What I’ve learned in 4 years

The other night, I was signing into my WordPress account and said to the Pilot:

“I’ve written almost 3,000 posts.”

4 years. It’s like I’ve gone through undergrad all over again writing this little blog, and on the many pages, you’ll find stories about things that have happened in the past four years. Deployments, moving, the good stuff, the tough stuff, pregnancy/baby, and lot of the events in between. With everything that’s on here, there’s also quite a bit that isn’t, as I try to keep a balance between what I choose to blog about. Over the past 4 years, my eating style has changed, my workout styles have changed, my blog style has changed, and I’ve changed.

Me and liv 4

I’m not by any means a blogging pro or expert, but just thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learned:

-Blog what you love. This one has always been important to me because I’ve found that it’s more enjoyable to write about the things I love and care about than trying to mimic other blog styles. In the beginning, I really wanted to be a standard healthy living blogger, blogging all of my meals and snacks. I eventually realized that wasn’t inspiring or enjoyable to me, especially since a lot of my meals and snacks are redundant and kinda boring. If I don’t feel inspired writing about a certain topic, I don’t write. Sometimes this means beefy posts with usable content, or maybe it’s just the way Bella’s hair blows in the breeze πŸ˜‰

Bell

I think the amazing thing about blogging is that there are so many types and options out there, anyone will be able to find a topic or blogger they enjoy and relate to. Make your blog reflect YOU and keep true to yourself. Whenever other bloggers email me for tips, that’s the first thing I’ll say. Don’t write like you’re trying to make a living off your blog or put too much pressure on yourself: write what you love and the audience will come. Even if you’re like me and the first people to really read your blog are your mom, nana, husband and VeggieGirl (thank you, Liz for being awesome from the very beginning ) πŸ˜‰

On the same note, write a blog that you would love to read. I especially love reading blogs with little bits of the blogger’s life or personality thrown in- otherwise, it’s the same thing as reading a generic cookbook (DIY book, Fashion book, whatever). Do you.

NewImage

-It’s ok to change. So many of my favorite bloggers have changed over the years that I’ve read them. Even if it took a while for me to get used to as a reader, I’ve usually enjoyed their blogs even more afterwards, since they were staying true to themselves and adapting their blog to go along with life changes. Two of the blogs that come to mind are Eat, Live, Run and How Sweet It Is, which both evolved from their original styles/format. And, just when I didn’t think it would be possible to love these girls even more, it happened. The other blogs that changed and I didn’t really love it? I stopped reading them. NBD. The blogs I read change on a regular basis according to what’s going on in my life, even though there’s the core group I read pretty much every day.Β 

Cimg1412

(Meghann’s pic from the first blog dinner I ever went to)

-Photography matters. This is one I fought for a loooong time. I thought my grainy point-and-shoot pics were just fine -the Pilot would ALWAYS say to me “they look blurry” but they looked clear to me.. my eyesight is also a little iffy so there ya go. I realized that the blogs I enjoyed reading the most were ones with vibrant, luscious photos. I bought a DSLR, am still really learning how to use it two years later, but I recognize the fact that photography does matter. It will never be a true passion of mine, but as a huge component of my blog (along with techie know-how) it’s something that I’m at least attempting to improve.

Bloggies 2

-Some people hate their picture being on a blog. This is on the same note as taking good photos, but over time I’ve realized that some people really, really don’t want their photos on a blog. I’m always been sneaky about taking pics at events, and have always asked before posting photos of other people, but I really toned down the friend pictures. I don’t tell a lot of my newer friends about the blog, and the good friends that I’ve known for years obviously know about it, but when I’m enjoying time with them, I don’t usually take photos. My family usually doesn’t mind the occasional appearance (it helps that my bro and Meg have blogs), but this is why I’ve learned to post more photos of things instead of people.

-Take the good with the bad. When you put yourself out there for others to see/read, expect criticism and take it with a grain of sea salt. Some of the things people will say are easy to brush off your shoulders, but every now and again, you’ll get a zinger that you’ll feel in your soul (at least I do). I try to have compassion for the person writing the comment. Usually there’s something else going on in their life which is causing them to share their negativity so generously, and sometimes, there is true constructive criticism that I take to heart.

Over time, I’ve realized something pretty important when it comes to the negative stuff:

No matter what you do, someone out there will have a problem with it.

NewImage

For a long time, I tried to write my blog so everyone would be happy. Each sentence was so carefully and delicately constructed as to not step on any toes, but then I realized that it was exhausting, and still, no matter what I did, pleasing everyone was an unattainable goal. So the thing is: make yourself happy with what you write and stand by that. Write to the people that get you and understand you, not the ones who are looking to pull you apart.

-Quality over quantity. I’ve written some boring/crappy/lame posts since the Fitnessista’s inception, mostly because I was killing time in Valdosta. I realized later that I wasn’t proud of those posts and would rather focus on topics/quality instead of quantity.

-Blog friends are amazing. When I first started the blog, I had no idea that an entire world existed out there of people who enjoy the same things I do. Other people like quinoa! Other people think pictures of cats doing yoga are funny! Other people get stoked about quick workouts and healthy recipes!Β It blew my mind. I also had no idea that through writing the blog I’d have the chance to meet and connect with so many incredible people.

This post ended up being way longer than I anticipated… guess it’s just one of those “spill my heart out” kinda mornings πŸ˜‰

Thank you, as always, for hanging out with me over here <3

Hope you have a happy Wednesday!

xoxo

Gina

What have you learned from blogging? What have you learned from reading blogs??

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130 Comments

  1. Vanessa P on October 17, 2012 at 11:30 am

    This is so enlightening and inspiring! I, myself, and just beginning to blog and look to your blog as a huge inspiration. I will bookmark this, so that hopefully, as my blog grows, I will remember these suggestions! You are the first blog I read, and the one that prompted me to begin my own πŸ™‚ Thanks!

  2. Katie on October 17, 2012 at 11:35 am

    Loved this post! I agree, be you and be true is something I have always done when it comes to blogging. My posts are all over the place, but I just be true to me and post what I love!

    Lovely post! I am glad we connected through blogs Gina! It is amazing to look back when I first started blogging, shows how much I have really grown. Whoa, some of my first blog posts and pics, scary! Lol!

    Happy Wednesday! xo <3

  3. Meg on October 17, 2012 at 11:36 am

    YES! Blog friends are AMAZING! You said it girl πŸ™‚

  4. Erica { EricaDHouse.com } on October 17, 2012 at 11:40 am

    To not blog if you don’t feel like it – readers can tell! Also, to be honest about things that are going on in your life. I recently split from my bf who was featured on the blog all the time and I did my first video explaining what happened. It just seemed fair to my faithful readers!

  5. Samantha on October 17, 2012 at 11:41 am

    My blog has changed style over time but I think it has opened up the scope more for hopefully more people to enjoy. I personally love blogging and that keeps me doing it. I love it more when a post inspires or makes someone else happy. πŸ™‚

    Have a great day!

  6. Whitney @ Whit Likes Fit on October 17, 2012 at 11:44 am

    Great post. I absolutely love your blog so much that it inspired me to start my own. Ideally I’d love to fill every day with a post about a healthy recipe and a workout but sometimes it’s just me saying how I managed to stay active after working an 8+ hour day. It’s my life and I’m totally fine just writing it for me. Thanks for being such an inspiration.

  7. Tayla @ She'll Be Free on October 17, 2012 at 11:46 am

    I really loved reading this post. It helped me put some things into perspective in terms of my own blog. Great tips! Thanks<3

  8. Stellina @ My Yogurt Addiction on October 17, 2012 at 11:49 am

    Great post Gina! I have also learned so much from blogging and I’ve only been seriously doing it for about a year. I totally agree with you on the photos! That’s something I’ve definitely got to work on! I’ve also met some fantastic people in the blogging community. I recently went to HLS this summer and LOVED it! Like you, I didn’t know that there is a whole community who gets excited about taking pictures of food, going on long runs and then writing about it!

    Blogging has changed my life for the better! Congrats on 3000 posts πŸ™‚

  9. Hayley @ Running on Pumpkin on October 17, 2012 at 11:50 am

    I love this post and it’s really helpful as I am still a newbie to the blog world! Regarding the last point about blog friends: I have already connected with some amazing people through blogging but I would love to actually meet some in person! I have yet to find any sort of blogger meet-ups in my area and would love some advice πŸ™‚

  10. Jackie@MuscleUpMom on October 17, 2012 at 11:52 am

    I really liked your list and your attitude about accepting criticism is refreshing. My blog is so new I haven’t had to face that yet but I’m similarly hoping if I write what I love and do it well, readers will come. I agree that posting when you want to is better than following a strict “blog everything I eat. Work out” format.

  11. Lisa @ Lisa the Vegetarian on October 17, 2012 at 11:55 am

    Wow, nearly 3000 posts! That seems so far away from where I am right now, having just really started focusing more on blogging. I’d love to know what were some of the things you did to grow your blog and audience in the beginning? I find that no matter my post content, if I’m not out there actively trying to get people to come to my blog, they won’t.

    Congrats on coming so far in 4 years!

  12. Kimberly on October 17, 2012 at 11:59 am

    I love reading your blog. You make it personal and honest and write about the things you care about. The new look is great!

    From blogging, I’ve learned that people are surprisingly interested in the things I write about. I blogged every run as I trained for a half-marathon and a marathon. It was intended as a personal log, (I thought it would be boring!) but people wanted to know training secrets and they were supportive in sharing their knowledge. I also blogged every day during my recent 200-hour yoga teacher training intensive. People drooled over the food and worried about me when I tweaked my shoulder and hamstring. Most people don’t comment so I am always surprised when I find out how loyally people were reading.

    I love reading blogs. I like seeing formatting, content, and personality. Several times a year I participate in The Ultimate Blog Challenge so I write more and read more blogs. The most important thing (besides posting regular content) that I have incorporated into my blog from observing bloggers in that challenge is CommentLuv. It shows me what my readers are writing and it’s a great way to connect.

    You are absolutely right about photography making a huge difference. I need to focus on making mine better. I’ll read things that I’m not particularly interested in if the photos are nice. Right now most of my photos come from my iPhone because it’s so easy to upload!

    Keep up the great work!

  13. NYC Fit Girl on October 17, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    As a newer blogger I really enjoyed your post! I have a lot to look forward too!

  14. Casey Mounday on October 17, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    Your Blog is just amazing!! I look forward to reading your posts each and everyday! I love everything you write about! You are an absolute inspiration to others!!!
    xoxo

    • Fitnessista on October 18, 2012 at 1:03 am

      thank you, casey. i appreciate your kind words so much!

  15. Simone on October 17, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    I just started my blog a few weeks ago so I really appreciate the tips, thanks!

  16. Ashley on October 17, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    love this post! i took a food blogging class at my college that helped a lot with blog design and layout, as well as with how to write better posts. what’s kept me going is the blog world – i love reading other blogs and learning little tips/tricks, new recipes, or seeing great workout ideas, and i love sharing my own recipe successes with a community that appreciates that subject πŸ™‚

  17. Danielle@cleanfoodcreativefitness on October 17, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    Gina I love this post and I love your blog! You were one of the very first blogs I started reading and fell in love with it! You have so many awesome qualities about your blog and to be honest it was one of the things that helped me to normalize my eating! I think you are such a great example of a positive and healthy lifestyle! Keep up the amazing work πŸ™‚

    • Fitnessista on October 18, 2012 at 1:03 am

      thank you danielle! <3

  18. Laura on October 17, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    I’ve been reading since the very beginning. (You were one of the first readers of my old blog, On the Threshold of Greatness, which I appreciate) I’ve loved watching you grow over the years. I don’t comment as much as I used to, but I definitely still read!

  19. Michelle @ Eat Move Balance on October 17, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    I’ve learned . . . . that I LOVE blogging, more than I ever imagined I would. It took me years to start a blog, not knowing if anyone would read or if I would really enjoy it as much as I enjoy reading them. Turns out it’s quite the creative outlet for me, and I feel as though it’s filling some void I never totally realized I had.

  20. Lisa @ Fresh Spinach on October 17, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    Thank you for this. It was inspiring as a fellow blogger to have some of your tips.

  21. Parita @ myinnershakti on October 17, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    Great post, Gina! I truly look forward to reading your blog every day and am excited to see what the next 4 years bring! For me personally, blogging has taught me to stay true to who I am and my passions (probably why my blog is all over the place with different topics). Also, you are absolutely right that people want to get to know you as a person. My most read posts are the ones where I share stories about my childhood, my marriage, the things I love and don’t love, etc. πŸ™‚

  22. Emily @ Glitz Glam Granola on October 17, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    Wow, congratulations on 4 years of blogging! That is such an amazing accomplishment and something to truly be proud of! It’s also really cool that now you have this place where you can relive so many parts of the last four years! These were all great tips too and I think you are right about needing to be true to yourself when blogging. In the beginning I felt bad if I didn’t post once a day, but now I realize that it’s just not realistic for me with my busy schedule. Now I shoot for 2-3x a week and am happy with that. And you are right about the other bloggers- I feel like we are all friends! I want to go to an event now and meet some of these lovely ladies in person!

  23. Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic on October 17, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    Hi Gina, these are all great points. I’ve been a regular reader for years and have loved how your blog evolved. I also have been blogging for a few years now and can definitely relate to all of these. Looking forward to more blog years!

  24. Kaylee on October 17, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    I love your blog Gina. I’ve been going through some tough times lately and reading it every morning makes me happy/distracts me from my problems. I hope you keep blogging for a long time! xx

    • Fitnessista on October 18, 2012 at 1:03 am

      thank you, kaylee.
      sending love to you- hope things turn around quickly for you. hang in there and i’ll be thinking about you. let me know if there’s any way i can help.
      xoxo

  25. Laura on October 17, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    Congrats on 3000 posts! That is so great! One thing I have learned from blogging/reading blogs is that we all struggle with similar issues – time management, healthy choices, etc.

  26. Amanda @ .running with spoons. on October 17, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    Really loved reading this post, Gina. I went back to look at a lot of your earlier posts, and you’ve definitely come a long way and grown so much πŸ™‚ I think the most important thing about blogging is to be yourself and be honest. You definitely hit the nail on the head when you mentioned that you can’t please everyone, and rather than writing to fit some mould of what other’s want you to be, I think it’s important to stay true to yourself. People tend to pick up on fakeness, and there’s nothing more of-putting than a person acting out a role.

    • Fitnessista on October 18, 2012 at 1:01 am

      i totally agree- it makes me sad to see that happen
      thank you so much for reading <3

  27. Jessica @ That Girl Jessica on October 17, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    Hi Gina, I’ve been reading your blog for years but I don’t think I’ve ever commented! I couldn’t agree more with the “stay true to yourself” sentiment here. I recently started my own blog (it was my first assignment in grad school, but I’ve wanted to start one for awhile now) so this post came at a great time for me. πŸ˜‰ P.S. I loved your blogging style when you started and love how it’s changed and evolved — keep doing what you’re doing πŸ™‚

    • Fitnessista on October 18, 2012 at 1:01 am

      thank you, jessica!

  28. Leslie on October 17, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    I’ve read for a long time but must say it has become one of my favorites in the last year or so. Thank you for always being a positive place for me to spend a moment each day. I have learned some things and am inspired often. Thanks for all that you do to be an ambassador of health and well being. I count you as a blessing.

    • Fitnessista on October 18, 2012 at 1:01 am

      wow- made my night. thank you so much for reading <3

  29. Ryan on October 17, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    I so love your blog, Gina! You are one of my “core” blogs that I check into everyday. I always appreciate your honesty (I still remember when you announced adding chicken into your life) and love the family posts πŸ˜‰ Keep up the great work!!

    • Fitnessista on October 18, 2012 at 1:00 am

      thank you for reading, ryan!

  30. brandalyn on October 17, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    I meant to write this the other day on your post about post baby, but wanted to say I think your abs look amazing!

    • Fitnessista on October 18, 2012 at 1:00 am

      ohh thank you!!

  31. Dani on October 17, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    Gina–You are such an AMAZING woman! I love coming to visit your page and seeing how REAL you are. It is a breath of fresh air in this blog world and I have loved watching your journey over the past year or so since I started reading. Thanks for continuing to be such a wonderful inspiration πŸ™‚

    • Fitnessista on October 18, 2012 at 1:00 am

      thank YOU so much for reading and for such a beautiful comment- i appreciate the kind words so much

  32. Ashlee @ HisnHers on October 17, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    Great tips! I think I definitely need to invest in a better camera πŸ˜‰

  33. Angie on October 17, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    That was a great post! Informative and enlightening. Four years go by super fast!

    • Fitnessista on October 18, 2012 at 12:59 am

      they do! it’s crazy

  34. Mara @ What's For Dinner? on October 17, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    I can’t believe you’ve been blogging for four years… that means I’ve been blogging for four years, which is just weird. I’ve learned that some of my best friends are ones that I’ve met through the computer. I’m so grateful for that! Love you my friend!

    • Fitnessista on October 18, 2012 at 12:59 am

      amen to that! love you too, friend

  35. Averie @ Averie Cooks on October 17, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    Gina, congrats on four years! I think Liz was my very first reader, too! And your blog and Kath’s were among the first I ever read! And I think I started reading your blog within months of your first post and have read 95%+ of them since and it’s been amazing watching you, your family, your blog, just everything about YOU grow, change, evolve, blossom. It’s been a gift that you have shared your life openly with others and have posted at least once, twice, or even 3x a day, every.day.for.four.years. Thank you for being you! And for your candid reflections in this post, and always! πŸ™‚

    • Fitnessista on October 18, 2012 at 12:59 am

      thank you for being a wonderful blog friend and real life friend πŸ™‚
      xoxo

  36. Catherine on October 17, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    What a wonderful post! It’s such a turnoff when you get to a blog and can tell the author is pandering for readership.

    I’ll tell you something: I don’t really exercise, I completely do my own thing with eating, and yet I read your blog every day because of YOU – you’re so genuine and fun and share just the right amount about your life. It’s like checking in with a friend every day, and even though my life has very little in common with yours, I still love your reflections about your day-to-day. Thank you for your wonderful thoughts and your dedication to this project you started. My personal project is a doctoral dissertation right now, but the way you stick with this blog (because you love it) is so motivating when I need to keep chipping away at my own project. You’re the best. πŸ™‚

    • Fitnessista on October 18, 2012 at 12:59 am

      that means so much to me, catherine <3
      sending best wishes to you with your dissertation- that's so admirable.
      thank you for reading and for your kind and wonderful comments.

  37. Liz on October 17, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    Love your blog! Can’t go a day without reading it, you do a great job!
    Where are the pants from in the first pic with Olivia? So cute!

    • Fitnessista on October 18, 2012 at 12:58 am

      thank you, liz! hm

  38. Kara on October 17, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    I <3 you, Gina! Favorite blog πŸ™‚

    • Fitnessista on October 18, 2012 at 12:57 am

      <3 to you! thank you :)

  39. natalie @ will jog for food on October 17, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    I’ve learned about so many different foods! I would never have tried a “green monster” if it wasnt for blogs.

    Photography is important, but I’m SO lazy! haha. I don’t want to spend 20 minutes setting up a food shot when I’m hungry. I have a DSLR and haven’t used it in a while. I need to get back into it!

  40. Sylvia on October 17, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    I LOVE this post! I think I’ll bookmark it to come back to if I feel stuck in a rut, you are so motivating and inspiring. Your blog is the first thing I open when I get on my laptop, it’s like I can’t start my day untill I check out what’s new with Gina haha.

    • Fitnessista on October 18, 2012 at 12:57 am

      aww, thank you, sylvia!

  41. Jade on October 17, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    Thanks for the tips! I’m new to blogging so I have a lot to learn!

  42. Beverly Aragon on October 17, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    Wow, nearly 3,000 posts. Amazing! I’ve been reading (although just now starting to be more of a commenter) since the near beginnings and it’s been a pleasure to see the blog grow and evolve to the fabulousness that it is. I am in awe of all you do and the fact that I am even more in love with Fitnessista today than I was when I found it 3.5 years ago speaks volumes for the hard work you put into it. Thank you, Gina!

    • Fitnessista on October 18, 2012 at 12:57 am

      i always look forward to seeing your name in the comments πŸ™‚
      thank you for reading <3

  43. Shelby on October 17, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    Hi there! I’m a new follower, I some how stumbled across your blog and am so glad I did! I can’t get enough of your awesome recipes, work out tips and your sweet daughter is so cute (and only a couple weeks older than my boy, Jacob) so it’s fun to see the development along with my little guy. Just wanted to say hi and that I love reading your blog πŸ™‚ You’re welcome to come check out my blog but I’m not updating too frequently these days with working and running after 2 kiddos πŸ™‚ Thanks for writing!

    • Fitnessista on October 18, 2012 at 12:57 am

      i definitely will! thank you!

  44. Heather on October 17, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    Gina, I love your blog! I’m still a fairly new reader (less than a year), but your words have been so encouraging for making time to exercise, eat right, and set a good example for my 4-month-old daughter for healthy living and positive body image.

    Keep doing what you do- I look forward to your posts every day!

    • Fitnessista on October 18, 2012 at 12:56 am

      thank you, heather- i appreciate you reading and your kind words so much

  45. Melissa on October 17, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    I start my day reading your blog and often look through posts for other information. You are inspiring and down to earth. I appreciate all of your fitness and recipe advice and reviews. I also am 20 weeks pregnant and often review your pregnancy posts as well. thanks for all that you do!

    • Fitnessista on October 18, 2012 at 12:56 am

      congratulations on your pregnancy! thank you so much for reading. sending lots of healthy and happy wishes to you and your family

  46. Emily @ Have Your Cake And on October 17, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    I’ve been reading your blog for about a year and a half and must say you are definitely one of the bloggers that influenced me to recently start my own blog. I really love how your personality comes out in every post. Thank you for this amazing post! Such great advice

    • Fitnessista on October 18, 2012 at 12:56 am

      thank you, emily! keep up the amazing work with your blog πŸ™‚

  47. Irina @ Chocolatea Time on October 17, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    What a wonderful, reflective post with great advice! I think the main thing that keeps me blogging (and enjoying it!) is staying true to myself. If I start to post just to post or write posts that please people, I start dreading blogging in general. My blog is my outlet and I’ll keep treating it that way no matter what!

  48. Sarabell on October 17, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    I agree with all of this! When a blogger is blogging-to-blog and not blogging because they WANT to blog, you can tell… I think your blog will always be a favorite for me and I love that you’re more concerned with being YOU than worry about what other people think! =]

  49. Evonne on October 17, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    I’ve been reading your blog for the past few months, and I’ve got to say that you are in inspiration! Thank you for your candid posts and your service as a Mil Spouse. I am a Mil Spouse as well and I immediately felt a connection to your blog. You and your fam are absolutely adorbs!

    • Fitnessista on October 18, 2012 at 12:55 am

      thank you for reading and to you and your husband for serving our country <3

  50. Lisa on October 17, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    Loved this! I think its so important to write about what you are passionate about! Your blog is one I continue to read, because I can feel you are passionate about the subjects your speak about which makes it great to read. And blog friends are awesome!

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