eating mcdonalds french fries

How my love of fast food, pizza and ice cream helped me unleash my creativity

How I’m using food to build a better ‘me’ in 2017…

Everyone leads a busy life in one way or another, and my life is no different. 

2016 was a year where I felt all over the place in my life with no consistency and I just needed something to set in and ground me. In my case, it was a food blog I had started years ago but hadn’t kept up with posting – it’s called Danielle’s Dish.

My blog had started out as what I like to call a ‘joke’ at work back in 2014. Apparently I was sharing a lot of commentary with my co-workers about the foods I love to eat – Olive Garden, Taco Bell, and McDonald’s to name a few. I like to say I am the ‘anti-foodie” since I REALLY enjoy fast food, chain restaurants and the simple pleasures in life such as pizza. My friends and colleagues told me that I should blog about what I eat, so I did… creating my blog that year.

eating pizza - unleash your creativity

My blog was not very advanced, but it was perfect for the purpose of a new hobby to offer consistency and balance in my life. The site was built via Blogger, and if I ever needed to ‘code’ anything, I knew I could find all of that information on Google. I also figured out how to integrate my Instagram posts into the site, which was an accomplishment for me.

Danielle’s Dish was strong for about 3 months… I was posting my food reviews and pictures multiple times a week.

But then life happened. 

I got engaged and my husband and I moved out of the city to a house that changed my commute from 30 minutes to 1.5 hours each way. We had work to do on the house and due to finances we did the initial work ourselves. 

All of this homeowner stuff was new to me. We also adopted a puppy and on top of all that, we were planning a wedding. And then there was Danielle’s Dish, sitting on the back burner where it stayed for 3 years.

But Danielle’s Dish came back in 2017. Here’s why:

I learned that I needed a hobby to occupy my time that felt consistent AND manageable.

laptop on floor - unleash your creativity

2017 is the first year where I don’t have to worry about wedding planning, and if you’ve gone through wedding planning you know there’s a lot to do (plus I was always wedding crafting because I made my own wedding place cards and table decorations). From my experience, I learned that going from something that takes up all of your time to none of your time makes you feel like you have nothing to do once it’s all over. 

I was at a loss because I didn’t have a use for my creativity or something to keep me on deadline. 

That’s where my blog came back in. It forced me to keep up with new fast food trends, understand what was going on in the Chicago food scene, and got me out of my comfort zone to go to new neighborhoods where I can find, for example, lemonade drinks that are served in lightbulbs. 

I also made a goal to myself to post on Danielle’s Dish once a week. Previously I posted on Danielle’s Dish multiple times a week and that didn’t work so well. I learned that by taking a step back and making a manageable goal, I can take baby steps on my side project and eventually come to post on Danielle’s Dish multiple times a week.

While my blog is just for fun now, it allows me to think about its future and the long term potential.

Danielle’s Dish isn’t making money right now. Actually, I’m just SPENDING money since I’m buying all of the food I review. But the great thing is Danielle’s Dish COULD make money in the future, so that’s something I’ve thought about when it comes to my little side project and I’ve learned to embrace this potential. Maybe in the future I’ll start advertising on Danielle’s Dish. Maybe I’ll start video reviews. Maybe I’ll expand beyond the fast food / chain restaurant / desserts spectrum and review other types of food. 

One little side project (no matter how small) can have a load of potential.

I get a lot of enjoyment from the food I like to eat, but I need to think about my health too.

Sure, a majority of the foods I blog about aren’t healthy. Sure, I have some vices that I need to fix, such as not drinking soda in the morning before I take the train to work (and not having coffee once I get to work). However, eating what I want to eat is enjoyable to me and something I look forward to during lunch and dinner. At the end of the day, I, as well as anyone else, shouldn’t be eating like I do when it comes to long term health, so I’ve learned that I need to take a larger look at my health and greater well-being. 

In January, I joined a gym that does interval training classes. My goal is to do a class every weekend. Surprisingly, that’s been manageable and I’ve been doing it consistently. 

I’ve been incorporating more fruits and veggies into my diet thanks to a husband who is taking strides in the right direction toward healthy eating. While the BBQ ranch salad I’ve tried isn’t as good as a hot dog, I guess it’s passable once in awhile 🙂

I’ve learned that having something consistent that you enjoy doing does amazing things for you.

It helps keep you on a schedule. It provides potential for the future and it allows you to pass the time by being productive.

I have a goal for you: find your own Danielle’s Dish.

Danielle Donlon does digital ad sales by day, and hangs with her husband and their dog Pants at night.  Reach her at Danielle’s Dish or on her Instagram @daniellesdishgram.