My Fight

My Journey with Eating Disorders

Original Instagram post can be found here: https://www.instagram.com/p/BuaCguyjty9/

High school (2009)

Cheerleading captain, homecoming queen (the most awkward one EVER 😂), Student Life “Prefect”, Honors Student...and severely bulimic. Some nights I’d binge and purge till my eyes were bloodshot and fake sick the next day because my anxiety and shame were too intense, so debilitating that I couldn’t be around people.

College (2009-2012)

Started seeing a therapist and found exercise I loved: @crossfitdiscovery@peacelovehiphop, yoga & Zumba. But my disorder morphed, now binging 1000s of calories at once and then punishing myself with extreme workouts.

Post-college, California (2012-2015)

Working at @lululemon & @fnstrainingcenter helped fitness become part of my identity. I adored my communities and loved exercise, but my disorder changed again: body dysmorphia. No matter how fit I looked, it was never enough. I was obsessed with my appearance and linked it directly to how much love and worth I felt I deserved.

Post-California, back in Augusta (2015-2018)

I started kickboxing. Fighting changed my life; I felt capable & empowered. My focus shifted from appearance to valuing performance: getting faster, stronger, more skilled at a sport. But with competing came cutting weight. I lost so much fat that my hormones took over a year to heal. Not only that, my issues with body dysmorphia and general body anxiety came back stronger than ever.

Present day (2019)

Through @betterhelp, I finally addressed the emotional issues causing my years of eating disorders. I‘ve broken the binging/purging cycle once and for all and adopted a mindset of #bodyneutrality. I have extra fat and strong muscles. I have days of insecurity, self-love and neutrality. And for the first time, I can post a bikini picture without wanting to physically hurt myself.

It’s taken 10 YEARS to get here. Friend, if you’re suffering from eating disorders: ask for help; try to be kind & patient with yourself; know you are loved, you are not alone, & you can and will heal ❤️

Anxiety Isn't

Anxiety isn’t always apparent.

Anxiety isn’t crying in the corner.

Anxiety isn’t the quiet kid.

Anxiety isn’t logical.

Anxiety isn’t concerned with your social status.

Anxiety isn’t what you think it is.

It’s much, much more.

I had a panic attack whilst apparently laughing, smiling and having a good time. As soon as I was done pretending, I ran to the bathroom to use my inhaler because I felt like my chest was going to implode and my lungs were going to burst into flames and my throat was going to swallow the rest of my body whole. I was having a panic attack, but no one was the wiser.

I think in our minds, we see anxiety as this very obvious, very distinct behavior pattern or type of person. And that just isn’t true. Mental illness affects millions of people and we hide it. Everyday. Living in plain sight.

If I were cleverer, I’d pretend it’s like having a superpower. A keen sensitivity to my surroundings, to the energies around me. But I’m not, and it doesn’t feel like a superpower. It feels like a weakness. Something that makes me less than everyone else.

Do you feel that way too? If so, I highly recommend talking to a professional! I use writing as a creative outlet, but sometimes you need someone who can talk without emotions getting in the way. I’ve been a user of BetterHelp on and off for several years and absolutely adore my counselor.

There’s nothing wrong with you (or me), anxiety, depression and a multitude of other mental health issues affect millions of people every day. So if you’re feeling them overwhelm of going through it alone, remember that you don’t have to.

Gratitude for the "Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad" Days

I didn’t stick to my writing schedule last week. Life did that thing where everything got terrifyingly and unstoppably out of control. And despite my feelings of guilt and frustration…the world kept spinning. No one unsubscribed (thanks fam!). No one unfollowed (or maybe they did, how do you even keep up with that?!).

The only thing that changed was my attitude. So let’s jump on in.

What does gratitude mean?

Gratitude is defined as the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness: she expressed her gratitude to the committee for their support

That’s why gratitude comes up so much around Thanksgiving. It can be considered one in the same. So if it makes it easier to think of ways to be “grateful” just replace it with “thankful”. Or even: appreciation, value, admiration, respect, indebtedness, recognition of the good qualities of. Hit up your local thesaurus and find a definition that you can connect with.

But more importantly, figure out what gratitude makes you feel. I find that when I express gratitude, I’m overcome by a sense of humility.

Let me explain. I have a choice about how to react when I get punched in the gut so hard that I want to throw up (which literally just happened last night). I can choose to be angry and upset and tell myself that “I don’t deserve for something like that to happen to me.” In essence, I’m saying that I’m better than my problems or my hardships. That I am somehow exempt from those things happening to me. And I did feel that way. I was pissed and thought, “I didn’t deserve that. I should be better than that happening.”

But when I choose to show gratitude for those experiences that innately upset, frustrate and anger me, I am choosing to humble myself to that experience and accept the truth that I’m not better than what happens to me. I don’t necessarily deserve for good or bad things to happen or not happen. I’m alive by the grace of God and have ZERO control as to what happens to me in life, despite my constant pretending that I do. When you stop telling yourself that you “deserve” anything in life, you create space to be thankful for everything in life, even the hardships.

Gratitude keeps me humble. It reminds me that no matter the circumstance, I am called to be thankful.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18  (NIV)

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

It’s not just about saying, “I’m thankful for this terrible thing that I actually hate.” Do you really think that’s ever going to feel genuine? NOPE.

It can be a challenge, but practice thinking about the greater good and the lesson that is derived from whatever hardship you’re dealing with. Here’s what it looks like for me.

I’m grateful for:

  • Late nights at the office because I know that my effort doesn’t go unseen and hard work always paves the way to better rewards

  • Bills because, while paying them off is stressful, they teach me how to be mindful and thoughtful with how I spend my money elsewhere

  • Injuries because they give me space to slow down and heal and teach me to appreciate my body

  • Hard training sessions because they fuel the desire to win so much more than winning does alone

Just like everything else in life, gratitude takes practice. When I first started keeping a gratitude journal, I only focused on the obviously good things. It’s much, much easier, but is also a necessary part of practicing gratitude, something we’ll talk more about later.

But for now, I’m grateful for my “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad” week because it gave me the spark and the story I needed to write this blog ;)

Courage Challenge

What’s the one thing you’ve been too afraid to do?

One time, I went skydiving. See below.

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As you can see, IT WAS VERY SCARY. However, I loved every second of it and had wanted to do it for a long time. So this, happy, screaming fear that you see above, is not the kind of fear I am talking about.

I’m talking about the kind of fear that keeps you from living the life you really want. For me, my true fear was this blog.

I was so afraid of people actually reading my words, knowing how deeply I felt about things, judging my story and my struggle that I didn’t even bother trying. I knew I desperately wanted to do something, but I was too afraid.

Finally, with encouragement from a friend, I began and while there’s definitely been ups and downs, I’m so thankful for that push because my fear is nothing compared to the overwhelming good that has come from starting, despite my fears.

Women (and men) have reached out sharing their stories of ED and anxiety, asking for support with their nutrition, interest in taking up martial arts themselves. I’ve been able to direct people to BetterHelp and take the steps they need to care for their mental health. I’ve been able to help women who struggle with self-worth and body image and so much more. Keeping up with this blog, being brutally honest with myself and with you, has been the most rewarding experience of my life. And fear would have kept me from experience all of that.

It took courage then and it takes courage now, every time I write something that scares me. Every time I share something and think, “That’s too much, too personal, too real.”

But a friend challenged me to be courageous with the thing I was most afraid of, to share my story and trust that effort would be worth the fear. And he was right.

Will you face your fear?

So tell me, what’s the thing you want so badly but are afraid to try?

Is it a new career? Is it a conversation with someone you love? Is it a big, potentially risky purchase? I’m not sure and it could be a thousand different things.

Whatever it is, I challenge you to go for it. To take a leap of faith and see it through. Because while you may feel like you’re falling through the sky for a bit, you’ll always land safely on the ground, and chances are, you’ll be so glad you tried.

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.

Here’s what I’ll be doing:

  1. For my upcoming road trip, I’ll do a little recon beforehand and find the best Yelped restaurants to try along the way and at our destination!

  2. While I’m out of town, I’m going to visit a gym to try a new workout in a new place.

  3. Around town, I’m going to find a fun, active place for a date night that we’ve never been to before.

I’ll be sharing my adventures on IG, be sure to comment and let me know what you’re planning and how everything 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.

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. 

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! 

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 ;) 

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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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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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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