if it’s not who you want to be.  Knowing who you are allows others to love you fully while holding you accountable to be better, and allowing you in turn to be more completely satisfied in your relationships with others.

3. Fear is a one-way street to regret. Period.

4. God is the only One who can complete you.  If you look for that anywhere else you will be sorely disappointed.

5. Don’t take anything for granted.  Your greatest treasures will easily become memories if you forget their value.

6. Don’t let hurt change who you are.  You may be deeply hurt by someone or something.  But the essence of overcoming is in not letting it change who you are–especially if who you are is great.  Only become wiser, more patient, more loving, more accepting.

7. Loving deeply is not a character flaw.  Definitely something I had to come to terms with!

8. Surround yourself with people who will make you better.  Surround yourself with people who will challenge you and confront you in love when you may be wrong. These are those who truly care for and respect you. You are, or will become the people you surround yourself with.  Therefore, spending great lengths of time with someone whose actions you don’t want to become your own is not advisable–unless you and Jesus are BFFs.  Like, FOR REAL.  And even Jesus spent a good deal of His time in prayer.

9. Supportive friends and family are ESSENTIAL to psychological well-being.  You may not be able to change your family, but you can change you.  You also have control over who your closest associates are.  Surround yourself with people who actively show you and tell you that they care.  All others who are not truly about it will eventually drift away.

10. Make time for the people first, and then the things that are important to you.  No matter what happens in this world, the most valuable asset you will ever have is your time, and in giving it to those who matter to you you are actively saying “here’s a piece of me that I will never get back…but I care enough to give it to you.”

11. Your Mindset Shapes Your Life.  Your mindset will determine your perspective; your perspective will determine how you deal with every situation, and how you deal with every situation will determine your life’s trajectory.

12. There is NOTHING in this world that God cannot restore.  He can repair any situation, any broken heart, any familial disparity, and can heal any illness.  It is only a matter of His time and His method.  His ways are not our ways but He cares for us deeper than can be fathomed by human perception.

13. I am beautiful.  I am worth it.  I am talented.  I deserve good things and to be treated well.  Anyone or anything that is not a promoter or supporter of the aforementioned does not have my best interest at heart and does not truly love or care about me.  This was the hardest thing to learn.  But in the end it was the most gratifying/freeing concept.  The best feeling in the world is being able to look around a room at people (or even just a few persons) and know that those people truly care.  Not just when it’s fun, or when you’re easy to be around, but through everything.  FIND THESE PEOPLE!! Everyone deserves love and acceptance, not just because it’s the thing to do, but because we are all sons and daughters of God.

14. God is love.  He always has our best interest at heart.  Honestly this was a struggle for me this year.  But I have come to realize that even in enduring trials it is a selfish thought to think that every trial or even blessing is just for my own benefit.  It may also be for the benefit of those around me as well.  In the end, trusting God through everything evokes a peace that nothing can take away, and that is what I choose to carry with me in the new year.

#Progress2014 was the hashtag for this year.  And despite a few setbacks here and there I truly did progress this year.  I am looking forward to all of the great things the new year will offer!

May we all be more intentional, better friends, and just better people overall in 2015.  Much love to you all and be safe!

-AB

P.S.  Stay tuned for the new year hashtag release via Instagram at midnight! :D

Feel free to share with me what you learned in 2014 in the comment section below!! And stay tuned for a great year ahead with Into The August Red. :D

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The Three C’s and Other Fashion Anecdotes

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ENTJ.  According to the Myers Brigg test, that’s my personality.

I often think I’m an INTJ as well, but hey, who’s keeping track?

The point is, I like to plan.  And the extent of my planning trickles all the way down to my shopping.  When I make fashion and clothing decisions, whether I’m in the mall or in front of my sewing machine, I typically abide by a specifically planned baseline.

The Three C’s. (For My Ladies!!)

1.  CUTE/ATTRACTIVE.  First and foremost, the garment must be cute!!  I am a fan of high and abstract fashion, but some of the things I have seen in my lifetime are just–plain and simple–hideous.  I have also found that sometimes we may think something is cute and attractive but the rest of the world thinks it is horrific.  Just because it looks good on the mannequin does not mean it may fit your style. However, I am not suggesting you should completely abandon your personal style by any means.  I AM, however, suggesting that if you are not immediately wowed by it or are not sure of its fashion efficacy, ask the opinion of your most fashionable friend.  I do it all the time! :D

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2. COMFORTABLE.  For me, this is an absolute MUST!!!!!  I love high fashion, and the stilettos, and the colors, and the bindings, and the finished product, but the real truth is, I’m most likely not going to wear that.  I may design it for someone else, but that is not my life.  (Some of you may disagree! :D ).  It is important for me to feel comfortable in whatever I’m wearing, because it will add confidence to the outfit, and will be visible by others.  We have all seen that particular instance where a young lady is struggling to wear heels that are too tall or feeling subconscious in a dress that was just not meant for her.  Be comfortable in what you wear!  If you can’t rock it comfortably, others will definitely be able to tell.

3.  CLASSY.  This is last, but most certainly not the least.  Class is an art, and something that is often developed over time in relation to fashion.  I often attach it to the familiar statement, “Less is more.” Especially if you are of the curvier persuasion, ladies,  this is article-2360040-1AC282DD000005DC-431_634x813instrumental.  It helps me to think of it this way:  If you choose a lower-cut top, pair it with a longer skirt or pants.  If the skirt or pants will be short, pair it with a higher-cut top.  There are several other fashion anecdotes that may be referenced but I primarily utilize that one.  I think class is also defined by a particular type of clothing, and does not mean it has to be expensive.  The definition of classy is stylish AND sophisticated, a look I think can be achieved whether you thrift your clothing, or shop at Neiman Marcus.

 

The most important thing is to know yourself, know your correct

body shapessizing, and know what looks best on your body type/figure.  It took me a while to find a style that fit me best, but once I learned what I was most comfortable wearing, I was able to build my wardrobe based on that knowledge.  Remember to remain true to yourself and your personal style in choosing clothing, and love the skin you’re in!!  Happy Monday, everyone!

Want to see some examples of my personal style and preferences?  Click HERE!!! How do you choose your own personal style?  What draws you to an outfit?  Leave a comment and let me know!! :D

-AB

 

Into the August Red is a fashion and lifestyle blog by A. Brown.  Copyright 2014.  All Rights Reserved.

The Importance of Having a Partner: Turnup Tuesday Motivation

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Everyone needs a friend.

Personally, I think this #nonewfriends concept is ridiculous.  So you never want to meet anyone new, or expand your realms of thought or worldviews, ever again?? #nonsense.

Friends are essential.  This is especially true in the world of fitness. Knowing and engaging with someone who is like-minded in terms of exercise and fitness goals is EXTREMELY helpful.  (In case you didn’t read it entirely the first time,  knowing and engaging with someone who is like-minded in terms of exercise and fitness goals is EXTREMELY helpful!!)  I have never met anyone who consistently experiences 100%-motivated, 100%-always-beasting-in-the-gym workouts.  This is where a friend, personal trainer/exercise partner comes in handy.

I’m not talking about the friend that goes with you to the gym and watches you workout.  I’m talking about the participator.  The motivator.  The encouraging friend.

So here are a few tips I’ve found helpful in the past to weed through your crowd of friends to that one golden individual who will push you to higher planes of fitness extravaganza!!

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1.  This friend must have goals.  Just like any other area of life, vision is so important.  If you don’t have a goal/plan, you will be wandering around aimlessly in the fitness world.  If you’ve ever been to a gym, you may have seen some individuals who wander from machine to machine, never spending too long in one place.  It is important to choose an attainable goal and stick to it.

2.  This friend must be dedicated.  Follow-through is essential for all individuals involved.  On a scale of one to ten I think a 6 is a good start.

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3.  In order to be workout partners you must have some common-ground interests.  If your workout partner is a significant other and the opposite sex, you may not want to work out the same way.  However, cardio is always a good compromise.  My boyfriend and I may not do the same exercises in the gym, but we can meet on the track for a run before we go our separate ways.  And some days when I’m feeling extra beastly, I’ll join him for some of his exercises.  That way we can motivate each other while spending time together.

4.  No man/woman should be left behind.  If you choose to workout together, workout together.  If you are a cross-country star and your friend is not, don’t leave your friend behind.  Like a good trainer, you are there to push them to greater heights.  If you leave them behind, they may never have the opportunity to do better.  Before I started running a great deal, I was often far behind when running with friends.  But when one dedicated friend decided to stay back with me and push me, I found I began to run faster because of that simple element of motivation.  Friends don’t let friends workout alone!

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5.  Hold each other accountable.  If you’re workout partners, and your friend is eating at McDonald’s everyday, kindly address the issue.  If you’re eating at McDonald’s everyday after a workout, don’t be defensive if your friend checks you.  The purpose of working out together is for companionship and to push each other.  If your friend truly has your best interest in mind they will hold you accountable.  Not just with your diet but when you slack on exercising as well.  However, don’t be a nagging friend.  If you are, I can probably guarantee that your workout partnership will not last long.

Well folks, there you have it.  Just a few tips I find helpful in attaining/keeping a workout partner.  It’s very important!! And summer is coming soon!! Get out there and workout today!  Happy Tuesday!! :D

-AB

Into the August Red is a fashion and lifestyle blog by A. Brown. Copyright 2014.  All Rights Reserved.

All images used courtesy of Google Images.

Pay To Cheat: Turnup Tuesday Motivation

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First of all, it’s not what you think. (LOL!)

This year, my boyfriend and I have been concentrating a lot more on our health, and ways to improve our fitness.  Being that we’re still young, but getting older, it is becoming more increasingly evident how hard it can be to get out of bed in the morning if you’re not living a healthy lifestyle.   But we all know that in the society we live in, pursuing a healthy life is not always easy.  So we’d love to share some tips with you–one in particular that has helped limit our cheat-meal consumption.

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We began by incorporating small things into our everyday routines, like eating fruits and vegetables instead of chips and other higher-calorie snacks.  Downloading Nike+ Running was a great motivator (Refer to my previous post on the app here).  It allowed us to get active while interacting and motivating our friends as well.  We often go hiking at Runyon Canyon in LA as well, and getting outdoors with friends makes the workout more enjoyable.

These are all great ways to reinforce the work; but the hard part is choosing what and when to eat.  We all like cheat meals, and honestly they are just as much a part of fitness as workouts.  We need them every now and then to stay sane, and rewarding ourselves for achieving goals can motivate us to do more.  It is important, however, to keep our reward parties in check to avoid being counterproductive.

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So David, (my BF), came up with the “Pay to Cheat” plan.  Under this plan, you earn $1 for every workout you do.  These dollars go into your imaginary “Cheat Meal Bank.”  You are then allowed to purchase a cheat meal according to the amount of money you have in your account.  This plan still calls for some self-discipline, because one could easily say “I want an order of fries from the $1 menu at McDonalds after every workout.”  This would obviously be detrimental to the workout.  But the plan in theory is to help you keep track of your workouts and eating.  In addition, the plan also helps curb your spending habits, and benefits your finances.  Coupled with healthy food choices, it really can be a great way to monitor your workouts, eating, and finances.

While this may not be the only method for regulating your not-so-healthy food consumption, it is something that we’re finding helpful towards advocating a health-conscious lifestyle.  I hope it helps you as well!  Have a wonderful cheat day! ;D

-AB

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Into the August Red is a fashion and lifestyle blog written by A. Brown.  Copyright 2014.  All Rights Reserved.

My #WCW: Lupita Amondi Nyong’o

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Grace, style, elegance, beauty, intelligence, humility, and excellence.

I don’t know her personally, but this woman has captured the world by storm for her incredible qualities–not only as an actress, but as a human being.

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On March 2nd, 2014, Lupita Amondi Nyong’o became the first Mexican-Kenyan to win an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role in “12 Years A Slave.”  She is also listed as the 5th black woman to win an Oscar, exactly 75 years after Hattie McDaniel won the first Oscar given to a woman of color for her role in “Gone With The Wind.”

Lupita-Nyong’o

Lupita Nyong’o was born in Mexico with parents of Kenyan decent.  She returned to Kenya with her family when she was less than one year old, and journeyed back to Mexico to learn Spanish when she was 16.  She landed the role of Patsey in “12 Years A Slave” immediately before graduating from Yale with an MFA degree.

I really admire Lupita not only because of her achievements, but also for some of the similar life characteristics that we share.  She too is a child from a household of six children, and grew up in an artistic family with a love for fashion and the arts.  She is also an example to the world that no matter what you look like on the outside, you can be an icon of beauty and intelligence from the inside.

lupita-nyongo-gettyOften times we may feel boggled down by the pressures of the society we live in.  Wheter it be economical, racial, communal, societal, or spiritual, we all experience struggle.  Yet, every now and then we have the opportunity to experience success, if not our own, through the lives of others.  It is encouraging to know that the journey is not for naught, and that hard work and perseverance do eventually pay off.  While watching the recap of the Oscars, I shed a small tear watching just how thankful Lupita was to see the products of her hard work come to fruition.  Her moving acceptance speech reminded me, and all of us, that no matter where we’re from or who we are that “our dreams are valid.”  Hopefully you were as impressed as I was.  Go out and be the change you want to see in the world.  Happy Wednesday.

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Watch Lupita’s entire acceptance speech below.

Lupita Nyong’o has won 19 awards for the category of Best Actress in a Supporting Role alone, including her Oscar from the Academy Awards.

-AB

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The Top 20 Funniest Workout (FAIL) Memes of All Time: Turnup Tuesday Motivation

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Sunday is over.

Monday has passed.

It’s Tuesday, and if you haven’t gotten a workout in, there’s still time! But in case you need a little pick-me-up, I’ve included my Top 20 Funniest Workout (FAIL) Memes of All Time.  If you’ve ever done a workout you can identify with or have seen someone who fits at least one of these characteristics.  Enjoy, and have a great  Tuesday!!  :D

Workout Fail #1: I Left My Equipment at Home.

I’ve done this so many times.  Don’t let it discourage you.  If you live close enough, use this as an opportunity to leave your car in the parking lot and get a run in!  If you don’t, well, hopefully your gym has its own music.

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Workout Fail #2:  Driving To the Gym When You Can Walk.

If you can walk to the gym, walk!! Include it as part of your workout and your body will thank you when you see the progress.

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Workout Fail #3:  I’m Going To the Gym To Pick Up Guys In Full Make-Up and the Sexiest Gym Outfit I could Find at Victoria’s Secret and Don’t Expect To Get Hit On Either.

NEWSFLASH: A LOT of them are already in relationships or married.  And your pores need fresh air! Lol.

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Workout Fail #4: Believing the Myth That All Workouts Will Be Enjoyable.

Pain is weakness leaving the body.  Period. My #Crossfit junkies know what I’m talking about.

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Workout Fail #5: Lying About Gym Progress. 

Just do you. Whatever that means.  Your body is eventually going to tell the truth, and your honesty may encourage someone else who is struggling.

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Workout Fail #6:  Throwing Your Friends Out of Buildings For Mentioning Exercise.  

Be encouraging, not discouraging.

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Workout Fail #7:  Interrupting Serious/Focused Individuals In the Gym.  

If you’re there to socialize, find someone else who is so you can #workoutfail together.

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Workout Fail #8:  Being Thou Unequally Yoked In The Gym.

If you want a fit partner, get in the gym and get fit too.

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Workout Fail #9:  Looking Incredibly Dorky During Workouts.

Mirror checks help.

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Workout Fail #10:  Being Unable to Walk After Leg Day.

#EpsomSalt.  Get some.  You will be sore.

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Workout Fail #11:  Posting Every and All Workouts To Social Media At All Times of the Day and Night and Weekends and Holidays.

Praise for a workout here and there increases motivation, and is recommended.  However, every workout does not need recognition.  The best testimonial is that look of surprise you see on your friend’s face when you put on your favorite outfit and they realize on their own that you’ve been working out.  Then the bragging (if you chose to do that) will be that much sweeter.  In the meantime, #YouWillStillBeSore.

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Workout Fail #12:  So Sore You Can’t Perform Any Other Necessary Daily Tasks.

Don’t Overdo it.  #ItWontMatterIfYoureDead

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Workout Fail #13:  Skipping Leg Day.

Don’t let it happen.  Be a good friend and let someone know.

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Workout Fail #14:  Missing a Workout.

Just kidding.  Missing one workout does NOT equal failure.  Missing four or five does…

Ok just kidding again.  But keep working out!

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Workout Fail #15:  The “I-Don’t-Workout-But-I’m-Judging-You-Not-Even-A-Trainer-Gym-Judgementalist-Mentality.”

Don’t do it.  Everyone’s body, AND workout will be different.

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Workout Fail #16:  Improper  Use of Machinery.

Not only does it impede the progress of others, but you can also hurt yourself.  Don’t know what you’re doing?  Get a personal trainer, or watch the most beastly fitness guru at the gym and copy everything they do.

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Workout Fail #17:  Working Out Makes You Angry.

If you feel angry every time you workout,  something may be wrong with your disposition–it’s most likely not the workout.

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Workout Fail #18:  Eating Incorrectly Prior to  a Vigorous Workout.

It WILL end poorly.

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Workout Fail #19:  Ruining A Good WorkoutWith Horrible Eating Habits.

Cheat days are normal.  But if you complement every workout with a cheat meal you’ll be working out with no results……forever.

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Workout WIN: That Feeling You Get When You’ve Had An Awesome Workout.

Working out will not only help you look better, but will help you feel better about your life and yourself.  Do it!!!

Top 20 Funniest Workout Memes

-AB

All images were used courtesy of Google Images, Pinterest, and Tumblr.

#FIT2014

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January’s over, and we’re halfway through February.  How many of you have kept up your New Year’s Resolutions?

Well the most popular New Year’s Resolution for the year of 2014 (and probably every other year before that), according to www.statisticbrain.com is yes, lose weight.  Yet the amount of people that are actually successful in achieving their weight-related resolutions is less than 50%.  Although I’m not big on making New Year’s Resolutions, I definitely try to maintain health and weight goals I’ve set for myself.  And today I want to share with you info about one app that has kept me on the right track this year.

NIKE+ RUNNING

Let me just say, this app is FANTASTIC!!!!!  Of all of the workout apps I have tried over the past few years, this one is my favorite.  Nike+ Running, according to nikeplus.nike.com, can nike-running-app-2“Map your runs, track your progress, and get the motivation you need to keep going. The Nike+ Running app tracks distance, pace, time and calories burned with GPS, giving you audio feedback as you run. Automatically upload to nikeplus.com to see your runs, including your route, elevation and NikeFuel.”  I’ve found this app to be extremely helpful for a number of reasons, and I’ve outlined some of the ways it’s inspired me below.

1.  MOTIVATION TO RUN: I often struggle with wanting to run, and if you have the same problem, this app definitely helps.  It helps to see how far you’ve come and to match your progress with when you’ve started.  When I first started using the app, I finished a mile in a little over 14 minutes.  Today, my best mile is 10:19.  Having a time to beat really  aids in setting goals and accomplishing them.   Additionally, if you connect this app to Facebook, you can receive cheers during your run and every time you workout, or accomplish a new goal.

2. CREATES COMMUNITY–RACE AGAINST YOUR FRIENDS:  You should really compete with yourself first and foremost when it comes to fitness, but it also doesn’t hurt to have a little bit of friendly competition.   With Nike+ Running you can run with your friends, and track your progress.  My boyfriend and I have a friendly competition going and this week I’m in the lead!! (LOL) But I digress.  :) The point is, no matter where they are in the world, you can track the progress of your friends and family with this app, and motivate each other.

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3. SET GOALS……AND ACHIEVE THEM!!!!  Nike+ Running has a segment of the app where you can set challenges and the app will help you reach them.  It’s almost like having a personal training right with you.  I’m hoping to run a 5k in March, and Nike+ Running is forcing me to work harder every time I run.

Ultimately, this app has helped me accomplish a lot so far, even though the year has just begun.  I have found it to be extremely motivating, and I hope you do too.  Find a partner and get started on the road to #fitness2014!!!!

What keeps you motivated? What fitness goals/traditions have you started this year?  Comment and let me know!! Also feel free to share any apps that help keep you motivated as well.  Happy workouts!!

-AB

10 Reasons Why Pinterest is NOT Just For Women

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Many people believe that Pinterest, a pictorial platform for “collecting and organising things you love,” is just for women.  Well that just isn’t true.  Below are 10 comical, yet realistic reasons why.  Enjoy. ;)

1.  The REAL way to a woman’s heart is through pinterest.  All those other catch-phrase quotes are lies.  Look at my pins, now back to me, now at the pins, now back to me.  You thought the answer was diamonds? Well the diamonds are now on pinterest!! 

2. Pinterest is perfect for Repair/Handyman/DIY projects for men.  If you have a Claire Huxtable at home who doesn’t appreciate your fct1manly masterpieces then pinterest is the answer.  You can create a Do It Yourself board because pinterest is loaded with ideas and simple instructions on how to fix, build, and create just about anything.  Believe me, she’ll be impressed, and you’ll once again reclaim your place as king of the hill.

3. Cooking.  There are endless, countless recipes for food.  Everything from rare steaks to vegan smoothies can be discovered on pinterest.  However, if a fire extinguisher becomes a regular ingredient in your creations, sticking with the Food Network for a little while longer might be a good idea too.

4. Date night ideas.  Valentine’s Day is coming and many of you gentlemen are in trouble.  If your idea of a perfect evening with your significant other doesn’t always pan out like the closing scene of The Notebook (where they both die in the end BTW), then maybe aimages (2) romantic evening board is for you.  Nothing warms a girl’s heart like a carefully-planned outing, and good-ole pinterest is full of sappy soiree suggestions.

5.  Presents!!  Can’t figure out what she likes?  If she has a pinterest you will DEFINITELY find something she likes on there.  It’s almost guaranteed that you will discover at least one board labeled “Things I Like,” or “My Style,” or “I’d Wear That.”  It’s just that simple.

6.  Fitness.  Summer is coming.  #enoughsaid

7. Personal Hobbies.  Whether you like fancy cars or fishing (or both), carthere is a manly pinterest pin out there for you.  If you can’t find one that you like, you can upload your own!  Pinterest really does have all the answers.

8. Clothing and accessories.  Maybe you’re not hitched or a significant other is not your priority.  But that doesn’t mean that you can’t look good.  Struggling with how to tie a tie?  Want some ideas on how to mix and match patterns and solids, cotton and corduroy?  Pinterest can help.  Keep up with your favorite brands, and create a board to categorize your style.

9. Entrepreneurs, education, and factual information.  They’re all here.  Tons of advice on how to start a business, entrepreneureducate yourself, and facts about life can be found here.  Once you find something you like, you can pin it to the board of your choice.

10.  Organization!!  If you need help in this area, pinterest is for you.  If you don’t, you’ll really love it!  The major purpose of pinterest is to help you organize pictorial representations of your interests.  Therefore, it is something that can be applicable to everyone.  So go join!!  If you’re still not convinced, then go back to number 1 and read this post all over again.  Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Follow me on Pinterest!! Click HERE.  And don’t forget to like, comment, and subscribe.  What do you think?  Is pinterest for everyone, or just for women?  Let me know!  :D

-AB

Into the August Red is a lifestyle and fashion blog by A. Brown.  Copyright 2014.  All Rights Reserved.

Tax Season 2014: An Insider Look with Samuel Anjejo, Tax Advisor and Founder of Brookstone Tax Solutions

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IMG_7229Tax season has officially begun.  It is often a stressful time, and one that invokes one of two feelings: a feeling of exhilaration, knowing that a return this year will allow for that vacation long-awaited, or the feeling of dread because there’s no telling how well one’s money was managed during the previous 12 months.

Given the economic beating our nation undertook in 2013 and before, many are experiencing the latter.  However, this is not the end-all outcome, whether we’ve made some poor financial decisions last year or not.  January is just barely ending, and every day is a chance to make a “New Year’s Resolution.”  With some careful financial planning and educated decision-making, I am here to tell you that 2014 can be your best financially-savvy year yet.

For our first feature, we had a sit down with tax advisor, accountant, and founder of Brookstone Tax Solutions, Samuel Anjejo, for an insider look on approaching this year’s season from an educated point of view.

It’s about 9:58 AM, and I walk into the grey stone building filled with offices, past a lady carrying a briefcase and a Starbuck’s cup.  Colton is a busy city, and filled with flourishing small businesses.  A little ways down the hallway I see Brookstone Tax Solutions,  where accountant Samuel and I agreed to meet for the interview.

He greets me, inviting me to sit down, and we engage in some formal pleasantries before the interview begins.  Although we’ve known each other for years, beyond the meetings we have for my personal taxes, this is my first insider look into the business itself.

Me: So tell me about yourself.  Where are you from? Where did you go to school?

Samuel:  I’m Kenyan born, but a Loma Linda, CA native.  I actually went to school at Pacific Union College and graduated from there in 2009.

Me: (Cheer—Pacific Union College is my Alma Mater as well).

Samuel: Yes. I graduated from PUC with a Bachelor’s in Business Administration.

Me: What do you do now?

Samuel: Here at Brookstone Tax Solutions I do tax planning, tax preparation, tax filing, audit assistance, and general financial planning.

Me:  What made you choose to be an accountant?  And why taxes?

Samuel:  I’ve always been fascinated by money and law, and taxes are the easiest way to bring the two together.  By being a tax accountant, you can work with law and numbers.  Another one of the reasons I decided to become an entrepreneurial tax accountant was because of my first job at an established tax franchise. After working with some household names I realized that they were more focused on getting as much money out of people as possible, rather than helping them understand their taxes and how to manage their money well.  Some places I’ve worked with charge $260-$500 for a simple tax return.  And most of the clients we were serving were low-income, high-school graduates, who had no idea what their bills were, or how much they were really being charged.  I didn’t like that.

Me:  So is that why you started Brookstone Tax?

Samuel: Absolutely.  I wanted to charge people reasonable prices and give them valued advice for their money.

Me:  That’s awesome.  So you are an entrepreneur as well.  When did you actually start Brookstone Tax?

Samuel:  Brookstone Tax was founded in 2011.  But I’ve been doing taxes for at least five years now.

Me:  Was it hard starting out as an entrepreneur?  How did you go about the process, and what advice would you give other young entrepreneurs in the Inland Empire, or anywhere in the U.S.?

Samuel:  I think the biggest shocks were the amount of paperwork and procedures you have to go through before you can even begin to get your business going, and how much it costs to get that paperwork done.  So if you’re going to start a business, the first thing you need to do is make sure you have a solid business plan.

Me:  So is that something you do as an accountant?

Samuel:   I offer very general business plan advice, but I would suggest consulting with a lawyer you trust for any in-depth legal counsel and planning.  Most county offices also offer some kind of business advice or counseling.  The San Bernardino County Small Business Development Center offers free help for entrepreneurs just starting out. They also have seminars you can attend on how to market your products and where the needs are.  Product to market fit is very important when starting a business.

Me:  So basically, make sure you have a plan and some good advice before you spend all of your money.  Save it and do some research first.

Samuel: Exactly.

Me: Great advice.  Since we’re talking about saving money, I have a question: why should I spend money and go to an accountant, versus doing my taxes online free with TurboTax, or at H&R Block?  That’s what everyone else uses.

Samuel:  That’s like saying, “Why should I go to the doctor for a diagnosis when I can look at WebMD online free?” The principle is the same.  The best way to look at this question is not from a monetary point of view, but rather as a question of how do I pick an efficient tax-preparer.  For some people, filing online may be a good option.  If you already know quite a lot about taxes and tax-preparation, then filing online is a good option for you.  However, if you don’t know anything about taxes, and don’t even know what a deduction is, you should definitely seek the advice of a tax-preparer.  

Me:  So what are some guidelines for choosing an efficient tax-preparer?

Sam:   The first question I usually get is “How much do you charge?”  If you’re going to buy a car, your first question shouldn’t be focused on the cost of the car.  Your questions should be along the lines of “How many miles per gallon does this car get?”, or “How well is this car going to perform and for how long?”  These questions are similar to those you need to ask yourself when choosing a tax-preparer.  “Does this person know what they’re doing?”, is a great start.  Don’t be afraid to ask them a few questions.  Often the danger with some popular tax preparation franchises is that they have such a high turnover. Every year you might have a new tax-preparer, who may have just finished a two-week course, and they are now preparing your taxes.  Most of them are only taught how to input your information into the computer, and not necessarily how to deal with your individual financial situation.

Me:  So you’ve had experience with both sides–as a franchise tax-preparer and as an entrepreneur?

Samuel:  Yes.  I’ve worked there previously so I’ve seen both sides.  It’s very important to make sure the person you’re working with has experience filing the kind of taxes you need done.  If you have a flourishing business, you will need someone with business tax experience.  If perhaps you’re a resident alien with foreign income, you will need someone with tax expertise in that area.  After you’ve figured out those details, then you can assess your options based on how much they charge.  The national average for tax preparation in the U.S. is around $200.  So price is something to consider once you’ve weighed the specific qualifications of the preparer.

Me:  Any other tips for choosing a tax advisor?

Samuel:  One other important thing to consider is the availability of the preparer.  Will they be accessible year-round?  If for some unfortunate reason you are audited, you need to be able to contact the person who prepared your taxes in the previous year(s).  Some companies may not be available all year.  This is another reason why developing a relationship with one preparer may be helpful.

Me:  So what are some of the number one things people should know about taxes this year?  Are there any big changes?

Samuel:   One of the biggest changes for this year would be ObamaCare.  (Click HERE for more information).  There is a penalty assessed for those who don’t have healthcare insurance, and that penalty may be taken out of your return next year.  So make sure to take care of that formality prior to the tax filing deadline.  There is another tax adjustment for those with in a higher income tax bracket, or higher capital gains, but if you are not making an upper-class income most likely that will not apply to you.  But those are the two most prevalent changes this year.

Me:  Thank you for sharing that.  So now for the question of the year:  I want to be financially savvy in 2014;  where should I start?

Samuel:   1: The first thing you need to do is take control of your finances.  You MUST know what’s going on with your money.   A lot of people don’t.  I should be able to walk up to you on the street and ask you “How much money do you have in your checking account?”, and you should have a fairly if not completely accurate response of how much money you have. Most people just swipe, swipe, until “Ooooooo…..I’m overdrawn.” Essentially, it’s just like making a business plan for your business.  Ask yourself, “What are my long-term life goals, and what will it take to achieve them?” Once you’ve figured that out, you can determine what your finances need to look like in order to accomplish those goals.  If you want to travel, you need to save for that.  If you want a big house, you need to save for that as well.  For this generation of young people, there are also a few things you need to do as soon as you graduate from college, which leads me to my next point.  

2:  GET A HOLD OF YOUR STUDENT LOANS.  Make sure you know how much, to who, and what the interest is on each loan. Then calculate the time it will take you to pay them off with a little more than the minimum payments.  Generally, when you first graduate you do not have an excess of bills, children to provide for, or outstanding additional expenses.  The sooner you can pay your loans off, the sooner you can start saving for retirement, a family, your children’s education, etc., stopping the cycle of loans, loans, loans.  Many young people these days also graduate from college and think they’re above working retail, or food service for extra money.  If you have extra time on your hands and you have loans, pick up a few shifts at McDonald’s, 24 Hour Fitness, Target, etc.  Your friends may laugh at you now when you’re working on a Sunday instead of lying in bed at home, but when your bills are paid off and you’re debt-free they will wish they had done the same thing.

3: KNOW YOUR CREDIT SCORE.  Know what it is, and how to find it. Your credit score is composed of several different areas, and most of your financial transactions and bills are incorporated into it.  (Click HERE for more information on your credit score breakdown).  Make sure you are aware of what is being put on your credit, and by whom.  Credit is VERY important in any major purchases you make in life, including buying a car or home, and can even affect your ability to purchase a cell-phone plan. KNOW THIS INFORMATION!  (Visit annualcreditreport.com for more information on checking your credit score).

Me: Yes!!! This information is VERY important for you to know.  Are there any last tax tips you would like to leave me with, Samuel? 

Samuel:  Well, your taxes are the single biggest expense you will have in your life.  Everyone has to pay taxes.  The sooner we realize that taxes are not the enemy, the sooner the process will become easier. The question then will be how do you legally pay the smallest amount possible on your taxes. (Keyword LEGALLY!!)  With the help of a good tax advisor you can determine that, and pay exactly what you owe, and not a penny more. But in the end, the actual filing of taxes is only about 30% of the work.  The most important part happens throughout the year, when you’re shopping at Nordstrom, or sifting through sales at H&M, spending money.  Find a good tax advisor and stick with them.  That person will help you make wise financial decisions throughout the year, so when tax season comes you will be ready and educated.  And if you are looking for an educated tax advisor, Brookstone Tax Solutions is a great place to get your taxes done.

Me:  Very true! It’s where I get my taxes done! Well, thank you Sam for your time and for this very useful information!  I look forward to consulting with you on my taxes.

Samuel: You’re very welcome.

And that marks the conclusion of this interview.  I hope you learned as much as I did.  The world of American economics can be a very confusing place at times if we are not educated and aware of all its facets and intricacies.  Let’s be informed in 2014 and make the best financial decisions possible in order to foster a more stable economy.

If you are interested in getting in touch with Brookstone Tax Solutions, please use the information below.  They will be looking forward to hearing from you.  Thank you so much for reading and don’t forget to like, comment, share, and subscribe!!

Brookstone Tax Solutions
1400 E. Cooley Dr. Suite 103
Colton, CA. 92324
samanjejo@hotmail.com
Twitter: @brookstonetax
Facebook: Brookstone Tax

Facebook group: Millenial Money (A facebook group by Brookstone Tax where you can pose any financial questions you have to a group of flourishing young business and lifestyle individuals for comments or feedback).

-AB

Into the August Red is a lifestyle and fashion blog by A. Brown.  Copyright 2014.  All Rights Reserved.

Why I Don’t Love My Fiance

Into The August Red:

This is so unconventional and so awesome.

Originally posted on Michael J. Pittman:

In 130 days I’m getting married, and a friend recently asked me why I love my fiancé. I wanted to share a deeper perspective on Amanda and I’s relationship, so before I answered why I love her, I had to first explain to him the reasons I don’t love my future bride to be.

I came to two conclusions:
First is, I don’t love Amanda for what’s on the outside. I know. It sounds cheesy, it sounds sappy. This perspective is not a novel idea by any means. How many times have you heard someone say, “I don’t love you for what’s on the outside. I love you for what’s on the inside.” But that brings me to my second conclusion.

I don’t love Amanda for what’s on the inside either.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are many things on the inside and outside that I love about

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