Old South Studios bio picture

    We are a team of professional wedding photographers solely devoted to "happily ever afters". Our commercial studio is based in Charlotte, NC and we capture weddings in the Carolinas and beyond. We believe in family, love and the power of storytelling through our photography. The ladies of Old South would love to capture your big day!

Now before we can talk about how adorable this couple, Candice and Brad, are….lemme just tell you about Bill and Marie!

Candice’s parents are adorable.  I mean the kindest, sweetest people ever.  Bill and Marie came into the studio back in October with their daughter, Candice, because they LOVE HER BIG.  By the end of that meeting I *low key* wanted them to adopt me  :)

During the meeting, I asked about Candice’s dress and all 3 of them burst into laughter.  Months earlier, Candice and her Mom had been on a beach trip in Myrtle Beach, SC and casually stopped into a bridal shop to look at gowns.  Then they set up an appointment in October to buy *the dress* and it was the weekend of a hurricane.  For real.  The National Weather Service was telling people to avoid the roads in SC at all costs….but….her amazing parents offered to drive with her through the crazy wind and rain to get that amazing dress she had her heart set on. How precious is that?

But, seriously, Bill and Marie even came to the engagement shoot to help wrangle the pups for us too.  These are my people, y’all! When brides have been loved so well throughout their childhoods (and into adulthood too), they seek out partners who are spectacular matches for them.

Candice and Brad have that spark. Their first date was at Maggiano’s and they wanted to be sure to weave that part of their story into their engagement session.  So, we hit the park for pics with their fur babies, Keeper and Henry, then popped over to South Park for more fun.  The Christmas decor was such a bonus and their playful, childlike nature totally took over (the pic of her flying  in his arms wearing the red coat is my personal fave):)

Enjoy a peek at the fun we had in December at their engagement session.  I cannot wait until the big day in March!

If you’ve been following along, you know I’m prepping to lead some fabulous ladies (like you!) fearlessly into 2019.  We are ready to set some goals, make some plans, track our progress and more.  We vow to start where we are (move more/eat less than wherever you are today), drink our water, write our 24 hour food plans and commit to consistent exercise.

We will NOT jump on the bandwagon of fad diets, shakes/cleanses, etc. that we know will just be a bandaid for a bigger problem.

The truth is that every woman on the planet KNOWS that broccoli is healthier than a Twix bar.  Our problem isn’t knowledge-based.  Instead, it is behavior-based.

My last post was about restructuring those daily habits to start better supporting your long term goals.  Maybe you want to lose 10 pounds (or 80 pounds!), drop a pant size (or 3!), feel confident in a bathing suit again by summer, or run a 5K.

But, when you are tired, overworked, stressed and overall NOT in the mood for a healthy meal and/or workout…you need a REALLY GOOD reason to keep pushing forward.

You need to define exactly WHY you want to get healthier.

For me, I knew I needed to get into better shape when I found myself lacking the energy to play with my kids.  I remember a fun (and very competitive!) game of charades in August of 2017 and I kept getting winded.  I was truly out of breath just from acting out riding a rollercoaster or pushing a grocery cart.  It was a silly game but it had me sweating and needing to sit down. I kept thinking to myself “if you are winded playing a game at 42, how the heck will you make it to 82?”

I also found myself shying away from Zumba classes I used to love solely because of my lack of fitness.  I knew I’d be too out of shape to keep up and would just get frustrated with myself.  This was my favorite form of exercise on the planet and I didn’t feel healthy enough to go.  If I felt that way in my early 40s, the likelihood of me enjoying dance in my 50s and 60s was never going to happen. I was missing out on my own life!

My WHY is all about living life to the fullest.  I wanted to get fit again to enjoy every opportunity with my family and to stop feeling like my weight/lack of fitness was holding me back from enjoying activities I love.  As I approach midlife, I am very mindful that this body has to get me to the finish line.  I want to enjoy my grandkids one day and never, ever shy away from fun opportunities because of my own lack of fitness.


Lots of people choose a word to describe the year ahead (not necessarily a New Year’s resolution but a word to define the year you want to have). In January of 2018, I wrote in my journal that my word for the year ahead would be VITALITY.

Webster’s defines vitality as “lively and animated character” or “physical and mental vigor”.  That is exactly what I was lacking and desperately wanted to reclaim.  And I knew the path to get there would mean changing my daily habits, eating at home more than eating out, making exercise a part of my daily routine and saying no to overeating/drinking when stress creeped into my life.

It didn’t happen overnight.  And even though I lost 20+ pounds this year, I am still 20 pounds away from my “goal weight” (its really a range more than a specific number). But, I am a LOT closer to those goals and definitely living life with more vigor/vitality.  I am still defining my goals for 2019 but I am excited for continued progress!

So, what is your WHY?  Is to be a better Mom for your kids? Is it to feel more confident in your own skin so you’ll stop shying away from intimacy with your husband? Is it be less tired and have more energy to do the things you love? Is it to become your most fearless self so you can finally leave that job/relationship/situation you feel stuck in? Seriously, one of my reasons was to finally feel confident in front of a camera again (the photographer who is never in photos is weird, y’all!!) Maybe you have seen relatives in your own family die way too young from poor health.  Maybe your WHY is to live long enough to see your children get married and play with your grandkids one day. WRITE IT DOWN. You know I believe in the power of pen to paper.

What word are you choosing to define your year ahead? Fearless? Energetic? Focused? Intentional? Driven? What word do you want to be the overriding theme of the next 12 months ahead? WRITE IT DOWN. Pen to paper…you know the drill by now!

Join me tomorrow when I describe in great detail the daily Instagram challenge we will begin on January 2.  Time to get this New Year started right!!

I know it seems daunting. It’s the beginning of a New Year. You have so many goals you’d like to achieve. Getting in shape, losing weight, being more organized, managing your time better, spending more quality time with loved ones, finally saving enough money for that vacation you want to take…the list could go on and on.

But that list can also feel so intimidating that you feel too overwhelmed to do ANY of it. Then you find yourself soaking in the bath with a bottle of wine and a cheesecake wondering how you can feel so defeated by never having started??

So, instead of looking 10-12 months ahead, how about we focus our attention on the JUST THE one day in front of you?

That’s where the power of the 24 hour plan comes in.

I’ve been using this planner, Full Focus Planner by Michael Hyatt, for the past year. You can order it HERE and have it on your doorstep this week!  I love it’s layout and it’s emphasis on habit change.  A year of successful changes hinges on your DAILY HABITS and this planner has helped me tremendously in the past year.  The company sends you one every quarter and who doesn’t love getting a fresh new planner in the ol’ snail mail every 3 months?

image1Every day consists of one spread.  The left page has the DAILY BIG 3.  These are often as simple for me as “fold all laundry, pick up kids from school, call dentist to make appointment” OR as complicated as “finish company taxes, book hotel for destination wedding in March, do Liift 4 Back/Biceps workout”.  These are the 3 things that MUST happen today (big or small) before the sun goes down.  We southern girls could also term the Daily 3 as our “Come Hell or High Water” list.  You get the gist! You can certainly add in OTHER TASKS below that you hope to accomplish too but focusing on 3 big goals each day sets you up for greater success.

A huge component of weight loss is learning to believe in yourself again.  Keeping that inner mean girl voice at bay who LOVES to whisper “you fail at everything, remember that diet you tried and quit last year?, you’ve never kept a journal for more than 3 days in your life, etc. etc.” comes from making daily promises to yourself and keeping them.  These Daily 3 are the promises you will make to yourself in the next 24 hours AND KEEP THEM.  They don’t have to be huge….better yet, make them super achievable! There is power in putting 3 checkmarks on that left side page day after day.  When you do it often enough, suddenly your faith in yourself re-emerges.  And you just might get up enough nerve one day to BELIEVE you can do a workout that requires an actual sports bra (me…circa January 2018).  Believing in yourself again really does matter.  Make those promises and keep them.
image6Oh, that right page.  I use it for LOTS of different things.  Some mornings, I write myself an inspiring quote or Bible verse to try to memorize.  Sometimes I scribble a happy note to myself like “2 pounds lost!!” with tons of hearts drawn around like some giddy 4th grader.  But the most important thing I’ll write is what I plan to eat that day.  Seriously. Just planning 24 hours of meals ahead of time makes ALL the difference.

And remember my post 2 days ago “Start Where you ARE?” This applies to the nutrition planning you will do too.  For example, if you know your family is headed to Chick-Fil-A today for lunch, plan for it.  Don’t pretend you aren’t going to eat there if your entire family will be eating. Sitting there alone dreaming of kale isn’t a very realistic plan (plus it makes everyone else feel super weird scarfing down nuggets drowned in Chick-Fil-A sauce around you!).  I’m a big fan of Corrine Crabtree’s “GOOD, BETTER, BEST” philosophy. (You can listen to her podcasts free HERE.  I adore her common sense approach to weight loss!)

START WHERE YOU ARE!!! I used to be a Combo Meal #1 girl at Chick-Fil-A.  I loved that Chicken Sandwhich, Fries and Diet Lemonade combo like I love my firstborn!! Mmmmm….. BUT, I also wanted to fit into smaller jeans so, I’d thoughtfully consider what better choice I could make that day at the Chicken Heaven.  The “GOOD” choice might be just the sandwich and no fries.  It was a step in the “EAT LESS” direction and certainly progress.  The “BETTER” choice might be the Spicy Chicken Salad.  More veggies, more fiber and still a step towards progress.  The “BEST” choice might be the little side kale salad (Superfood salad and it is yummy!) with a side order of grilled nuggets.  That would include the leanest protein, lots of greens and healthy fat in the vinaigrette dressing.

The point is that IF YOU ARE someone who has some weight to lose, your pants size indicates you are NOT great at making healthy choices in the heat of the moment.  Hungry Julie makes awful decisions.  She just does.  BUT, Morning Julie, sitting at her kitchen table, can make much better choices so she writes down “Spicy Chicken Salad” from CFA for lunch.  Then…..wait for it…..because she promised herself ON PAPER that she would order that salad instead of her beloved #1 Combo, the chances of Hungry Julie ACTUALLY ordering the salad are infinitely higher. True story!

There is power in putting pen to paper, y’all.  THIS IS HOW YOU ACHIEVE LONG TERM, SUSTAINABLE WEIGHT LOSS.  There is great power in the 24 hour plan. Heck, I’ll even plan out how many glasses of wine I’m going to drink at a party.  I’m super honest with my plan and then I can still feel confident that I kept promises to myself (even on wine night!).  It might also mean adding a 30 minute HIIT workout that day to help burn off those extra calories but that is on the plan too.

You just have to get super honest with yourself.  Repeat after me…..YOU STINK at making healthy choices when it’s been 6 hours since your last morsel, you haven’t grocery shopped and your kids are asking “what’s for dinner”.  DO NOT set yourself up for those scenarios.  Just write down what you plan to eat/drink for the next 24 hours and take it one day at a time.
image7I also love this opening section of each quarterly planner.  It leaves space for you to write out your Daily Rituals.  We each have them.  They just might need to be reworked to achieve your health goals in 2019. My morning ritual is my most important set of actions.  They truly set the tone for the ENTIRE day.  My hubby likes to attend a 5:30 a.m. Crossfit class, so starting January 2, my morning ritual will mean getting up at 4:55 a.m. when he does (wait! before you write me off as some insane rooster lady, know that you can sleep until 8:00 a.m. and be successful too! I’m just much more inclined to get things done in the morning than the afternoon so this structure works best for us.  Afternoon Julie makes as many bad decisions as Hungry Julie).

From 5:00-6:00 a.m., I sit at my kitchen table and fill my mind with positivity.  I’m starting a new 5 minute devotional with my bestie in Colorado so I’ll begin with that, then move to my Bible, my journal (or book I might be reading), then finish with my 24 hour plan in my planner.  So, by 6:00 a.m., I’ve prepared my mind and my schedule for what lies ahead.

Your Workday Startup Ritual and Workday Shutdown Ritual are important too.  Even if you are working inside the home taking care of your kiddos all day, there are still processes you can put in place to be your most successful self.  The very first thing on my Workday Startup Ritual is to make up my bed first thing.  Having an organized, peaceful bedroom is important to me and must be done before any other task. Then I put on my workout clothes and head down to my home gym area in the basement to sweat.

An example of my Workday Shutdown Ritual is making sure my e-mail inbox is back to zero EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.  It brings me so much peace to know I’ve at least written back “Thanks for reaching out.  I’ll be sure to take a closer look at this tomorrow and get back to you soon.” to EVERY person who reached out to me that day.  Again, this is all very personal so don’t think your process needs to look like mine.  I’ve been working on changing my habits for a solid year now.  You know my motto, START WHERE YOU ARE!!  image5I think the Evening Ritual is almost more important than my Morning Ritual.  Because if the Evening Ritual wasn’t done well, I’ve already sabotaged my morning.  For me, my Evening Ritual is always the same.  After dinner, I clean up the kitchen and wipe down all countertops.  I start the dishwasher.  I prep the coffee pot and set the morning timer (waking up to hot coffee is one of life’s greatest joys to this caffeine-loving-Mama!), clear off my kitchen table (where I’ll do my Morning Ritual) and make sure the living room is tidy.  If any of these steps is missed, Sleepy Julie (who is just as untrustworthy as Hungry Julie or Afternoon Julie) will think of a million reasons to skip writing out her 24 Hour Plan and/or doing her workout.  She sucks,is highly-unmotivated and cannot be trusted so I plan ahead the night before:) ALSO, going to bed too late is KRYPTONITE to my Morning Ritual.  I love sleep like a I loved the #1 CFA meal and my firstborn.  If I don’t get 7 hours of solid sleep, Sleepy Julie will rear her ugly head and beat Morning Julie into submission.  Seriously, not getting enough sleep kills the next morning so I just have to accept that staying up after 10 p.m. is a terrible, terrible idea Monday-Friday. image2

The beginning of each quarterly planner asks you to take time to set Annual Goals.  Last year, mine included “Organizing the Garage” (it was a HOT MESS and took us 2 months to complete!!!), “Planning a family trip around Christmas” (we went to the Biltmore Estate and through my favorite NC mountain towns and had the best time!!), “Lose 20 pounds”, etc.  These are bigger, long term plans but there is power in seeing your goals on paper.

When we worked through paying off all credit card debt a few years ago, we wrote down our plan and it made all the difference! Seeing “Pay off Chase CC by March” and checking it off a list was SO empowering! That momentum carried us into paying off the next credit card then the next one until that annual goal was achieved.  WRITE DOWN YOUR GOALS.  You will be shocked at the power a written plan truly has.

And please remember, your 24 hour plan won’t be perfect.  It’s just like pulling an arrow back and aiming in a certain direction.  Sometimes it flies fast and straight and you hit the target LIKE A BOSS. And sometimes, it flies totally sideways and lands in your neighbors’ yard.  Oh well.

God is so patient, kind and forgiving with us.  Be that kind to yourself when your plans don’t always go perfectly.  Tell that Mean Girl just to back up. That the beauty of the 24 hour plan- with each new sunrise, we get a chance to try again.  I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again…. THOSE WHO ACHIEVE LONG TERM SUCCESS AREN’T THE ONES WHO DO THINGS PERFECTLY.  THEY ARE THE ONES WHO REFUSE TO QUIT AND KEEPING GETTING BACK UP AFTER EVERY FAILURE.

And then, 12 months later of aiming that arrow mostly in the right direction, you just might be surprised at how much changed you accomplished in one year.  LET’S GET STARTED!!!!

Also, be sure to send me your e-mail address.  I’ll be sending out more info to those who subscribe to the list AND offer individual coaching plans too later in January.  I’d love to cheer you on.