Adventure Challenge

When I worked for lululemon athletica (#joblove #lifeinluon #idstillbethereifretailpaidbetter), my love for personal development truly took fire. One of my favorite exercises was this personal values game where you had 50 different cards with a single word on each one; you were asked to pick out 5 words that encompassed your personal values. The goal was to help you identify what strengths you bring to the workplace and also develop any skills that strongly related to your values.

Every couple months, you’d have an evaluation and play the game again. And sometimes words would change, but one of mine stayed the same for all the years I worked there: adventure.

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Adventure doesn’t have to mean travel. Seeing as adventure is one of my personal values, I see it very much like the quote from Eleanor Roosevelt. Having a sense of adventure in life is “to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”

You don’t have to travel the world to have an adventure. If you strive to experience new and richer experiences within your day to day life, you start to see even the mundane as an adventure.

Do you feel like your life is lacking some adventure? How can you incorporate more adventure into the mundane, day to day activities?

Perhaps adventure really does mean going to new places and spending more of your free time exploring. Do it then! But maybe adding some adventure to your day means sitting with someone different at lunch and getting to know a coworker you haven’t spent as much time with. Maybe it looks like cooking a new meal or a twist on an old favorite.

Adventure can be as big or as simple as you want it to be. But in the words of Mrs. Roosevelt, if you feel like you’re not tasting experience to the utmost, it’s time to spice things up.

YOUR CHALLENGE:

Decide what adventure looks like for you: travel, looking at everyday life in a new way, a combination of both, or something entirely your own.

Find at least THREE ways to incorporate adventure into your life before November. While there’s less than two weeks left in the month, there’s still plenty of time to find ways to make life feel richer, fuller and more adventurous.

Be sure to comment and let me know what you’re planning and how it goes!

Vulnerability Challenge

What does vulnerability look like for you?

What relationships make you shut down?

We all have them. Family members with different political beliefs, coworkers who don’t share your vision of how to get things done, strangers who feel entitled to share their opinions about your life with you, a general yet constant fear of rejection. There are people and situations in life that cause us to emotionally shut down. We can become angry, defensive, or entirely unable to interact at all. Vulnerability is triggered by different things for different people and reactions may be different for everyone (shutting down out of anger vs. fear).

It’s easy. It’s natural. It’s also not helping you grow.

Let me switch gears here for just a moment. Let’s define my favorite word: vulnerability.

Vulnerability: the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.
— Wikipedia

By this definition, vulnerability is not a great thing to have. In fact, it’s a terrible thing! Exposing ourselves to attack or harm? No thank you, that’s why I punch things in my spare time—ain’t nobody tryna get attacked up in here.

But I prefer another definition of vulnerability. One I have espoused after reading and following the work of Brené Brown:

Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy and creativity.
— Brené Brown, author and researcher

To sum up the work of Brown would be to do her a great disservice, but assuming you haven’t or don’t have the time to read her work in its entirety, let me do my best to give you the Cliff Notes version.

As humans, we have shame and fear. Our desire to connect with other humans is thwarted again and again by shame and fear, holding us back from action and openness. Fear causes us to believe that vulnerability, the act of showing our weakness and humanness, will drive us further apart and make us feel even more alone, it does the opposite. Vulnerability brings us closer together, moves us forward into action, and ignites deeper, more meaningful connections.

So, let’s go back to the beginning and the point of this post. It is natural and comfortable to want to close ourselves off to those who, for lack of better words, piss us off. Shut us down, cause us to draw deeper inside ourselves, scare us into thinking that people who are different than us are not only different, but terrible.

Maybe they are. Maybe they aren’t. I am neither the judge nor the jury. But I am here to ask a question: what would vulnerability do to those relationships? What would it look like? Could it even change that relationship for the better?

For me, bringing vulnerability to stressful or grating relationships looks like listening—not reacting. And letting my guard down, without any expectation or hope of reciprocation. Because that’s not the point. The point is that by increasing my own ability to be vulnerable, I open myself up to “love, belonging, courage, empathy and creativity.” That doesn’t require anyone else to participate and I don’t need permission to be human. I give others permission to let their guard down by first letting down my own.

I know that this opens me up to embarrassment. Hurt. Maybe even loss. But, maybe, just maybe, it will be the spark that lights a flame of change in those relationships. Not immediately, not overnight, maybe not even in the foreseeable future. But the impact in my own life is immediate, rippling out like rain drops breaking the tension of the tranquil waters of status-quo.

Your challenge, if you accept:

So my challenge to you, and me, is this: find one person in your life that you know, in your heart of hearts, you need to be more vulnerable with. Figure out what that looks like for you in the context of that relationship. Let go of your expectations. And be open to seeing what sparks take flame.

Fall Fitness Challenge

I love challenges. Even if it’s just a personal challenge, it gets my competitive fire burning. So when a local gym I go to announced an October class challenge, it should come as no surprise that I overhauled my day to day schedule in order to WIN AT ALL COSTS…. jk jk but I am doing everything I can to complete the challenge!

That being said, LET’S TALK FITNESS CHALLENGES! I don’t encourage overtraining but I DO encourage short challenges to see if maaaaybe you could push yourself just a little more than you normally do.

So since I’m doing a challenge for the month of October, here are some fitness challenges that anyone at any fitness level can add in for 30 days!

Choose Your Challenge

The (not-so) Flexy Femme

Maybe you sit all day (#deskjoblife), have an injury, or are just not a naturally flexible person: let’s stretch it out. For your challenge, try this on for size:

  • Good-Morning Flow: Spend the first 20 minutes of your day moving through a gentle, full body sequence to get the blood moving and start to increase your overall flexibility and mobility. You can find more on my Yoga, Stretching & Recovery page!

The (Wannabe) Cardio Queen

You’ve said it for months now, “I’m going to run in the morning!” … Aaaand another day passes, another mile has *not* been run. Let’s try something different to increase your cardiovascular strength and still hit snooze:

  • Tabata Time: Use the stopwatch on your phone or download a free stopwatch app. Set the timer for 10 seconds rest, 20 seconds work. Move as fast as you can during that 20 seconds—no cheating! Your heart and lungs will be pumping in no time, trust me. Choose your own moves or use one below! Check out my Home & Gym Workouts page for more of my favorites.

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The Strong (Willed) Siren

You don’t need nobody for nothing but when it’s time to open that jar of pickles, you may as well smash it against the wall because, in the midst of kicking ass and taking names, you’ve missed out doing your strength training. Get full-body strength and save further pickle jars from destruction:

  • No-Gym, No-Problem: Start out with body weight exercises; if they’re too easy, add dumbbells! You can always increase resistance but give yourself a solid foundation and work up from there. Try this 30-minute at-home workout to start!

Set Your Schedule

Now that you’ve selected the challenge that fits your lifestyle or fitness goals, PLAN FOR SUCCESS!

Do you want to stretch daily? Add strength once a week? Cardio twice a week? The choice is yours but here are my recommendations:

  • Stretching: No parameters—do it daily or even multiple times a day!

  • Cardio: Start out with twice a week and work up to as many as 6 days a week, depending on your current fitness level!

  • Strength: Start our with twice a week and be sure to take one day off between strength workouts, working up to no more than 4 days a week.

Share!

And finally, be sure to let me know on Instagram or Facebook if you’re creating your own fitness challenge for the month of October!! Good luck and I know you can rise to whatever challenge you set!

Goals Check: The Fall Reset

Not to get too hippie on you, but the beginning of fall is marked by the Fall Equinox, a time that can produce similar feelings to that of the New Year: assessing where you’re at, evaluating goals, letting go of things that aren’t serving you any longer and taking up new things that do.

So I’ll ask: where are you at with your year? We all set some sort of goals when the first dawn broke on 2018, shiny and new and full of “the best year ever” thoughts. Take account of the things that fell to the wayside—there's a reason you didn't accomplish them. Not necessarily for lack of trying or effort, but maybe, just maybe, those goals didn't really matter to you. 

Maybe you said that you wanted to start reading a book every month, but things just kept getting in the way. Did they? Or did you not have a strong enough reason why you wanted that? If we don't have a strong "Why?" behind our goals, then when things come up (as they always, always will), it will be so much harder to push through. 

As a former (and still occasional) perfectionist, the idea of not attaining a goal was unacceptable. Perfection or bust. But now, I see the bigger picture.

It’s all about the process: setting goals, failing, digging into WHY they failed, assessing progress made or lack thereof and using aaaaaaall of that information to make educated decisions moving forward.

And ironically, that is my new definition of a “perfect” year. A year in which I make incredibly lofty goals and fail at nearly every one of them! We all know the saying, “It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.” I’m all about the #readysetgoals life but the real triumph is embracing and adjusting goals based on the failures, triumphs and lessons that come along the way.

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So enjoy this season of reflection, begin new things, release the old, but most importantly, enjoy the journey ❤️

How to Recover after a Binge

I’m writing this because I need it.

Because I still struggle with eating disorders. It’s a life long battle and I know that.

But I also know it gets better. Because after over ten years of living with eating and anxiety disorders, I’ve experienced it all. Whether you’re actively seeking help to overcome a binge disorder or you’re a seasoned vet who just had a hard day and fell back onto old habits, here are some things that help me move forward in a healthy way:

text a friend
  1. Tell Someone Who Loves You

    This. It’s the first step and the hardest step because part of what gives binging its power is that it’s a secret. A dirty, nasty, shameful secret that you don’t want to tell anyone because if you don’t tell…you can just pretend it isn’t a problem. Binging can be triggered by so many things: a stressful event, boredom turned sadness, loneliness, the list goes on. The binge is already being used as a shield to hide from whatever is causing it—so shine light on it. Tell someone who loves you that you had a binge and you’re feeling crappy now. Tell them they don’t have to say anything but you just needed someone to know. Whenever I share the fact that I binged, it doesn’t matter what the other person says: I immediately feel a weight lifted because I know that I don’t have to hide from my problems or behind my mistakes. I can admit I did something that didn’t make me feel good and it paves the way to taking more actions that DO make me feel good.

2. Figure Out the Root

Was it a bad day at work? A nagging stress that finally came to a head? A picture on social media that just made you feel less-than? Literally all of those things have driven me to into the arms of my eating disorder. And I’m sure in the future, those things will again. IT HAPPENS. But knowing what your triggers are and ways to avoid them drastically limits the likelihood of it being the same event, over and over again. So grab a pen and paper and write down what’s going on in there; being honest with yourself about the real reason helps refocus your mind from feeling guilty or upset about bingeing to truly dealing with whatever your trigger was.

3. Treat Yourself Like Your Best Friend

you are worthy of love

This is one of my favorite rules and one that my best friend constantly reminds me of when I try to overcorrect after a binge. I’ll always say something like, “I just won’t eat today!” and her response is, “Would you EVER tell me to do that if I were in your shoes?” Of course not. That’s insane. You don’t need to punish yourself for binging. Would you tell someone you love that they don’t deserve to eat because they were upset and fell back on their eating disorder??? Only an jerk would do that. So don’t be an jerk to yourself. Remember, you are worthy of love and you can treat the next day like you would any other, no self-inflicted punishment required.


If you struggle with eating disorders or anxiety disorders that show up through binging, purging or a combination of all of the above, don’t hesitate to get help. I'm a staunch advocate for BetterHelp, a secure, online service that connects you with a professional counselor or psychologist for a flat monthly fee. I’ve used it during very stressful times in my life and walked away with the behavioral and mindset tools that keep me mentally healthy for the long run! If you’re actively struggling with any of these issues, please check it out!

It's time to change your narrative

"I'm not that kind of person."  "I don't do that." "I could never XYZ."

During college, I was not a morning person and there was no way of convincing me otherwise. It was true too, I moved a class back a semester because one week in, I realized I was NOT going to be making it to Chemistry by 8am. Dropped that one reeeaaal quick. 

So that became a part of me--a concrete identifier. "Brown hair, loud, not a morning person."

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Fast forward to the year 2018, college is but a faint memory and flying cars are still only in the Jetsons. And I LOVE MORNINGS. Que?!

But this didn't happen by accident. I loved working out after work, it's been a great way to destress from my day, but it was limiting how much I was able to do with my day. I couldn't play with my dog, I couldn't hang out with anyone or run errands or really much of anything since I was leaving straight from work to go to the gym. And if I was training (versus just working out), that could easily mean two hours in the gym, meaning I might not walk through the door till 9pm. 

I knew morning workouts were an option but..."I'm not a morning person."

And while college me had the luxury of just pushing a class back a semester, late-twenties me does not have such flexibility. I knew I wanted more from my day and I wanted more time. I've shared my tips on time management in the past; after a couple years of doing the same thing, I knew it was time to try something new.

Meaning: I needed to try morning workouts. The belief that I couldn't do mornings was holding me back; it was time to change the narrative. 

Instead of just forcing myself to think, "I am a morning person, hooray!", I slowly eased myself into it. I started waking up at 6:45 for a week. Then 6:30. Then 6. Once I had enough time to actually fit a workout in, I started taking the dog for a walk before work. Then, the final push: morning workout classes.

I signed up for my first 6am workout in YEARS. And it took some adjusting, but I quickly realized that even if I'm not innately inclined to rise before the sun, I can become a version of myself that supports my lifestyle goals more. 

Taylor Guido

Now I'm working out at 5:30am and loving it, not because it's suddenly fun to wake up this early, but because I get more life in my day. 

Ask yourself:

  1. What do you need more of?
  2. What beliefs about yourself are keeping you from achieving those needs?
  3. What can you stop or start doing today to move towards a change?

Sharing is Caring: We all deal with insecurity

The truth is, from the depths of my soul, I am incredibly insecure. Deeply, painfully, embarrassingly at times. I feel like less of a person when other people get compliments. I lash out if I feel like I'm not the center of attention. I have difficulty being happy for others' successes or accomplishments--I mostly feel jealousy and a fear that it makes me...less. Less than perfect. Less beautiful. Less intelligent. Less loved. Less important. Less successful.

The hard truth is that jealousy and insecurity are just different manifestations of the same feeling: worthlessness. 

I have at least 5 blogs about worth, comparison and the like. But the reason I continue to share my struggles with worthlessness, jealousy, insecurity, and meaning is because I know that in some way, shape or form--you feel it too

You, whoever you are. There are moments, maybe late at night, alone in the dark, when you look at the ceiling and tell yourself, "I'm not as handsome as him. I'm not as successful as her." And you know that those thoughts are just part of a bigger, deeper longing to be enough. To feel like you're worth a damn. 

I'm here to tell you that you are worth a damn. And thankfully, no amount of jealousy or comparison or doubt or hate for others success will make you enough. We can find hope in something better and more beautiful than the darkness of insecurity and loneliness. I believe that our meaning is given to us by God; that our worth comes from grace and the price that was paid. Nothing else can fill that hole the way that He can. 

But even if you don't share that exact view, you're still loved. You are still worthy, you are still enough. The breath in your lungs is precious; the yearnings of your soul bring something beautiful and unique and wholly yours into the world. Perhaps you don't find your worth in God, but please, take a moment to internalize the truth that the existence of someone else does not detract from how bright and beautiful and necessary your light is. 

I have no solution. I have no how-to step. I'm just a broken, sinful person who struggles, daily, with feeling jealous, insecure, and worthless. But one of my core beliefs is that we give power to what we hide. Only by sharing our personal struggles can we realize that we are not alone. Only together can we support and encourage each other to become better, more confident, more secure, more self-aware, more peaceful, more loving human beings. 

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So, friend, you are not alone. And while I may not have answers, I have courage and strength in the knowledge that we all share the burden of finding worth, of feeling shame and insecurity and jealousy.

And together, we can share our stories, share our struggles, and in time, share our freedom. 


If this post resonated with you, shoot me an email at taylorguido@gmail.com or leave a comment! And if it didn't, please feel free to still email or comment, I'd love to know your thoughts and your take on it. 

#FightingForFood: Increase Your Protein

We're at the end of the road, people! It's the final guideline. It's also the scariest for so many women 😱 Let me be clear here: protein will not make you turn into the Govenator. 

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Honestly, it'd be pretty cool if just eating more protein gave you strong, defined muscles. But alas, it's not that simple. 

So, 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 it didn't make sense for me to eat over 100g of protein a day because I just didn't need that much. However, as I started doing more strength based sports and wanting to break personal records, I had to slowly increase my protein intake, over years! Now, I regularly consume 120-150g of protein and maintain a very high lean muscle mass--but that happened over a period of almost 10 YEARS (that makes me feel way too old). 

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. 

While I recommended tracking macros for carbs, I don't make that same recommendation for protein. Why? Because it's not nearly as tricky! A piece of chicken the size of a deck of cards or roughly the size of your palm will have about 20-25g of protein. However, a handful of rice has a different number or carbs than handful of chips which is going to be different than a handful of potatoes. Get the drift? 

So keep it simple! Add in a small amount of protein to a meal that currently is a little sparse. Breakfast is a great place to start, most people are conditioned to eat a high carb breakfast--and there's nothing wrong with that if it keeps you going! But try adding in some eggs or egg whites, depending on how you tolerate fat. Low-sugar Greek yogurt, tofu, tempeh, or even a breakfast burrito with beans if you're feeling fancy! 

#FightingForFood: Play with Carbs

The fourth pillar of my Female Athlete Nutrition series is aaaallll about my favorite macro of all time: CARBS 😍

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Same, Oprah. Same. 

However, as you're trying to figure out a way of eating that works for you, it's really important that you experiment. I know that sounds scary, but no one else lives in your body but you. So no one else is qualified to tell you exactly what and how much to eat. Yes, people with proper training can give you some guidelines, tell you what has worked for others and give you the science of how your body burns calories--but at the end of the day, you have to put in the detective work. 

Carbs are a hot button issue in nutrition. People live on both ends of the spectrum, some flourishing on a low carb (ketogenic, Atkins, Paleo, *insert latest trendy name here*) and some people feel their best on a high carb (athletic performance, plant based, etc.) diet. None are better than the other--there is only what's better for you

So that being said, sometimes it's nice to just know where to start! The best decisions are based on data--so start gathering yours! If you haven't been tracking your macros and calories, sign up for a free site like MyFitnessPal and just track what and how much you're eating for about a week. That should give you a good baseline to answer some key questions: how many carbs am I currently eating? How do I feel? 

And as annoyingly simple as it is, start making changes and asking yourself those two questions. Rinse. Repeat. And figure out what number makes you feel, look and/or perform the best!

It's so so so so so so so understanding to want someone to just TELL YOU THE MAGIC NUMBER but the truth is that there is no magic number. There's your body, your metabolism, your activity level, your hormones, your stress level, your sleep and therefore, only YOUR way of eating. It takes patience and dedication, but if you start investigating what works for you now, you'll set the foundation for intuitive eating in the future!  

#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!

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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 ;)