#FightingForFood: Phase Out the Junk

So we've started eating more by adding in healthy, filling, wholesome foods! New habits have been established, you feel satisfied by your meal choices and are able to get through your workouts. For some people, that's enough--and that's fine! If you want to stop there, I'd pat you on the back and say job well done for adding something beneficial to your life. 

However, if part of your goal is to either lean out or increase your performance, you can take it to another level: removing less than ideal foods or habits from your life. 

Keep in mind that "unhealthy" and "healthy" are defined completely by YOU. Sometimes, when I've had a stressful day, I drink a diet Dr. Pepper because it makes me feel good. I'm keeping that habit because I know it works for me: I don't finish the DDP and spiral into other behaviors that don't support my goals like snacking on candy. But when that 3pm candy craving does come (and I know it will)? I make an effort to bring healthy snacks that I can grab instead because I know that eating too much candy doesn't line up with my personal healthy goals.*** 

***RANT--Let's talk health goals for a minute: you will NOT hear me say or see me write "good habits" or "bad habits". Good and bad are both wildly subjective and connotative of worth. This isn't about your worth, it's about creating a lifestyle that is in line with your personal health goals, whatever those may be. But to me, habits and goals do NOT need labels or some level of guilt or superiority tied to them. So figure out what YOUR version of healthy and unhealthy is by reflecting on what things make you feel healthy and in control and moving towards your goals and what things don't. End of rant***

#FightingForFood: Add in Healthy Foods

Guideline numero dos in the female athlete nutrition series : add in the good stuff. 

Just like eating more, I think the best way to supplement your new or current workout regimen is by giving yourself MORE TO RUN ON.

So instead of starving yourself (or the opposite, eating 3 juicy, burgers and calling it a day) start to add in healthy food!

ronswanson.gif

Make one healthy habit your only nutritional focus. Maybe that's eating greens at every meal. Maybe that's adding in more fiber to your diet. You could start buying one new vegetable every week and learning new ways to cook it. Whatever you decide, don't take anything else away. ADD IN something healthy before you take away something less healthy. 

The key is to not feel like you're depriving yourself of the things you currently enjoy and start to add in NEW, healthy things that you also enjoy. 

REAL LIFE EXAMPLE: herbs. Fresh herbs are powerhouse foods. Cilantro helps rid the body of heavy metals, parsley helps balance hormones, basil fights inflammation, oregano (especially oregano oil) is a powerful anti-fungal and the list goes on and on. 

I've recently committed to adding in fresh herbs just a couple times a week. Adding them to smoothies, salad, cooked meats, with beans, whatever the situation calls for! No need to take something until adding in fresh herbs is second nature, something that I naturally do on a consistent basis. Once that's an establish part of my nutrition, I'll reevaluate my habits and see what isn't benefiting me as much as everything else. 

Keep is simple and keep it consistent, those are the keys to improving health and creating a way of eating that is both beneficial and second-nature!

#FightingForFood: Eat More

The first facet of guidelines: EAT MORE.

Pre and post workout foods for women who exercise

In my own experience as an athlete and as a former calorie-obsessor, I've found that women who exercise or are starting to exercise benefit greatly from increasing their calories in a couple places: namely, by adding in a pre and post workout meal.

These aren't your lunch and dinner--they're special workout snacks, made just for you and your newfound exercise (or existing exercise program if you're already an avid worker-out-er (pretending that's a word)).

Read carefully, I am NOT saying that you need to start eating 3000 calories a day and giving yourself the green light to destroy the fridge every night. 

What I AM saying is that if you already burn X amount of calories per day based on your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). Check yours out here: Find out my BMR!

So what is your BMR? That's how many calories it requires you to BE ALIVE. Not doing things, not walking around, and definitely not exercising! Quoting BodyBuilding.com because it's perfect:

Your BMR is the number of calories your organs need to function while you perform no activity whatsoever. You can think of it as the amount of energy you’d burn if you stayed in bed all day.

Based on my height and weight, I need roughly 1600 calories just to exist. I use that as a starting off point. At no point should I be eating LESS than that if my goal is to be able to make it through the day and especially if I want to make it through my workouts! 

Next up, you can figure out how much you burn: Find out how many calories I burn! 

Again, based on this calculator, I burn roughly 2000 a day. Obviously that number is not perfect, some days I'll burn more and some days I'll burn less. 

Since my goal is to maintain my weight, I try and eat at or around 2000 calories. Now, if you're eating a whole foods, plant based, lean meats and healthy fats kind of diet, that takes a LOT of food to get to 2000 calories! 

But since we're focusing on just adding in a pre and post workout meal, here are some easy and healthy food combinations to try! If you track calories, see how you feel adding in one meal or both. The key here is to be patient and consistent and keep track of what works and what doesn't for YOUR body. 

Pre-workout

I find that I need to eat about 2 hours before I work out--any less and I'll feel sick, any longer and I'll be hungry. Your window could range from as long as three hours before to only 30 minutes. Play around with timing and see what makes you feel your best during a workout! 

My favorite pre-workout snacks:

  • Oatmeal with protein powder, flaxseeds, chia seeds and pumpkin seeds
  • Banana with 1tbsp of sunbutter on a piece of Ezekiel toast
  • Small sweet potato with about 2oz of chicken or tuna 
  • A Clif Protein bar
  • Belvitas and a protein shake (NOT the healthiest option, but when I have nothing else on hand, these are an amazing energy source to have an hour before I workout)

Find the combination of carbs to protein to fat that works for you; ideally, you want this to be a more protein/carb focused meal with a little bit of fat. 

Post-workout

Now, depending on the time of day that you workout, your post-workout meal might coincide with dinner or breakfast. If that's the case, I would urge you to eat something small within 45 minutes of finishing your workout and then eat your next meal. It may take some getting used to, and maybe it just doesn't work for you, but if your goal is to have enough energy to workout, it's important to make sure you're feeding your body enough energy sources. 

Easy post-workout meals:

Keep it simple! Don't stress about eating the perfect portion of protein to carbs to fat, just eat! Eat enough to feed your body.

A couple good indicators that you're currently not eating enough:

  • You feel muscle fatigue quickly during your workouts
  • Your muscles become too fatigued to finish the workout 
  • You get faint or lightheaded during your workouts
  • You feel hungry (this sounds like common sense, but trust me, it's not)

And that's enough to get you started!

If you have questions, things that work for you, foods you like, share them in the comments! 

Female Athlete Nutrition

Lately, I've been getting a lot of questions from friends and on instagram about nutrition! I kept putting this off, not because I didn't want to write it, but because I just didn't know where to START. 

I am obsessed with nutrition, reading about it, thinking about it, trying out different foods, experimenting with when and how I eat, macros and calorie counting, intuitive eating. You name it, I've tried it. 

So, I'm going to break this up into a series called #FightingForFood! Mostly because I love alliteration :) You can follow these posts on instagram as I'll be sharing links to the blogs and some quick thoughts via instagram over the next week. 

To kick things off, here are the 5 overarching nutritional guidelines for women exercise. Either those who want to start exercising or are currently involved in moderate to heavy exercise on a regular basis. Those may sound like totally different groups, but I've found that while they're at opposite ends of the workout spectrum, women starting out have difficulty knowing where to start with nutrition and women who are already active have a tendency to plateau. In my experience, these guidelines have worked for both parties. 

So for women thinking about changing their diet or women who have plateaued and need to try something new, here are my five guidelines! 


Eat more

That is not a typo. That is an almighty command from yours truly. When it comes to weight loss, the most basic, run-of-the-mill trainer will tell you, "Just eat less and move more." That's waaaaaay too simplified an approach IMO. So many women start working out and think they also need to slash their calories in half. But now, you've increased your metabolism AND given yourself less food?! Do you see why you come home and destroy the fridge after your workouts?! Or why you've plateaued and can't seem to break through? So the key is eating just enough to be in a caloric deficit or if your goal is to maintain, eating just enough to keep your physique in homeostasis (a faAaAancy science word for stable). 

Add in Healthy Foods

Just like eating more, I think the best way to supplement your new or current workout regimen is by giving yourself MORE TO RUN ON. So instead of starving yourself (or the opposite, eating 3 juicy, burgers and calling it a day) start to add in healthy food! Make one healthy habit your only nutritional focus. Maybe that's eating greens at every meal. Maybe that's adding in more fiber to your diet. You could start buying one new vegetable every week and learning new ways to cook it. Whatever you decide, don't take anything else away. ADD IN something healthy before you take away something else. 

Phase out the junk

Nooowww we take out the bad stuff. You're eating more and healthier foods because you've been adding them into your diet. But perhaps you've still got that 3pm-candy-bowl-and-diet-coke habit (guilty as charged)? The next think to do to help you with your nutrition journey is find ways to swap out unhealthy habits for healthier ones. Keep in mind that "unhealthy" and "healthy" are defined completely by YOU. Sometimes, when I've had a stressful day, I drink a diet Dr. Pepper because it makes me feel good. I'm keeping that habit because I know it works for me. But my 3pm candy habit? I make an effort to bring healthy snacks that I can grab instead because I know that eating too much candy doesn't line up with my personal healthy goals. 

Play with Carbs

Ignore what your parents said. Play with your food. And the best kind of food: CARBS. My love for carbs runs deep and pure. I will say that I am not a ketogenic promoter. If it works for you, then heck yes! Run with it! It hasn't for me, so I cannot, with good conscience, say that it works. What has worked is eating more carbs in order to meet the needs of my workouts. Adding in healthy carbs is an easy way to start eating more. You can basically knock out the first two guidelines with this one. Oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, potatoes (yeah, I mean sweet AND regular potatoes), beans and other starchy vegetables are amazing sources of energy! Expirement with when, how much, and what kind of carbs you eat and notice how your body responds, both during your workouts and in your day to day activities. 

Increase your Protein

This is actually the last guideline listed for a reason. I am an athlete; I purposefully consume a lot of protein to maintain lean muscle mass. However, there was a point in my life where I could NOT eat the same amount of protein that I can now without looking like the Hulk (no offense to the Hulk, just not my preferred aesthetic). I had to slowly increase my protein intake, over years! So start by eating more protein at one or two meals, you don't have to buy chicken in bulk and eat 8oz at every single meal. Protein does help you stay full for longer and it keeps your blood sugar in check, so eating a protein-rich snack when you're feeling sluggish or starting your day out with eggs instead of a granola bar may be a good place to start. 


I will be writing FULL blogs about each of these topics and sharing snippets of info on each on instagram. If this is something you're interested in, be sure to follow on Instagram and if you know someone who might be interested, share it with them now! 

Life in Lessons: First Quarter of 2018

In the buh-business world, we break things down in quarters. Why? Because the quarter is the most powerful cent. Just kidding, I have no idea why, but that's the way I look at the calendar now! 

 Andy Dwyer and I have too much in common. 

Andy Dwyer and I have too much in common. 

So here are a few of the ~life lessons~ I learned from the first 3 MONTHS 😱 of 2018. 

January 

 I have the teal version because, teal is life. 

I have the teal version because, teal is life. 

In January, I bought a new planner called The Desire Map Planner. It takes a different approach to goal setting and challenges you to focus on the feeling that you're after--because in the end, every goal we achieve is really to make us feel a certain way. Proud, accomplished, peaceful, happy, whatever else. So with that in mind, I focused on three feelings core feelings I wanted to pursue in 2018:

Grounded. Connected. Challenged. 

Grounded: in truth, in reality, in possibility. 

Connected: to myself, to God, to my relationships, to my community. 

Challenged: to be more, to be less, to be vulnerable. 

One of the first things I committed to do to help me on this emotional-goal-quest was start a home yoga practice. I began a subscription to YogaGlo last year but really hadn't stayed consistent--until now. Every morning (or evening if the morning was too hectic), I did a 15-30min session. Nothing fancy or long, just something to help me stay consistent. January as a whole ended up being very challenging and grounding, a wonderfully complex (and at times, stressful) combination of emotions and experiences to kick the year off. 

February 

The month in a moment (or two):  "The only way past it is through it." & "The grass is green where you water it."

I rolled into February fixated on happiness. I just want to be happy and feel like what I'm doing MATTERS. Familiar feeling, isn't it? I felt a lot of not so happy feelings that month, but when I looked back on what I'd done, I saw that the only way to truly move past feelings we don't like or thoughts we don't like isn't to ignore them but to experience them fully--and then let them go. It sucks and it's hard, but by letting myself really dig into why I was feeling upset, I saw that it was because I was constantly looking at what everyone else had. And wanting the heck out of it. Hence, in the words of Big Sean, the grass isn't greener on the other side, it's green where you water it. 

March

The month in a moment"Your thoughts create your reality."

That's all I wrote in my planner at the end of March. And that's truly a lesson I learned over and over again. Whether it be a positive or negative spin, how you think about a situation is what the situation becomes. ALL the meaning is what you give it. *Insert transcendental music here* I know, I know. I become more and more of a hippie with every passing breath, but I also feel far more grounded and connected to myself and my relationships because I now understand that perception is reality. 


So without sharing every mundane detail of life, that's what I've gathered so far in this latest year of life! An even quicker recap:

1. Emotional connection is the goal, we can build lives that get us closer to those feelings. 

2. When something is difficult, dig into it, "water" it, and watch it grow into something renewed. 

3. We all live in our own world. Make yours one you actually want to live in. 

 

What have you learned so far this year?

Share below! 

How to Achieve Body Neutrality

Body Neutrality: my latest obsessive thought. I saw this instagram post by @stupideasypaleo (Steph Gaudreau), had to read the whole blog. And then my mind exploded. 

 Post and photo property of @stupideasypaleo 

Post and photo property of @stupideasypaleo 

This. THIS. It's such a healthy and coveted place to be. As of late, I too have found myself in a more neutral state. And while that is completely ground breaking for someone who suffered from eating disorders and body obsession, it dawned on me that the change happened so gradually, so slowly over such a long period of time that I almost didn't realize it happened. 

So then the question becomes how? How did I get to a place of body neutrality? How did I wake up one day and look at myself in the mirror and feel neither hate nor joy? How do I now have more thoughts about living my life than about the container from which I experience it (i.e. this bag of bones)? 

How I've Reached a Place of Body Neutrality (And you can too)

Read about it

I loved Steph's post and fangirled a little when she mentioned having read Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself by Kristen Neff. That book was a game changer for me and a tool that I highly recommend. I would highly, highly recommend finding a resource to help you get started so that way, you always have a tool to refer back to. I'm also a huge fan of Brene Brown; she has a million resources on her website that are a great place to start!

Intentionally practice it

Research and knowledge are the keys to getting started, but the bottom line is that it not only takes time to change your mindset--it takes consistent effort over time. The unglamorous truth is that the only way to improve a skill is to practice it over and over and over and over and over and over (and you get the picture) again, without any real end in sight and with intention.

Pick a single thought pattern to address at a time. For example, if you have a specific body part that you hate, pay attention when you start thinking negatively about it. Instead of replacing that thought with something completely positive (that you may not even believe to be true), follow it up with something neutral. 

Example:

Initial Negative thought: I hate my arms, they're way too big and make me self-conscious. 

Following Neutral thought: My arms are not incredibly skinny but they are also not incredibly large. The more I think about it, they're probably just average. 

It does not have to be something profound or meaningful or groundbreaking. It just needs to be something neutral and true to you. Just focus on one thing at a time, mindfully addressing the negative thought when it comes up and after time, maybe days or weeks or months in your particular case, you'll start automatically thinking about that body part in a more neutral way. 

Meditate 

I don't think it would be a blog post by yours truly if I didn't mention meditation. Giving yourself the space to think about nothing at all frees your brain up to think differently about everything. In no uncertain terms, I can say that meditation has changed the way I relate to the world around me. As always, I suggest Headspace but I've also started using an app called Digipill, where you can download slightly longer, more specific meditations onto your phone to use whenever you like. 

Ask for help

And of course, if you feel like the Shangri-La of body neutrality is just too far away to reach on your own, ask for help! Invite a close friend or relative to join you by holding you accountable, asking how you're doing, or whatever works for you. Another huge breakthrough for me was getting professional help online through BetterHelp, an online counseling platform in which you pay a subscription fee to receive online counseling and tools from a mental health professional. I've used it on and off again, a couple months at a time, for several years now. I can't recommend it enough if you have SO many negative thoughts that change on your own feels impossible. 


Obviously, these are just the things that have worked for me. It's not a comprehensive list, I've done other things along the way, but when I sat down to write this blog these are the four that stuck out to me so clearly in hindsight. 

I'd love to hear if body neutrality is something you're interested in as well and if you found these tools helpful! 

Social Media Circle

Recently, I started following someone I know IRL on Instagram and this person is killing it. They've got followers and this whole beautifully curated life on social media. 

And at first, I thought...wow. I'm a complete failure. Look at their following, look at their pictures, look at this image they've created. 

And that's when it hit me: it's just an image. It's NOT real life. Because in this case, I know what this person's life looks like and they're just like me! So instead of letting that make me feel bad about myself or my own "social media presence", I suddenly felt happy. 

Happy to see that social media is, in fact, NOT REAL LIFE. It's a highlight reel, a brand image, a different version of self, whatever you want to call it but it is not the full picture. There is so much more that we're not seeing.

It's one small piece of whatever beautiful tapestry we want to weave that represents our lives. It's as real or staged as we want it to be, and that's totally fine. 

The danger lies in us forgetting that it's not everything. 

Despite how perfect or interesting someone's life looks, that is not their entire life. We are all wonderfully complex beings with so many layers to our lives, our personalities, our day to day interactions. 

And there is something so unifying in that for me. Seeing a different version of someone I know allowed me to remember that we are multidimensional. 

We are all much, much more than a picture on a screen. 

Learn to love "No"

"That won't work."

"We already have something like that."

"I'm not sure that's what we're looking for."

"No."

How do you react to these statements? Do they break your spirit? They break mine. Over and over and over again, I am continuously faced with the answer: no. It can crush your creative spirit, your will to offer ideas, your desire to improve. 

But it can also be the catalyst for those very things. 

It doesn't happen over night and it doesn't happen by accident. It takes conscious practice and effort to change your innate response to being told no. It takes mindfulness, courage, vulnerability, and patience. But it can be done. 

If it couldn't, I wouldn't be writing this blog. I wouldn't have been inspired to create when I encountered yet another road block. But because I have fallen flat on my face, stumbled over so many other difficulties up until this point, this time I was able to choose a different response. Next time I may sit down and cry and need a pep talk...but not this time. 

It's a messy way to live. It's never perfect. But those sparks of creativity and growth that come from learning to love setbacks and the struggle can become incredibly powerful tools of communication, pieces of art, solutions to problems. 

napoleonhillquote

What comes to mind when you read this? A physical challenge? A relationship? A project you're working on? Whatever it is, just notice it. Don't think about more ways to change or challenge or fight it. Just stay aware. And the next time you're hit with that version of "No", choose to react differently. 

Practice, practice, practice. That's all it is. Learning to love "No" will give you the ability to experience hardships and struggles and only become stronger, more equipped to handle difficulties, and more confident in yourself. 

Food controls my world

Food controls my world. It does. And not in a healthy way. I am constantly thinking about food. How much I can have, when I can have it, what I can and can't have, how much I want those things that I can't have, assigning guilt and reward to food...the list goes on. 

How much of my life has involved wasted emotional and mental energy surrounding food? I shudder at the thought of it. I've shared before that I struggled with eating disorders all through high school. Now, in my late twenties, I realize that I may not be performing the act of an eating disorder, my disordered eating still exists. 

Until we face the root of the problem, we will continue to subject ourselves to a mindset that limits us. I have spent at least 10 years limiting myself to thoughts about food, when really, my desire is so much deeper. Isn't it like that for all of us? It's easy to identify in other people but sometimes it takes years and years of peeling back the layers to get to what we really struggle with. 

And it may not be just one thing. For me, it's so many little things intertwined: my need for control, my fear of abandonment, my fear of inadequacy, my pride. Together they form a dark film through which I see myself and early on in life, locked in on food and body image. 

So instead of putting in the hard, emotional, never-ending work of addressing those underlying fears...I obsess over calories and cellulite and never missing a workout. And my mind and my heart become smaller, less open to explore difficult and challenging topics. 

Ironically, in my quest for more control, I ended up letting food control me...because it was easier than learning how to let go. And I can't be abandoned by food, it's always around. And inadequacy is easier to measure when you just focus on your physical body. And why work on humility when you can demand perfection that you can be proud of? 

While a different context, it makes me think of the Bible verse that talks about pointing out a speck in your brother's eye but having a log in your own. 

It is much easier to see what other people use at crutches, just like my own. And when it comes to other people, the only thing I've ever experienced when sharing my own struggles...is compassion. 

Every time I'm brave enough to write or speak about my own struggles, 9 out of 10 people respond with compassion. Why? Maybe because that's the only time we allow ourselves to be kind. 

So instead of challenging you to not point out other people's shields, I challenge us to have the same compassion and gentleness with ourselves. You may not be able to see what's blocking and shaping your current reality...but as we all know, it's there. So be gentle with yourself in figuring out what those underlying fears are. Be open to exploring those feelings and taking whatever steps you need to create a life that gives you more

We are the only ones that limit our reality. And I truly believe that if we allow ourselves to experience the same compassion and kindness that we give to others who are struggling, we can be the ones who set ourselves free

Season of Self-Doubt

Seasons. It always comes back to seasons. Waiting anxiously for one to come and another to go, enjoying the beauty of some and hating the harshness of others. 

And just like nature, we grow in season. Even when we feel like we're shrinking or dying...we're growing. Rupi Kaur's latest book of poems, The Sun and Her Flowers, is a beautiful testament to what seasons of human life truly look like. 

I've been in a season of doubt. A season of dried up creativity, of looking around and seeing everyone else blooming while all my petals fall to the floor. It's been a disheartening season. 

But just like the sun and her flowers, we grow from our own wilting. When we shrink inward, it creates more space for beauty and strength to pour back in. Like the ground in the winter, our capacity to grow and create becomes stalled. But it's not forever. The thing about seasons is that they always come...and they always go. There is no such thing as an eternal winter or summer. 

tattoo.jpg

This is the first photo ever taken of my tattoo, gotten almost 6 years ago when I first moved to California, another very difficult season of doubt and confusion. This, however, is not my quote. C.S. Lewis is to thank for this pearl of wisdom. And when it comes to seasons, this is so true. Even in the best of times, better things are yet to come. And in the darkness of winter, new hope grows beneath the surface. 

There is so much power in being able to recognize that we are not evergreen. Like nature sheds its skin, its petals, its leaves, we must let go of our expectations, our attachment, our obsession with perfection in order to grow. 

And, in God's perfectly created irony and miraculousness, that is in fact how we grow.

Only and always through seasons

So whether you are blooming into spring or in your own version of winter, it will pass. And you will keep on growing, and growing, and growing, through it all. 

10 Miles

Shortly before the end of 2017, I accidentally ran 10 miles.

A couple things may come to mind, like, what? And, why? And, how the heck do you do that "on accident"?

All valid questions. And on that note, many people run that distance regularly. I am not one of them. I do not run. I have not run more than 3 miles in a very, very, VERY long time. 

But on this fateful Friday afternoon, I decided to take my dog on a run. It had been a stressful week (month/year/lifetime) and I immediately felt the tension dissipating the further I ran. 

So I ran. And I ran. And I ran. 

And all of the sudden...I came to the end of the trail. 5 miles from where I'd started. 

I was elated! I couldn't believe I'd run that far! 

But then...the realization and subsequent panic hit: I HAVE TO GO BACK. I AM AN ACTUAL IDIOT.  

To add to my stress, I had somewhere I needed to be and it had taken me a good 50 minutes to get this far and I needed to be ready to go in an hour. AND THEN MY PHONE DIED.  What had begun as a de-stressing run turned into the biggest stressor yet, and I was in full-on panic mode. 

So I started my journey back, but now fueled by anxiety, much faster. It was getting dark, I had to get home, my phone was dead, my dog was getting tired. I was freaking out. 

"I can't do this by myself. I need to borrow a stranger's phone and call someone to come get me. I'm not going to be able to make it. My lungs aren't going to hold up."

SO many thoughts were racing through my head, a mixture of fear, stress, embarrassment for getting myself in this situation, you name it. 

But I kept going. One foot after the other, puffing my inhaler a time or two, breathing in with the rhythm of my feet pounding on the dirt path, calmly reassuring myself every time one of those thoughts popped up: "You can do this on your own."

And something amazing happened: I made it home. Completely on my own. (Shout-out to my dog for being there but let's be honest, he left me in the dust.)

The entire experience was so beautifully poetic. So often we think that someone is coming to save us. That we have to be saved from whatever situation we're in. And maybe we are lucky enough to have someone (or a furry companion) by our side, cheering us on, but at the end of the day, we are the ones who have to put one foot in front of the other. We are the ones who can carry ourselves through the finish line. 

Because we can. No one has to save you because you can see to your own success. It may feel impossible and overwhelming and downright scary, but it can be done. If you work hard and believe in yourself -- anything is possible

Even 10 miles ;) 

Fear Tactics Used in Health and Wellness

Fear Tactics Used in Health and Wellness

There are so many fear and scare tactics used in the health and wellness space. As consumers, we need to remember that at the end of the day, our HEALTH is our responsibility and no gadget, pill or "plan" will make you live forever or cure you of illness. Talk to REAL DOCTORS to get the real tests and plans of action you feel you need and not solely based on what someone is trying to sell you. 

Recharge Recap

This is a first for me! Not just taking time off, but taking intentional time off to do more than rest my body. Obviously the idea of recovery days are nothing new, but after doing a new strength training program for 5 weeks, I decided it was time to take a week off to recharge. Not just "not work out", but actively invest in destressing my body and mind to actually get the benefits of all the work I've been putting it through, both mentally and physically. I swapped my intense training for activities to make me feel mentally and physically refreshed, recharged and re-centered. 

But I decided to take it a step further; I took an entire weekday to take care of myself in the way that works best for me. And it was a game changer. 

I read a definition that says self-care can be either a treatment for a current illness or an act to improve health. I used to only participate in the type of self-care that resulted after a grueling day (cue glass of wine and a hot tub). I never experimented with preventative self-care. 

So I decided to take a personal day. I've been stressed, but not run into the ground stressed. All in all, life is at a high point right now and I'm able to juggle most things fairly easily on most days. So why take the day? 

To stay that way. To ensure that I'm taking steps to stay in this peak of high functioning productivity and happiness for as long as I can. Because everything is temporary and we will all have times in life where it becomes truly overwhelming. So, maybe, if we take steps to promote a healthy mind and body when we're at our best, we can more easily carry that mindset over when we're struggling. 

Everything takes practice, including taking care of ourselves. If we only do so when we're not feeling our best, how are we supposed to expect ourselves to get better?

Now, self-care will look 100% different for everyone. I realized not everyone can drop the dime for a facial or massage, but I received a gift card for my birthday that I fully intended on cashing in on.

I spent Wednesday night getting a much needed facial, followed by a full body massage and holy cow. Did I feel relaxed. I was basically radiating peace and joy and rainbows. It was AMAZING! 

I'm interested: What is your version of self-care? Does it matter to you? Does it seem too entitled or narcissistic? There's definitely mixed opinions on the popularity currently surrounding self-care. Let me know in the comments! 


I hope you enjoyed this post! Subscribe to my newsletter so you can Join the Journey as I work and write about my goal to become a world-class fighter. 

Finding Your Voice

So, I'm literally mute right now. Like I can't even whisper. Apparently I screamed "FREEDOM" too loudly all fourth of July weekend and I busted my whole voice box into red, white and blue confetti. And now, I am silent. 

It was funny for the first 2 interactions of the day, but after 8 hours of just sitting and nodding and smiling and pantomiming, I'm over it. I want my voice. 

Which, being someone who lives entirely in my own thoughts, made me think: how many people have lost their metaphorical voice? More importantly, how do you get it back?? 

I should define what I mean by "voice" in this particular instance: Your voice is your natural way of showing up in the world, if no one else had any say in how you do it. Would you be pensive and quiet? Would you be sharp and quick-witted? Would you be silly and exuberant? These are all completely valid voices to have--if they're true to who you are. 

But as we get older, we get jobs, we experience failure, we protect ourselves from heartbreak, we adapt to our current reality and somewhere along the way, we lose bits and pieces of who we started out as. And while it's incredibly important to grow, I think it's just as important to check in and ask ourselves, am I different now because I want to be or because I thought I had to be? That is the key difference between becoming the person you want to be and becoming the person you think you have to be. 

Take it from someone who was so terrified of being forgotten that she took control in every situation, regardless of wanting to or not. I thought I had to be in charge to be loved or to be heard. Now I understand that I just have to be my weird, emotional, intelligent self and success, happiness and love will always follow. 


Learn about Thyself

Yeah yeah, we are all unique flowers, but also, you fit into a category. And so do I. Take some time to understand how you interact internally and externally with the world around you. Everyone has heard of the Myers-Brigg personality test; 16 Personalities is a free site to get some serious insight into your own behavior. While Myers-Brigg is more focused on how you interact with others, my personal favorite is the Enneagram quiz. It takes a look at your inner workings and how you process thoughts on a deeper level. Neither test are incredibly long and you get some great insight into things you may have forgotten or never known about yourself!

Over the course of 10 years, I've gone from an ENTJ to an ENFJ to now, an ENFP. This simply means that as I've gotten older, I've become more and more emotional, creative and open with people. And while there are two part of myself that have never changed (extraverted and intuitive), I love the person I've chosen to become, based on my life experiences and environment.

So see where you're at now and take these again in a year from now to see how/if you've changed and assess if that's where you want to be. 

Choose your Reactions

I've read a thousand times over that the only thing we can control in life is our reaction to it. Now that you've taken a step back to really take a look at how you're currently responding to the world around you, CHOOSE if that's how you want to keep showing up! In my transformation to a more emotionally open person, I became TOO open and volatile. I had to learn how to reign that back in and respond to circumstances in ways that didn't send me totally into the deep end. And while I know emotionality is deeply rooted in who I am, I don't hide it because it makes some people uncomfortable and I don't let it consume me when I don't want it to, as best I can at least. 


While I did not choose to get full blown laryngitis, I think we can all agree that we've felt voiceless or like we're showing up like someone else or how someone else wants us to. 

Take back your voice. Learn about who you are right now and decide if that's who you want to keep being. 


I hope you enjoyed this post! Subscribe to my newsletter so you can Join the Journey as I work and write about my goal to become a world-class fighter. 

The Dangers of the "Cheat Meal" Mentality

We have ALL heard of a "cheat meal". And the internet is overflowing with opinions on when/if/how/why you should or shouldn't eat a cheat meal. 

It's overwhelming. I will always preach doing what works for you. In my experience as an athlete with a history of eating disorders and anxiety, I've found that cheat meals are a dangerous game for me to play. And it's not the meal itself that's the problem. 

As with all things in life, it's my thoughts and subsequent behaviors that stem from the ever-so-attractive cheat meal. 

I read a great article on Mind Body Green about someone who had lost weight using some particular thought patterns. Great read, check it out here. Here's the bit that got me thinking:

"Understand something: Cheat meals are not bad. There is plenty of support for indulging once in a while. The problem emerges when a 'cheat meal' becomes our reason for indulging whenever we want. (...) We get consumed with the fear of missing out, so the 'cheat meal' becomes our lifeline."

Maaaaan oh man, can I related to that! When I was cutting weight, I would literally watch HOURS of videos of food being made. (Thank you, Tasty.) It was an unhealthy obsession because I had deprived myself so hard for so long that I was literally fantasizing about "cheat food".

The cheat meal became my idol, my goal, my all encompassing hope at the end of this weight loss journey. 

Who wants to live like that??? When a single meal or food hijacks your thoughts and behaviors (think: killing yourself at the gym so you can "justify" that slice of pizza), you may be going down a dangerous path. 

Healthy romantic relationships typically have a zero cheating policy. Yet, in the most important relationship we have--the one between our body and our mind--we encourage cheating. To me, that signifies a serious problem. 

So here is my two-cents, take it for what it's worth: pay attention to your thoughts and behaviors surrounding "cheat meals". Do they help you feel refreshed and able to stay on track with your healthy lifestyle? I genuinely hope so and if they do, continue on! Do they leave you feeling depressed or obsessive about correcting your calories or punishing yourself for eating more than you had intended? Then maybe it's time to reevaluate your game plan. 

Moderation in daily life has can be far more sustainable than the all-or-nothing mentality, which I am 100% programmed to fall back on. But allowing myself to remove labels from food, not calling something good vs. bad, and just focusing on my nutrition and overall happiness has allowed me to really enjoy food. No cheat meals, no guilt, no punishment. Just a healthy, happy relationship with my body and with my (frequent) meals. 

I'd love to know what works for YOU! Let me know in the comments below!


I hope you enjoyed this post! Subscribe to my newsletter so you can Join the Journey as I work and write about my goal to become a world-class fighter. 

Mindfulness & Meditation for Beginners

Meditation and mindfulness. They are literally all the rage. Something that used to be SO out there is now written about and even promoted in corporate America because the truth is, it works. 

I've been practicing mindfulness every day, 10-15 minutes a day, for over a month. Even I'm shocked. 

So what's the big deal about meditation and mindfulness? Are they the same thing? 

Yes and no. Let's see here:

  • Meditation: the art of letting go, a sense of non-focus (because that sounds easy, right?)
  • Mindfulness: a form of meditation, focused awareness on a single object or activity, brining your awareness to the present moment  

If "Meditation" is the umbrella term, "Mindfulness" is just one of the many methods that fall underneath it to reach that ever-elusive "meditative state". 

Breathing exercises, mantras, walking meditations, visualization, object-focused meditation (starting at a flickering flame or a calming image) are all techniques and methods that can help you reach a meditative state. 

What is this meditative state? A quiet mind. That just means that, even if it's only for a brief moment, you aren't thinking. Your mind is quiet, your thoughts aren't the focus of your mind. 

Meditation is about realizing that our thoughts are not the same as our mind. 

Let that sink in for a moment because it honestly blew my mind (ha!) the first time it truly registered. But all I know are my thoughts! How could my mind be anything more than just a canister for the barrel of monkeys that are my thoughts?! 

Your mind is expansive and mysterious. As a Christian, I think that we're molded after an unexplainable God. And I think that, in His humor, He made parts of us unexplainable too.

Scientists and psychologists are truly diving into the power of mindfulness and meditation now and the facts are incredible. Check out these 20 reasons to meditate. 

Also, 8 science backed facts that happen to your brain when you meditate. 

And as always, I am a huge proponent of Headspace, but there are so many apps available. Find one that works for you and experience the benefits of meditation!


I hope you enjoyed this post! Subscribe to my newsletter so you can Join the Journey as I work and write about my goal to become a world-class fighter. 

Who's your competition?

How do you not compete in a competitive sport?

It's a counter intuitive thought. Many people, even trainers and athletes, are firm believers that you need to think about your opponent and train harder than them. Be better than them. Fuel your fire with the thought of them winning out. 

But for me, at the end of the day, that fire will die. It's easy to get caught up in the notion that everyone is our competition, especially as a female athlete. Women are already taught to see other women as a threat, add in literal competition in sports and you have a complex web of potentially inhibiting thought patterns. 

I am easily intimidated by other women. I have a very fragile sense of self and when I think another woman is going to be better at me than something, I snap. And I'm very confident that I'm not the only female who has those thoughts. We could feel them about different things, but the notion of comparison and the need to prove yourself are still there. 

Instead of seeing other female athletes as my competition, what if I saw only myself? Even when I step into the ring, I'm not trying to be better than the other person. I'm trying to be better than I've been before. 

If I'm wrapped up in what my opponent is doing, I'm not thinking about my own game. My strategy. My strengths. The same can be applied in life. 

If you're focused on someone else's growth or talent, how can you maximize yours? 

When you only compete with yourself, you get better. When you only compete with others, you stall. You never reach your full potential because your potential is being limited by someone else. 


Set measurable goals

This is a surefire way to truly become better than you've ever been. Set measurable goals and track your growth over a period of time. Don't leave improvement of any kind up to chance or someone else's timeline or numbers. 

See other women as a source of inspiration, not a threat

It happens. You see a woman on IG or IRL and you feel that pang of comparison; she has something you feel that you lack. Let that inspire you, not threaten you. I used to (and occasionally still do) feel so intimidated by women that were better at certain sports or stronger than me. Now I try to gravitate towards them; I want to learn from them, be inspired by them and become better in my own way. Collaboration and inspiration take you further than comparison and intimidation. 

Surround yourself with likeminded people

We all have to live a life that's true for us; if comparing yourself to others truly gets you the results you want, do that! But if it doesn't, try something new. And if this is an entirely new way of thinking for you, seek out individuals, whether online or in real life, that share those values. It will be much easier to change your mindset when you have a community of support. 

I highly recommend GRRRL clothing as a place to start. DM me on Instagram if you'd like to join their Facebook group! 

Empowered women empower women; find what ways of thinking truly empower you and pursue them fully! 


I hope you enjoyed this post! Subscribe to my newsletter so you can Join the Journey as I work and write about my goal to become a world-class fighter.