My Fitness

Gratitude Journal Giveaway

I’M SO EXCITED to share a FREE GRATITUDE JOURNAL!!!! I’ve teamed up with Taylor Best (yes, two Taylors does equal 2x the awesome) of Taylor Best Creative. She is an incredibly talented graphic designer and photographer and agreed to help me bring this idea to life.

This is a single-sheet that you can print out to turn into your own book or print off one at a time on days that you really need it.

Why should i care about “Gratitude”?

There’s a continually growing body of research supporting the theory that gratitude is one of the most powerful practices in cultivating emotional resilience, stability and overall happiness. Based on this scientific evidence, gratitude can make you:

  1. Happier than money or things

  2. Emotionally strong

  3. Physically healthier

  4. Better at your job

  5. Get better quality sleep

Feels like five solid reasons to start practicing gratitude, amiright? And if that’s not enough, here’s a couple more articles.

How do I start a “gratitude practice”?

So gratitude is great and awesome and all that but what does it mean to “practice gratitude”? GLAD YOU ASKED! It’s so easy to think about something like soccer practice. If someone told you that you needed to get better at soccer, you’d go to practice. You’d show up at a set time every day, do the drills given to you, work hard, go home. Do it all over again, day after day.

Practice is practice, no matter what you’re talking about. In order to get better at gratitude, you have to practice it.

Start by having a journal and setting a time and place to use it. Whether it’s at the end of the day, middle or beginning, set your time to practice. If you use the download, you’ll have a couple different areas of life to think about: present day, general life and specific people and events. Some days might be easier for certain areas and vice versa—but that’s the point of practice! Being grateful for every part of you day and your life will feel more natural over time and, as you now know, reverberate positivity and health into all parts of your life.

I hope you enjoy starting or continuing your current gratitude practice with the help of this handy guide!

Check out Taylor Best Creative website and instagram for more beautiful photos and art!

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!

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! 

Fear Tactics Used in Health and Wellness

Fear Tactics Used in Health and Wellness

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

Finding Your Voice

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

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

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

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

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

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


Learn about Thyself

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

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

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

Choose your Reactions

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


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

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


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

The Dangers of the "Cheat Meal" Mentality

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Mindfulness & Meditation for Beginners

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

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

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

Yes and no. Let's see here:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Who's your competition?

How do you not compete in a competitive sport?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Set measurable goals

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

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

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

Surround yourself with likeminded people

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

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

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


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

Choosing The "Right" Opportunity

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

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

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


Check your Health

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

Check your Timeline

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

Check your Fuel

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


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

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

My 3 Rules of Self-Care

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

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

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

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


1. Get back to your roots

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

The Takeaway for YOU. Ask yourself:

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

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

2. Listen to your body 

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

The Takeaway for YOU. Try to:

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

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

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

3. Stop Waiting for permission

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

The Takeaway for YOU. Ask yourself:

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

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


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


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

3 guidelines for creating your own self care routine

3 Ways to Snap Out of a Bad Mood

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

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


  • Gratitude Lists

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

  • Focus on Others

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

  • Move Around

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


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

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

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


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Time Management with Two Full-Time Jobs

Time management was never my strong suit. As a long time (and high functioning) procrastinator, getting things done ahead of schedule was not my idea of a good time. Honestly, I didn’t understand how people fit so much stuff into their day. It sounded awful and exhausting but also, totally impossible.

I stumbled upon fighting about 2 or 3 months before I started working a full time, 9-5, salaried job. In that blissful few months of all-the-time training, I didn’t have to think about when I fell asleep or when I cooked or how I was going to fit in recovery. I had all the time in the world to train, rest, eat and do whatever else I wanted!

And then reality came crashing in and I had to start “adulting” again. Don’t get me wrong--I love my job (most of the time) and having a steady income is a blessing. But it has presented me with a unique issue: how do I advance my career and my athletic aspirations, simultaneously? And how do I have time for family and friends and a life outside of it all?!

Well, to be honest, it’s not glamorous or exciting and it requires a lot of (drumroll, please) discipline. But impossible? Definitely not. This is what I've learned while juggling two full-time commitments, plus relationships and, you know, "a life":

  1. Meal prep y’all

    • I’m still getting the hang of this one. But thus far, it’s proving to be incredibly helpful! Seeing as I’m just weeks out from a fight, I have to adhere to a strict diet to get me through workouts while still cutting weight. Eating healthy is difficult enough but eating absurd amounts of broccoli and baked chicken for every meal requires prep work so I’m not stuck somewhere without food I can eat and possibly subject innocent people to my hanger.

  2. No Mo' Couch Potato 

    • I LOVE NETFLIX. Stranger Things, Making a Murderer? Binge watched in a weekend, duh. Not to mention my unhealthy obsession with Friends. But on a day to day basis, I don’t watch any tv. I don’t have an extra minute to spare and definitely not the 40+ minutes that always happen when you sit down to watch just “one” episode. Save movies and shows for downtime, i.e., Saturday.

  3. Date Night with the Important People

    • To prevent overtraining (and general insanity) I take 2 days off per week to rest and recharge. So I spend that time with the people who matter most to me. It takes the guesswork out of when I’ll get to see them; I know Tuesdays are date night and the weekend is when I spend some time with family and friends.

  4. Set your Intention

    • This sounds way more Zen than it is. I don’t mean just think something happy; definitely do that, but also, I write down something specific I want to accomplish at work and something specific to work on in training. When I get to work in the morning, before things get too crazy, I pick one thing I want to work on outside of just completing my projects. Then, in the car on the way to training, I do the same thing. This helps me grow in small ways every day. 

  5. Ask for Help

    • Seriously, what is the big deal about asking for help? We’re all so afraid of it, but when you’re basically working two jobs and one of them costs you money, you learn to ask for help. My family is nearby, so if I need something (i.e., forgot to bring lunch or don't have time to run an errand), I know I have someone I can ask for help.

  6. Weekend Part 1: RELAX

    • Most people kick back on Sunday but that’s actually my cooking/shopping day. Friday night and Saturday are my time to do whatever I want, whether that be Netflix and wine with my roommate or writing a blog like this one, I just kick back and don’t worry about all the details of the upcoming week. I spend time doing the things I enjoy outside of training. 

  7. Weekend Part 2: Get Sh*t DONE

    • Getting all my food bought, cooked, and packed on Sunday allows me to not stress during the week, and that’s a HUGE motivator to get it all taken care of. It is extremely tiring but the necessity of it outweighs my desire to put it off. I also do all my laundry, errands and whatever else I need to do on Sunday. I prefer to do it this way, instead of going from  zero to 100, I’m already in “go mode” and ready to hit the ground running on Monday.  

  8. Recover Smarter

    • I train 1-2 hours, 5 days a week. I was training 6 until I pulled my hip flexor a few weeks ago and had to take an entire week off from anything. With my next fight less than two months away, I don’t have time for any injuries. So, I have to make the most of both my time in the gym and my time recovering. This means foam rolling and stretching multiple times a day, in the office, at the gym and at home. Ten minutes a couple times a day is enough to keep stiffness from slowing me down later on. 

  9. Laser Focus is Necessary

    • Since I started working, I’ve gotten a promotion. Since I started training, I’ve taken one fight and have another fast approaching. This wouldn’t be possible if I didn’t focus completely on what I’m doing, when I’m doing it. When I’m at work, my mind has to be focused and sharp. It can’t wander off and think about training, and vice versa when I’m in the gym. Focus comes with practice and guiding your mind (and here's some good tips).

  10. Be Your Biggest Fan, Not Your Biggest Critic

    • This is up there in importance. You can’t think about what you’re lacking in; you can’t seek out approval for how you live your life. You have to support yourself, affirm yourself and be kind to yourself. When I start beating myself up, I stop and think, “Is this thought encouraging or discouraging me right now?” (Stolen from: here). It’s important to constantly encourage and praise yourself for your hard work; because you are, in fact, working really, really, really hard.

A monotonous and predictable schedule does not sound glamorous or fun. But the thing is, I love it. I don’t love cooking for 3 hours, or not being in the position to indulge in late night ice cream and Netflix whenever I want, but I love knowing that every single day, I’m kicking ass at work and in the gym. And by cutting away the excess in life, the stuff that is supposed to make us feel fulfilled but really just distracts us, I’m able to streamline my time to create a life that’s both productive and pretty freaking great.


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Life: Under Contstruction

Improvement is a weird thing. You don’t often see it happening, despite tireless effort, never ending workouts, and what feels like thousands of hours of practice. 

Sometimes weeks go by and you feel like there’s been ZERO improvement. I got the chance to talk to a friend last night about how incredibly frustrating this can be; we, like every other instant-gratification-loving human, want results NOW. 

I told her about a book I read several years ago called The Compound Effect. I highly recommend it, my boss/trainer at the time was a huge believer in it and he’s a shining example of it's teaching. The book goes into far greater detail, but the overarching message is this: small, consistent actions over time lead to major, lasting results.

Champions are not made overnight. Wealth is not accumulated quickly. This isn’t a terribly new concept; we’ve all heard the cliche: Rome wasn’t built in a day!

Yet, isn’t it so simple to think: Yeah, but the Romans were idiots, obviously. Not me! I’m the exception to that rule, I can make this happen WAY faster! (Sorry, Romans, you did your best.)


It had been a while since I recorded myself sparring, so last night I took a video. While I felt like it wasn’t my best, I looked at a video from February and realized, WOW, I’ve improved! Drastically. In a way that made me think, how have I not noticed this?

Because it's microscopic. It's the little tweaks that you make a thousand times in a row. It's the hours and hours and hours of throwing the SAME kick in order to finally do it right once. Of course you can't see improvement when you're in the thick of it; but perspective is a beautiful thing and time is a critical tool. Watching those two clips back to back was like watching two different people.

And that's the compound effect in action  under appreciated yet profound.

There's an Under Armour commercial that just nails it: "You are the sum of all your training." In everything you do, the person you are right now is a result of repeated actions.

Let that motivate you to continue how you're living or spur you into making a change. Because the truth is: day in, day out, you build yourself. 


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Hippie Health: A few of my favorite things

So, for those of you that don’t know this about me, in addition to being an aspiring NINJA, I’m also a total hippie.

If I’m not punching or kicking something, I’m looking up recipes for vegan dishes and buddha bowls or researching meat-free nutrition plans for athletes like myself (side note: not a vegan, I love me some BBQ. But I’m all about that dairy-free, plant-based, whole foods life). You can find me wearing the quintessential tie-dye-flowy-hippie-clothes, coloring or drawing, and doing some yoga--because I’m also a certified yoga instructor.

Because why break only one stereotype WHEN YOU CAN BREAK THEM ALL?

Yoga is a big part of who I am; like fighting, I discovered it at a time in my life when I desperately needed a refuge. It gave me the sense of calm and direction that I was lacking during my college years. Not only that, it helped me address the years of body-hating I’d inflicted on myself, something 97% of women deal with every single day.

Yoga taught me to have compassion for myself and for others while helping me learn to love my body and respect myself. While it may seem counter intuitive, I think having a background in yoga has helped me tremendously as a fighter. Not just in terms of flexibility or athleticism, but also for mental fortitude and inner calm. 

And while I may be incredibly out of practice, I still roll my yoga mat out once a week to do my own flow. Because it’s all about balance--finding the balance between aggression and peace, between a killer workout and a mindful flow. And, it keeps me flexible. Which is kind of important for EVERY athlete. 

So, with that said, here’s a compilation of my favorite happy-hippie resources to keep you well-fed, centered, and flexible!

Websites:

  • Greatist: I LOVE this site because they cater to every human; they have recipes for meat-eaters and vegans, workouts for hardcore athletes and for casual gym-goers, and plenty of inspiration and articles for everyone. I get about 90% of my recipe ideas from here.

  • Meditation breathing: I use this site for five minutes twice a day to practice deep breathing. As a naturally high-energy, i.e. high-strung, person I have to practice relaxing because it is not my forte.

  • Pinterest: Typical, I know. Women and pinterest (insert huge eyeroll here). But, as an information junky, it is the fastest way for me to find ANYTHING. I jump on pinterest for quotes that make me feel inspired, for information on what I can actually use apple cider vinegar for, or for a step-by-step guide on cooking salmon correctly for cooking-inept dummies like me. I heart pinterest.

Apps:

  • Forks over Knives - $5 - This app is amazing because it has all plant-based recipes AND makes shopping SUPER convenient by preloading all of the ingredients and syncing them to your phone so you can keep track of everything you need, per recipe. Shout out to lazy, health-conscious shoppers like me!

  • Daily Yoga - Free w/ Upgrade options - AWESOME app for beginners or seasoned yogis; it has yoga to destress, pre and post run stretches, and body-part specific yoga postures for tight hips and the like.

  • CalorieCount - Free - Does this one need explaining? I mostly use this to count my macros, make sure I’m not eating too much sugar and am getting enough vitamins everyday.

Instagram:

  • GRRRL Clothing - @grrrl_clothing - This brand is one of the sponsors for both Holly Holm and Rose Namajunas. As a female athlete, specifically a fighter, I love seeing the inspiring posts they flood my feed with.

  • Jeannette Ogden - @shutthekaleup - Great, fun photos of delicious food (and a really freakin cute baby), because, it’s instagram. And sometimes it’s just about the pretty stuff :)

  • Massy Arias - @massy.airas - A fitness account with tons of workouts, stretches, nutrition info and one of the coolest, most body-positive ladies on the planet.


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