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2023 Year in Review: A Whirlwind of a Year

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That’s a wrap for 2023! Read my 2023 year in review to learn about what happened on the blog, personal updates, and much more. 🙂

2023 Fitness Blog Year In Review Ironwild Fitness

I cannot believe that 2023 came and went the way that it did. (Can you?)

I don’t know about you, but this year has been just sort of BLAH.

Honestly, it has been one of those years that felt like one big struggle after another.

Truth be told, it wasn’t my favorite.

(But that means that 2024 is probably going to be great in comparison, right?)

If you’re curious about what happened around here, let’s take a quick look at the stats before diving a little deeper.

2023 by the Statistics:

Number of Posts Published: 56

Number of Years Certified as a Personal Trainer: 6

Years as a Nutrition Coach: 2

Workout Programs Sold: 11

Number of Nutrition Clients: 3

As you can see, there’s a lot to unpack here. 2023 was a rough year for me on all fronts, and that’s reflected in everything you see here. Let’s take a look at what happened.

January

In January, I started out by doing what I always do.

I sit down to set my goals for the year, create a vision board on Pinterest, and start filling out my favorite accountability planner.

(Well, I usually do this in the last couple of days of December.)

I knew I wanted to do a few major things: increase my blog income, stick to a solid workout routine, and meet my savings and retirement account goals.

But this year was a little different because I also decided to go back to school (a decision made back in October) and was on track for a January start date.

I never did finish my Bachelor’s degree, and after nearly 9 years of being a stay-at-home mom, I felt like it was time.

My kids were finally both going to be in school starting in the Fall of 2023, so if I could make it through the first half of my degree with a kiddo or two by my side, then I would finish while both kids were in school.

I’m on track to finish my Bachelor’s degree in Business Management in April of 2024!

Can I get a whoop whoop?!

Anyway, January is always an okay month for me on a personal and mental/emotional level because I’m always excited about the potential of a new year, and this year it was no different.

My husband and I also celebrated our ten-year wedding anniversary on the Oregon coast, so that was a fun little trip.

2023 Year in Review

However, I am typically fighting pretty bad Seasonal Affective Disorder by this time of year, so I really tried to lean into all of the exciting things and big changes I had hoped to make.

Even though it was another classic, coastal, and rainy/dark month here in Western Oregon, I pushed through it.

As far as the blog goes, I knew that I wanted to focus on ad revenue this year and the number I was fixated on was $10,000 for the year.

It doesn’t seem like much but I had struggled so much with pageviews in the last two years that I didn’t want to overshoot.

This blog has always been kind of a hobby/side job for me and has never been my top priority. (Though I do love it!)

That being said, I really wanted to focus on more writing and SEO efforts. That meant going back through some of my old posts and rewriting them, a lot of seat time just writing new posts, and refocusing on Pinterest.

As you can see, I came up short when it comes to my ad revenue goal. It’s been pretty discouraging to struggle three years in a row when it comes to traffic and pageviews.

But I am also not going to ignore the fact that I’m in Mediavine (super hard to get into for new bloggers!) and that my business is still making me a steady (though small) income every month.

However, it’s made me realize that I need to diversify my income and start focusing my time and energy on other income-producing activities, which is why later on in 2023, I focused on adding a few products. 🙂

Being that this is a fitness blog, January is actually typically one of my best months as far as income and traffic, but I don’t know, the last two years have been really tough for me over here.

In January, I made $515.66 in ad revenue and only $14.99 in product sales. It was pretty pathetic!

However, being that my primary focus was going back to school this month, I didn’t put too much pressure on myself for the month of January.

February

In February I did a ton of keyword research and was able to update 10 of my super old posts.

When I started this website, it was more of a personal journal and accountability diary for my own fitness journey.

And even though that’s cool and everything, practically no one was reading those original posts because there was no strategy behind the writing.

Back in the day, you could publish a post and create a Pinterest pin for it, and the algorithms would send you traffic. Easy peasy.

You didn’t even need to have any Search Engine Optimization strategies in place to get eyes on your writing.

But a couple of years ago, both Google and Pinterest had updates that made it way harder for fitness bloggers to get “seen.” They even published some info saying that they were going to “ding” people who talked about weight loss or other “body shaming” topics.

(Help!)

And even though I was mostly talking about my personal fitness journey online, I got hit pretty hard.

And I haven’t ever fully recovered.

So anyway, February 2023 was focused on making those old posts more Google and Pinterest-friendly.

But then another small algorithm change hit Google this month and I lost more traffic.

I keep detailed notes of what I’m doing almost every day on my blog in a MASSIVE Google Doc, so I can see exactly what’s changing.

The last thing I wrote for February 2023 was, “February was an incredibly rough month on all fronts.”

Lol. Yeah, it was terrible.

I made even less money with ads in February, although I made $37.98 in program sales. Haha.

Related Reading: How Starting a Blog Got Me Through Postpartum Depression

March

In January I had begun to notice some pretty weird things happening with my body and I finally decided that it was time to go to the doctor.

(My hair was falling out, my skin was oily but also red and flaky, my periods were insanely painful, I was having night sweats, and much more. You can read all about that in this post.)

I continued to have these symptoms in March, but the functional medicine practitioner that I wanted to go to was booked out until May.

I would have just gone to my normal doctor, but I had already tried to talk to her about hormonal issues (which I was pretty certain these were) without any luck.

So, I was dealing with a weird combination of health issues and trying to work out, do blogging things, and be a full-time college student during March 2023.

There was nothing spectacular and interesting for me on a personal front in March, but I do remember desperately praying for some sunshine. Lol.

It had been a dark six months. (November to March are typically pretty dismal in western Oregon.)

I remember swearing that from here on out, I’d be flying to Southern California or Arizona for at least a few days of the winter. What can I say? I’m old!

April

One of the things that I wrote in my journal for April was, “I have been super “sick” for about three months now and I am reminded why I started this.

You see, I originally started Ironwild Fitness because I was struggling so much with my physical and mental health.

When I discovered how great exercise could be for both of those things, I switched over to fitness blogging after “mom blogging” for a couple of years.

I became a personal trainer and nutrition coach after starting this website.

Anyway, I continued to be sick in April and had no desire to see a conventional doctor.

After a lot of research and a bunch of personal experience, I knew that my issues HAD to be related to nutrition, the gut, exercise, hormones, etc.

I wanted to get to the root cause of everything that was happening to me, but I was still in limbo when it came to personal health.

But I continued to write, publish, and study during the month of April in hopes that the sun would soon shine (literally) and I’d come out on the other side.

I kept notes on my physical symptoms in the Notes app on my phone, and here is what I wrote:

“Thinning hair, acne, back acne, night sweats, fatigue, muscle weakness, irritability, general depression, inability to lose weight, greasy hair, itchy scalp, really painful, heavy and dizzy periods.”

Fun, right?

If only I’d known it would get worse before it would get better!

May

In May, I was finally able to get some blood work done and visit the functional medicine practitioner.

Of course, she wanted to tell me to quit eating gluten and dairy. (Which, though it might have helped, felt very unrealistic.)

Rather than doing that, I decided to cut back on those things instead. At least until my bloodwork could come back.

As it turns out, I had a whole bunch of issues that were adding up to this odd combination of symptoms.

As I mentioned, I did write a couple of different posts about what I learned:

In short, I learned that I had low iron, low vitamin D, low testosterone, low DHEA, flatlined cortisol (known as adrenal fatigue), and low “good” cholesterol (HDL).

In addition, I also had high liver enzymes, high bilirubin, estrogen dominance, and high “bad” cholesterol (LDL).

At the end of the day, the combination of these things was making it impossible for me to feel healthy, lose weight, and live how I normally would.

Low iron, vitamin D, and testosterone contribute to low mood, fatigue, and the inability to gain muscle.

The liver issues contributed to my inability to flush or detox from excess estrogen or xenoestrogens. This is likely what caused the painful periods, skin issues, and the retention of weight.

All-in-all, after much research, it was determined that general inflammation and a stressful/unhealthy lifestyle were the general culprits.

Even though I had started out the year trying to eat well and exercise, the stress of adjusting to school and it being winter (I always get low vitamin D in the winter) got to me.

I had stopped working out as much because I was super discouraged, and I was eating more carbs than I probably should have.

I learned a lot about foods and hormones, got on a ton of supplements to help me detox, and kept going.

June

In June, I focused on getting my liver enzymes down and estrogen in check.

The liver thing actually scared me a bit because my uncle and grandfather both died from liver failure in their early 60s.

Although I’m not a drinker like both of them were, I definitely don’t want to be halfway through my life at 32.

Anyway, I continued to have what I *thought* was some acne that just wouldn’t heal (more on that later) and also began to eat a lot of broccoli.

Truly – I learned that cruciferous vegetables are one of the best things you can eat to balance hormones and detox the liver.

So I focused on eating a LOT more cabbage, brussels sprouts, broccoli, and the like.

Meanwhile, on the blog, I did some pretty big stuff in June. Here’s what I wrote in my blogging journal:

“I have been going crazy publishing and updating posts this month. This month so far, I’ve published 5 brand new posts and updated 8 old posts that weren’t getting any traction.”

Looking back, I am glad that I wrote so much because two out of those posts are in top spots on Google and getting me a decent amount of traction as of the last week of December!

However, it didn’t end up being a great month as far as ad revenue. By this time, I knew it wasn’t likely for me to make my ad revenue goal for the year, but I also wasn’t ready to give up.

This blogging thing is a cycle of up and downs, if you can’t already tell!

Related Reading: 141+ Fabulous Fitness Blog Post Ideas (No More Writer’s Block!)

July

July was a pretty fun month – it always is! I love the 4th of July, and I love it even more in a small town.

So the month of July was filled with fun stuff on a personal level. Small-town parades, trips to the river, and of course, my birthday!

My husband absolutely knocked it out of the park for my birthday this year. He took me to Five Pine Lodge in Sisters, Oregon for the weekend and we got to go to a huge music festival in Redmond.

We saw Morgan Wade, Charles Wesley Godwin, Turnpike Troubadours, and many other fun bands!

It was super fun to get away for a while.

Fairwell Music Festival 2023
Fairwell Music Festival 2023

As far as the blog goes, I published four new posts, updated five old posts, and fixed a whole bunch of broken links.

It really is a never-ending game, this blogging thing.

I was super focused on adding length to old posts and updating them to be more meaningful and comprehensive, so that’s what I did.

I also took inventory of what I was doing really well at and not doing so great at.

It basically came down to consistency and email marketing as my biggest flaws.

But one thing I love about blogging is that you can take breaks whenever you need to!

August

In August, I struggled to keep going with it being the end of summer and the kids were still at home. In my blogging journal, I wrote,

“I’m a bit drained from writing all of the time and not seeing results, but I know I can do this – even if it takes time.”

Ha!

Yeah, it wasn’t a great month!

September

In September I caught my second wind and published 8 new articles. Keep in mind, that I am only writing things that are 2,500+ words now.

I would say that from research to publishing, it takes me an average of four hours to write each article. That doesn’t include creating images for Pinterest.

So I was pretty proud of myself for that.

I think this was made possible because the kids went back to school and I could spend more time on the computer, so that was good.

Meanwhile, I was still having quite a few health issues, namely my skin problems which had just gotten worse.

My estrogen seemed to be down because my periods weren’t as painful, but I’m not sure that much else was too different.

By this time, my workouts looked like a 30-minute walk on the treadmill and that’s just about it.

I didn’t have the energy or drive to do much else. (Luckily I didn’t gain weight, but I certainly lost muscle mass this way.)

This really was a bad year for me in terms of health and fitness. But I’ve learned that everyone has ups and downs with fitness, and it’s normal to have a “bad” season in between a few good ones.

October

October was sort of a rough month because my Granny was declining quickly and we knew we didn’t have much time. I personally spent a lot of time going back and forth to see her and help my mom with things.

She eventually passed on a sunny October Sunday (at age 99) and left my grandpa (age 101!) behind.

However, the stress of everything going on had my face inflamed and flared up like nothing I’d experienced so far, and I was VERY uncomfortable at this point.

More on that soon.

In terms of the blog, things just weren’t great. It definitely fell by the wayside. However, here’s what I wrote in my blogging journal in October 2023:

“As I wake up unhealthy and uncomfortable another day, I am reminded of why I started Ironwild Fitness to begin with.”

Every single time that I start to fall off of the wagon when it comes to nutrition and fitness, I am reminded of why I started.

I really need to eat well and exercise to enjoy life.

Period. PERIOD.

Dang.

November

November was the month I FINALLY had enough of my skin issues and went to Urgent Care.

I didn’t want to spend the holidays embarrassed and uncomfortable, and my skin issues had gotten downright painful.

Here is a crappy picture I took while waiting for the doctor to come in:

perioral dermatitis
This is how my perioral dermatitis looked on a good day.

It does NOT do the pain and redness any justice. It was like open wounds and chapped skin and I never want to do that again.

Anyway, the urgent care doc told me to go straight over to a dermatologist.

She put in a request for a last-minute appointment and I then drove over to them to confirm that I had perioral dermatitis.

Both doctors said that I would need some pretty hardcore antibiotics to get rid of it.

Here I was thinking it was just stress acne.

They said they don’t know what causes it, but I think I do now that I’ve done some research.

(My guess is a combination of gut issues and liver inflammation.)

Anyhow, by this time of the year, I had pretty much given up on Instagram, selling workout programs, and taking new clients.

It is what it is, but I definitely want to do better next year!

December

While I managed to squeeze out a few articles in December, it was another rough month.

So rough, in fact, that my blogging notebook has no entries for December 2023.

However, I did spend quite a bit of time ruminating over what I did well at and where I was lacking in 2024.

I started to plan for the New Year in typical fashion and set a bunch of personal, financial, and blogging goals.

Here are just a few of the goals I’m working on in 2024:

  • Lose 20 pounds
  • Walk 10,000 steps at least 300 days of the year
  • Exercise a total of 144 times (minimum) or 3x/week
  • Get to at least 325 blog posts published (from 288 currently)
  • Make $4k more in ad revenue than what I made in 2023

While I didn’t hit all of my goals in 2023, setting goals like this helps me move forward and have something to work on.

I like to break my overall goals down into smaller, bite-sized chunks that are achievable on a monthly and even weekly basis.

This helps me keep pace.

Here’s an example: For the goal to walk at least 10,000 steps 300 times this year, I have it broken down into monthly goals and weekly ones.

In order to achieve this, I calculate that I need to hit 10,000 steps 20 days of the month, or 5 days per week.

I know that if I just focus on taking things one week at a time, it helps me to stay on track and not get overwhelmed.

Anyhow, phew.

What a whirlwind of a year!

I hope you enjoyed reading my 2023 year in review.

Here’s to more blogging, more workouts, and more money! 🙂

-Chantal

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