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 have to 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! 


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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. 


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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!


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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!


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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! 


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Part 1: The Importance of Listening to Your Body

Be a go getter. What are you willing to sacrifice. If it doesn't challenge you it doesn't change you. It doesn't get easier you get better. Go hard or go home. Make your new normal.

I'm getting exhausted just writing these things! These are the things we are inundated with day in and day out about getting in shape, being healthy or any number of things mainstream media tells us we need to do in order to be happy. 

Who has time for easy?

Is it ever okay for something to be easy? For something to be gentle? Not according to many people in the insanely influential and lucrative fitness industry. As an athlete who works a full-time job, supports herself financially, has a relationship, has a fur-baby, occasionally writes these blogs, and attempts to have a social life--I've learned the hard way that it's so critical to find balance. 

The Glorification of Exhaustion

I love intensity. Often times, people think I'm angry or shouting when really, that's just my voice and I'm just loud. Intensity is a part of me and something I am very, very familiar with. A sweet friend recently reminded me that my nature is to go 150% at anything I commit to. While that quality is something pride myself on as a strength, I understand fully how it can also become a detriment to my health and happiness when I let it take over. Take it from me, it is very easy to convince yourself, or require of yourself, that you perform at your very best a level every single day. But, honestly, is that realistic? Or more importantly, is that healthy? That doesn't sound like balance. It sounds a lot like ambition transformed into self-inflicted punishment. 

Why do you think people LOVE pre-made diet and workout plans so much? "So I just eat this or do this exercise every single day and never have to think? SIGN ME UP." We love to take slowing down and deciphering our own needs out of the equation. We love to put parameters on our daily performance. All the coaching and Instagrams and fitness boards on Pinterest and self-help tips in the world are NOT a replacement for listening to your own body. 

My body isn't saying much

Maybe you think the phrase "listening to your body" is 1. weird and way too hippie or 2. completely useless because you don't know what that means or how to do that. Both are fair and reasonably true. Check out Part 2: How to Listen to Your Body for a dive into what that new-age phrase means exactly and some concrete ways to start applying it to your life. If you're sold, feel free to switch over; Part 2 is long but it's good work to put in. However, if you're not convinced that it's important or necessary, keep reading. 

I'm so passionate about this because, by neglecting to listen to my body, I sidelined myself and now I have to deal with the consequences. The very real, physical consequences of relentlessly fighting through illness and injury and stress and lack of sleep and poor nutrition and taking too much pride in my ability to ignore my own needs and intuition. 

So don't be like me. Don't ignore every yawn that was actually a masked cry for more sleep. Don't drive yourself into the ground because you refused to listen and slow down. Don't constantly push yourself to your limits because that's what someone who has an infinitely different lifestyle and actual body than you told you to do. Your health is so wonderfully and beautifully unique. Nothing is one-size-fits-all because that's not how humans were designed. There are similarities, yes, and we can definitely learn from each other and see what works. But that's it; we can learn from each other. Not copy each other.

Are you moving forward or just spinning your wheels?

Part of tuning into what your physical needs are is pausing to ask yourself, "Am I moving closer to my goals or do I feel stalled?" If you're no longer seeing progress, or you're seeing progress but also injuries/sickness/depression/something clearly NOT good, you may need to shift your focus. Put the same work into your recovery, rest and ability to intuitively KNOW what it is that you need so you can make the choice to push through or to rest when you need it. Because the beautiful thing is that it is your choice and no one else's. Meaning the responsibility and privilege of listening to your body falls on YOU. 

The goal is to be able make these important decisions for yourself, not because you think that's what you need to do because someone else said so. They're not you. They don't feel what you feel or move like you move or breathe like you breathe. No one else lives life like you do. Treat your body as special as it is and be willing to try something different in order to get better results at whatever you're working towards. 

Support & Empower

Also, this isn't a free pass to JUDGE the way someone else pushes their body. As athletes and humans, we should encourage each other to listen to our bodies and respect what we hear, individually. Then, collectively, we can strive towards whatever goals we have, stronger than before. We might hear completely opposite things; that's okay. Support each other, challenge each other from a place of love and empowerment, and most importantly, listen and respond to your unique needs. Whether that be taking 6 weeks off to ward of an injury or kicking your training up to two a days! I hope after reading this, you understand the importance of listening to your body and figuring out what you need to be balanced and empowered!


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Product Review: Gaia Adrenal Health Supplements

As someone who deals with varying levels of anxiety on a daily basis, I was VERY interested when I heard about this magical hormone balancing "adaptogenic" herb called "Ashwagandha". 

Mind you, I fully support the use of modern medicine for depression, anxiety and the like; while I have used medication in the past, I have the personal belief that the anxiety I deal with can be healed through holistic and functional medicine. I AM NOT A DOCTOR. Okay? Do your own research, ask questions and figure out what works for you--that's all I've done. 

That being said, after extensive research and shopping around, I found that these hippie pills have WORKED for me. 

I started out just taking Ashwagandha Root from Gaia. After getting through my first month of that, I hadn't noticed massive changes but I wanted to keep going and see if it just needed more time. 

After doing more research, I found their Adrenal Health Daily Support, which has a combination of a number of adaptogenic herbs that are supposed to help balance hormones and regulate moods. In addition, I started taking Adrenal Health Nightly Restore in the evenings to get the full range of herbs. 

Now, I am in my 4th month of consistently taking both the daily and nightly support pills and I feel GREAT! 

adrenaldailysupport
adrenalnightlysupport

What do I mean by great? Let me break it down:

  • No hormonal mood swings 
  • No panic attacks
  • Better, more sound sleep
  • Steady levels of energy throughout the day

Now, I still have anxiety. These supplements are meant to support, not cure. But since in the past two months especially, I've been able to quickly recognize mood changes and though patterns and adjust accordingly. I also used to get horrible, horrible mood swings around my cycle; I have not had a single irrational breakdown since I started taking these. 

I cannot and will not guarantee that you will have the same results. However, if you too suffer from constant or even occasional anxiety, do your research!! Between your brain and your adrenals, anxiety is NOT just "in your head". It is a physiological response to stress and there are ways to improve how you respond to stress, both through mental therapies AND herbal supplementation (and modern medication if that is what works well for you and for your body). 

If you have any questions or have found something that works for you, I would LOVE to hear about it!! This is a huge area of interest for me and I'm happy to share and learn more as I continue down this path of functional, holistic healing. 

Taking Chances

My last fight was war

I could go into every detail of each round, but there's better things to talk about. Before this, my last fight was in October and I spent months mentally and physically preparing. I was in the leanest, strongest and most flexible shape of my life. 

This fight? I was not. I was not lean, strong, fast or flexible. I was out of shape, simple as that. 

While I put my name down early in the year for these charity fights, the chances of finding me an opponent were looking slim. Then, 3 weeks before the fights, I got confirmation: we've found you an opponent. I struggled literally up until the day before whether or not I would take the fight. I had said yes, but all I felt was fear and uncertainty. 

I'm not in shape. I haven't trained for almost 5 months. I'm not mentally prepared. It's 7 hours away. The chance of losing is too high. 

The negative thoughts and doubts and fears were my constant companion. 

Here's the truth: By all of my own standards, I wasn't ready for this fight. But you know what's also true? I needed to take a chance. I needed to risk losing in order to get some incredible insight into my own abilities. 

I have big goals with fighting, not necessarily to be a professional, but to get to a level of athleticism and competition I have never encountered. While I may not have been as ready for this specific fight as I would have liked, this was a critical stepping stone in my journey to becoming a world-class fighter. 

It allowed me to see how I perform when I'm exhausted and my natural tendencies when my stamina runs out. Yes, I technically won. I wasn't particularly proud of how I did, but I was proud of doing it, especially in the face of so much self-doubt.  

Very rarely in life will the circumstances be perfect. More often than not, you will be cast into a situation and feel utterly and completely unprepared. Be brave in those moments. You're right, you may not be as ready as you could be--but never let that stop you. Keep your eyes fixed on your end goal and keep moving forward. Take a chance on yourself, risk your ego or in my case, even injury, to get an honest look at where your strengths and weaknesses truly are. 

Now, I feel the fire; I'm ready to attack my weakness and build upon my strengths. I am now able to move forward in my training with real world insight into what's working and what isn't. I have a battle plan. 

So when you're faced with your next challenge and you're certain you are unprepared--take a chance. Moments like mine, and like many I'm sure you've faced, are incredibly powerful lessons. It takes an immense amount of courage to own our shortcoming, but the reward is always greater than the risk. 


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Choosing The "Right" Opportunity

Sometimes in life, we're presented with multiple opportunities. As an athlete, how can you choose between something that advances your athletic goals and something that advances goals in an equally important (but completely different) part of your life? Maybe it's your full-time job, maybe it's school, or even a much anticipated chance to travel. 

Opportunities look different for each of us based on our own goals and lifestyles. It's important to be able to make a decision that works for you and that sets you up for success in the future. 

I was recently faced with this very dilemma. This is how I made a decision I felt confident, happy and excited about! Yes, I had to "give up" an opportunity to advance one of my goals--but what I got was peace of mind and confidence in my own ability to choose what's right for me. So, something kiiiiind of priceless ;-) 


Check your Health

How are you feeling? Have you been healthy or are you struggling to get enough sleep every night? Are you eating to fuel your workouts or have you been indulging more so than usual? As an athlete, these are the details that determine your overall performance. It's easy to forget (or completely refuse) to listen to your body; if you're wondering if you should start a two a day program versus spending that morning time preparing for an upcoming test or project, your health (i.e., sleep, diet, stress) should be the first thing you check into. 

Check your Timeline

Timeline it out: will either of these opportunities present themselves again within the next 3, 6 or 12 months? When deciding between speaking at a conference and taking a fight, I knew that the conference was a one time event, while there would undoubtedly be many fights within any of those time frames. In your case, you may have the opportunity to play as a starter in an upcoming game, but it falls at the same time as networking event you need to attend. Again, this is about figuring out what works for you, so apply the timeline and ask yourself, which of these things do I have less of an opportunity to repeat? 

Check your Fuel

"Fuel" can be different for all of us. No matter what it is though, it's quantifiable (i.e., you can put it in numbers). If you're torn between a school choice and a training choice, your "fuel" may be your grades vs. your hours of free time. Numbers vs. Numbers. In my case, my "fuel" referred to my current salary versus the number of fights I want to take this year. I had to decide: take this opportunity that could potentially advance my career and get me a raise or take a fight and gain much needed experience? After you've checked into your body and figured out your timeline, play the numbers game: which of these numbers is more important to you right now, for this specific choice?


I had checked my health and knew I wasn't feeling my best. I checked my timeline and knew, there will definitely be more fights this year. And I checked my "fuel", knowing that this career opportunity meant more in the long run than this fight. As an athlete, that is a really difficult decision to make because, theoretically, you never want anything to stand in the way of your goals. But since most of us do not have the luxury of being paid athletes, we have to fit our athletic goals in with all the other important, wonderful, complex goals and aspects of our daily lives. 

The next time I'm faced with a choice between two conflicting opportunities, the outcome may be completely different. But no matter the case, I know how to make a decision that work for me--and hopefully, you do too! 

Knowing Your Worth: Life After a Weight Cut and a Trophy

As I stood looking in the mirror, I just felt worthless. Who was this person looking back at me with this tiny, tired body? I thought I would want to stay this way but as I stared at this stranger, all I wanted was to figure out who the hell I was and why I still wasn't able to celebrate how far I had come, how much I had truly accomplished. 

April 2016 to October 2016 - about a 20lb weight difference 

April 2016 to October 2016 - about a 20lb weight difference 

A few months ago, I shared about my history with eating disorders and how it was affecting my first time going through a weight cut. I wanted to share about what I've learned after a successful weight cut and tournament win. 

I don't share the image above lightly. I'm not one to post photos like this. I share this to highlight just how much change I had undergone and how, societally, I should be happy with this degree of progress and attainment of my goals. I made my weight and I did in fact win my tournament. It was an incredible feeling, knowing the months of training, dieting, sweating, crying, and pushing myself had paid off. 

But here's the punchline:

When the adrenaline wore off, and the "Congratulations!" and "You look amazing!" stopped coming, when my trophy gathered dust and an injury kept me from being able to train...I didn't feel good enough. I felt the weight of my worthlessness. And it was time to really dig into why.

Here is what I've come to truly believe:

It is so common yet so incredibly dangerous to anchor our value, our self-worth, to something that will change.

Obviously, body image and how I respond to my body based on how it looks is something I deal with on a daily basis. Something that was put under a microscope while I went through this season of my training. But I came to the following conclusions in the past few months after such a trying and emotional time for me:

Your body will change. Your job will change. Your friends will change. Even your abilities will change; you could get hurt or lose the ability to think clearly or take care of yourself. 100% of the tangible, "doable" things in this life will not last. Let that sink in for a moment. 

With that in mind, why would you value yourself based on such fleeting, unstable things? Well, for one, because it's easy. It's easy to base how you feel on how you look or what you do or how high your grades are or how many friends you have or how much money you make because you can see that. You can measure it in some form or another and therefore, you can measure yourself. 

Now, I'm not here to shove my specific beliefs down anyone's throat; that's not my M.O. However, I think we can all agree on the universal need to derive your value and base your worth on something unchangeable, unyielding and immeasurable. If you can measure it, it has a shelf life. It doesn't have an eternal, unbreakable value and therefore, it can't give you one. 

It is so easy to think that the next goal or the next 5 lbs or the next promotion or the next relationship will make you feel better about yourself. It won't. I promise, it really, really won't. Because if that is where you're basing your worth, you will always be in a constant state of improvement and filled with a constant need for validation. 

You don't need validation, you don't need improvement. You are enough, just as you are, right now. 

I would be lying if I said I knew how to fully embrace this state of nirvana or that I could tell you what your anchor is; I don't know how and I can't decide that for you.

I have to constantly remind myself, almost on an hourly basis, that I am more than the number of squats I can do or the number of people that read my blog or the money in my bank account or even the number of people that love me. I am anchored to the truth that I have value because God gave me life and salvation and therefore, He gave me more value than I can ever give myself based on my shallow ideas of self-worth.

If nothing else, I hope you can join me in just being more aware. Aware of whether or not you're basing how you feel about yourself on things that will truly never fulfill you. Aware of what or who you are anchoring your self-worth to. 

I still have goals. I still want to be a world champion fighter. But when I get to that point, I won't be worth any more or any less than I am right now as a slightly out of shape, socially awkward, writer/fighter-in-training. 

And I think that's what it means to know your worth


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My 3 Rules of Self-Care

It's been OVER a month since I wrote a blog, and there's a reason for that. 

I needed a break. A nice, looooong, guilt-free break from all of it. From training, from dieting, from socializing, from writing, from constantly chasing something. 

Slowing down is not in my nature and "self-care" is definitely one of those currently hip words that feels super cheesy/new-agey and something that only overly sensitive people need to indulge in. After taking a hiatus from all the things that (I thought) made me, well, me--I realized just how important self-care is. 

While I haven't been writing (or doing much of anything else), I have been reading. And thinking. A lot. I've found these 3 things to work best for me when trying to understand how to take care of myself. If you're feeling tired of everything and like you need to recharge, try a few out for yourself and let me know how you feel! 


1. Get back to your roots

Before I fell in love with fighting, my first love was yoga. And the fact is, it's more me than fighting! After my tournament, I realized I had fallen away from the thing that made me feel centered and most in-tune with my body...for over a YEAR. So for the past month, instead of keeping up my cardio, I've been hitting my mat every morning. Even if it's only for 15 minutes, I'm working on getting back to the thing that makes me feel best, most rested and most like myself. 

The Takeaway for YOU. Ask yourself:

-What activity makes me feel the most me? Only you can answer that, so the beautiful thing is--there is no wrong answer. If you're struggling to pin point what that one thing is, think about the times you felt the happiest, most refreshed and most like you were ready to take on life. What were you doing? Great, now work backwards from there. (Inactivity is a perfectly fine answer, by the way). 

-What do I need to let go of in order to make time for that activity? Does reading bring you to your happy place but you haven't opened a book in ages? Swap your late night Netflix for a novel. You'll thank yourself soon enough. 

2. Listen to your body 

Obviously the yoga plays into this one for me, but I don't just mean in terms of exercise. Cutting weight left a serious toll on how well I was able to intuitively know what my body needed. After my fight, I went a solid two weeks of just binging on anything I could get my hands on since I had been restricting myself for so long. But that didn't make matters any better; once I got a grip on myself, I had to really think about my cravings, my appetite and how I felt after eating. I had to relearn the natural cues of my own body so I could give it what it needs, without weight loss goals or intense training to distract me. 

The Takeaway for YOU. Try to:

-Breathe. Take a few minutes, or even A SINGLE minute, to just listen to the natural rhythm of your breath. You may notice, like me, that you don't breathe very well. Not only does deep breathing reduce stress, it stimulates brain growth and lowers blood pressure. Breathing exercises: here

-Tap into intuitive eating. If your issue is that you don't actually recognize your own cues for hunger or thirst (like this lady right here), then I would suggest this handy article from Dr. Axe. It's amazing how truly disconnected we can feel from our own bodies; this is just one way to understand yourself a little better. 

-Stretch (just a little). If you're sitting or standing all day, you're going to have pain and tension somewhere in your body. You don't need to go through an hour long yoga class to try and touch your toes. Doing a few simple stretches in the morning or before bed can help you figure out where you're currently tight and what makes your body feel best in the long run. 

3. Stop Waiting for permission

This is so important in life but especially when you're trying to focus on yourself (for once). I kept looking for validation for taking a break; I texted my coach to assure me this was okay for me to be doing. I felt the need to explain myself when I ate fast food or desserts or didn't go to the gym. I was desperately waiting for someone to give me permission to take care of myself. Part of my self-care routine is positive self-talk--reminding myself that I don't have to explain myself or be validated by others. We all desire that to some degree, but when it's to the point of preventing you from enjoying your own life or taking care of yourself, it's time to dial it back. 

The Takeaway for YOU. Ask yourself:

-Am I currently taking care of myself? Maybe you're way ahead of me and you already take steps necessary to stay mentally and physically refreshed! I truly hope so. But check in and figure out if that's really the case. 

-What is holding me back from taking time for myself? Fighting is a very gritty sport, you get caught up in the idea of having to prove yourself. I was so afraid of people thinking I was quitting that I never took a break, for over a year. So when I needed one...I needed a BIG one. I had to let go of worrying about what everyone else would think when I wasn't in the gym. And so far, it's been the best thing I could do for myself. 


So, with all that said, if you're feeling burnt out, tired and a little jaded on life, try these things out. Taking time for myself and learning how to truly take care of myself has been eye opening. It's an ongoing practice and I'm certainly still learning, but that's what life is about, isn't it?


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3 guidelines for creating your own self care routine

3 Ways to Snap Out of a Bad Mood

Anyone who knows me can attest, I am an emotional rollercoaster. If I'm up, I'm WAAAAY up and if I'm down, it is actually the end of the world and there's nothing you can say to convince me otherwise.

Moody is my middle name and because of that, I've wasted more time than I care to admit letting other people's behaviors or actions or the circumstances of life dictate my mood. As someone who is prone to emotional imbalance, I can confidently say that there are ways to truly keep your emotional balance and maintain a positive attitude when life gets you down. Or you want to drop kick some dummy but aren't allowed because that's "not work appropriate behavior." Whatever that means. 


  • Gratitude Lists

I started making these back in August when I was having a bad day and texted my mom asking for advice, to which she replied, "Count your blessing, that should take a while." I admittedly rolled my eyes and then thought, you know what? That's not a bad idea. Thus, the gratitude list was born. I've found that gratitude is a much more powerful tool in changing your bad mood than simply ignoring it or "thinking happy thoughts". It goes back to the fact that happiness is a choice. When anger or sadness or frustration strikes, take a few minutes and write down the things you're grateful for. See here for a great method to make gratitude a daily practice and how to get the most out of your lists. 

  • Focus on Others

Altruism, i.e. unwarranted or selfless acts of kindness, have long been hailed as a way to make yourself happier too. Read the science behind it here and here. It doesn't have to be anything major. I find that even just checking on a friend I haven't talked to in a few weeks can shift my perspective enough so I'm not so focused on my own bad mood. Now I'm focused on them, how they're feeling, how they're doing and how I can help.

  • Move Around

Get outside. Go on a drive if you have time for it. My mood usually changes at work (weird, right?) and I'll go for a 5 minute walk to clear my head or go stretch for a few minutes if the weather isn't great out. Find a way to physically remove yourself from the space you're currently in and get a change of scenery for a few minutes. I have zero science on hand to back this one up, but I promise you, it has worked for me more times than I can count. 


I don't have a ton of answers. But I don't think this is one of those situations that more options lead to better results.

I think you need to find the thing that grounds, centers and uplifts you. It's not about ignoring or suppressing the negativity you feel--it's about feeding positivity. 

This is a life-long practice and these are just tools to use when life smacks you in the face and you say, "Well today is sh*t and I hate everything." Because that is most definitely going to happen. It's not about never having a bad mood or a bad day, it's about being prepared for that to happen and making the most of the situation when it does; and I hope that these tools prove as helpful and powerful for you as they have for me! 


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Whole-wheat, Banana, Dark Chocolate & Greek Yogurt Muffins

So...I like muffins. A LOT. And I will go out of my way to eat/make/bury myself underneath them for as long as I live!

But, I'm cutting weight. So these muffins were a way of getting rid of some quite ripe bananas and a treat for my coworkers after an extraordinarily long week. This recipe is based on Running with Spoons: Banana Oat Greek Yogurt Muffins. She is one of my absolute FAVORITE food bloggers and has the most incredible recipes. I like to put my own variation on them but check out her site for the cooking how to's, original recipes, and healthy eating ideas! 

Ingredients yields approx. 15 muffins:

  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 medium ripe bananas 
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • As many dark chocolate chips as your heart desires!! I used chocolate chunks and saved a few to put 3 pieces on the top of each muffin. 
I buried myself in muffins. 

I buried myself in muffins. 

Cook it up:

  • Spray a muffin tin or liners thoroughly with oil; these suckers are dense and they WILL stick to the paper if not properly coated. 
  • Bake at 400F for approx. 20 minutes

The Verdict:

Well, I had a grand total of ZERO left after I doubled the above recipe and made about 30 muffins! These were super filling because of the whole wheat flour but also ooooh so soft because of the greek yogurt and bananas. I will definitely be making them again! 

Product Review: Vital Proteins Collagen Supplements

I was 99.9% sure that collagen was a fad diet thing; like juice cleanses and cabbage diets and all that. But, after a lot of research and a few too many hours stalking some health trendsetters on instagram and pinterest, I realized that it has the potential to be a staple! You know, like avocados and kale. 

I went with Vital Protein because the site was really well laid out and it explained the health benefits and uses of collagen as a supplement. And, as every visual shopper today, I'm a sucker for a clean logo and pretty packaging. JUDGE ME. 

PASTURE-RAISED, GRASS-FED COLLAGEN PEPTIDES, 10 OZ CANISTERS

Taste: A+++++++++++ BECAUSE YOU CAN'T TASTE IT AT ALL!!! I was blown away by that. Things that say "unflavored" very rarely are. This mixes so easily with my water, I can sip it throughout the day and not even think about it. 

COLLAGEN BEAUTY GREENS, 10 OZ CANISTER

Taste: C. This jank is not tasty. The health benefits are amazing and I'm glad that I have it as an option, but it has that weird, chalky texture. Even in a shake with pineapple, apple and avocado and blended with a high speed blender...it left much to be desired. 

Health Benefits