Who are you living for?

Who or what you live for consumes your life. Trust me. That’s how most eating disorders start. You live for your body, for this messed up ideal in your head, for society’s view that being skinny/small/low-weight is being perfect. lived for all these things. I wanted to look a certain way and lived my life based on how I thought society or other people would look at me, judge my body, and think of me. I was so caught up in hating my body and who I was that I forgot myself, I let someone/thing else dictate how I was to live my life.

None of this is easy to admit, it isn’t easy to type this, but if I can help just one person, reach someone struggling with my message then it’s worth it. I see it so much in today’s world, not just with eating disorders, but with anything. People are losing themselves trying to live for approval, other people, material things, etc. We get so caught up in what other people think of us, our lives, the choices we make, the items we buy, the “image” we portray that we actually end up losing the most important thing: ourselves. We lose sight of who we are, who we are made to me, who we truly want to be. Because I guarantee you that 99.9% of the people that try to live that way don’t actually want to be, it’s not what they truly desire, but they are so set on this image they think they need to be. Listen to me, you don’t need to be anything other than yourself. You are worthy, beautiful, lovable, smart, successful, deserving, capable whether someone else does or does not think so.

Whoever we live for dictates who we become. And eventually who we become turns into who we are. But it doesn’t have to be this way. If we are so set in our identity, then no matter what other people say, think, or do to us…IT WON’T MATTER because we know it’s not true. Think of it this way. If someone came up to you, pointed to a car, and said that is a machine that washes, dries, and folds all your clothes, you would look at them like they’re crazy. Why? Because you know it’s a car, you know it’s purpose is to get people from location to location and you know all of this because you’ve grown up learning and living it. But now imagine that same person could go back in time (with the car) and talk to a pilgrim. If that person walked up to a pilgrim, pointed to the car and said that is a machine that washes, dries, and folds all your clothes, what would the pilgrim say/think? They might believe them. Why? Because they don’t know any different, they’ve never seen, used or lived with this “car” before so whatever someone tells them about it, they can easily believe and adopt as the truth. The same goes for you. When you live for someone or something else, you lose touch with who you truly are–you become like the pilgrim who has ever seen a car. You allow other people to dictate your truth; you take what they say or think about you as true, and start adopting it as who you are.

But if you were with the pilgrim when the person told them about the machine that washes, dries, and folds all your clothes, you would still not believe them–even when the pilgrim did. You still know it’s a car and what it’s true purpose is, no matter what the pilgrim chooses to believe. The same should be for our lives. Even when other people think certain things about us, or tell people things that aren’t so true, if we know and stand firm in who we are then we don’t lose sight of our true selves. It doesn’t matter what others think about us. What matters is what you think about yourself. And no matter how much you believe that having other people think well of you, approve of your life choices, and “like” you will make you like yourself more…let me tell you, it won’t. The way you start liking yourself, is to love every single fiber and thread you’re created with. And the way you start loving yourself, is to actually get to know yourself on a deeper level; understand your likes and dislikes, your wants and needs, your dreams so big they scare you and your fears so small they terrify you.

This is why I live for myself. Living for myself means standing firm in my identity as a child of God and in who HE says I am meant to be. It means I focus on him; He is guiding my path, my plans, my future. But also just because God is in control, doesn’t mean that I cannot pursue things that I want, enjoy or am passionate about because all of those things God has given to me and blessed me with. Living for myself means that I don’t care if people don’t understand my passion for weightlifting, it doesn’t matter if someone agrees with my healthy lifestyle, it’s okay if no one supports my big dreams or if they disapprove of something in my life. It’s okay because all of these things are what I love to do, they are what I choose to do and they make me who I am today. This doesn’t mean that I don’t care about people. Not at all. I truly want to help people, to inspire them with my story, my passion and the love of God. It just means that when someone says something about me or thinks a certain way about me, I don’t let that dictate who I actually am because I know who I am.

Remember that life is short and we don’t get a second chance to live. So please don’t spend your one opportunity living for the wrong reasons, the wrong people. The most important thing you can do is to love yourself. It sounds silly, but truly loving yourself sets you up for a whole life of love, happiness, positivity, peace, success, and joy. My only question to you is: who are you living for?

Top 5 Tips for Tracking Macros

As many of you probably know, I currently track macros (and have been for about 7-8 months now). I started after my first visit with a sports nutritionist and have continued on ever since. While some days I give myself a break from it (it can get tough at stressful/busy times), I ultimately want to continue doing so because 1) it helps me reach my goals 2) it gives me consistency and 3) I can track my progress. For more of the truth behind macros, check out this post.

Now for you, whether or not you count macros I want to provide you with a list of my top 5 tips for tracking that you can then use and customize to fit your needs, lifestyle, goals, etc. These are just my opinion of the most important ones, the tips that really will help you start counting and continue doing so in a way that best fits your life. So without further ado here is tip #1….

#1: Read the nutrition labels

If you’re going to be tracking what you eat, then you probably should know what’s actually going into your bodies to make up those macro numbers. Not only that but it’s important to realize how a food is going to affect your macros and eating for the day. Maybe you didn’t realize a food was so high in fat-now would be a good time to see if it could realistically fit into your macros for the day or what kinds of switches you may need to make. For example, I only buy fat-free yogurt because I would rather spend my fats on other things such as nut butters, oils, avocado, etc. However, when my fats got higher, I tended to buy fattier meats such as 93/7 ground turkey (rather than 99/1) in order to better fit my macros in for the day.

#2: Get a Scale

First and foremost let me just say that a scale is not 100% necessary, but it is a big step in guaranteeing as much as accuracy as possible–which can be very important in most cases of tracking macros. This is especially crucial in the beginning, when you’re first getting started with weighing, measuring, counting, etc. Now that I’ve been doing it for a few months, there are some things I can decently eyeball (such as avocado, veggies, or cheese) when I have to (i.e. eating out or in a rush), but even now I aim to use my scale as much as possible to ensure that I am accurate in my food tracking.

#3: Plan/Prepare Ahead

This tip can be especially helpful to those with very busy lives like myself. I know some people that put their food into their trackers as they go, but for me, it is much easier to ensure that I hit my macros and don’t stress at the end of the day, if I plan my meals out the night before. Also, going off this tip is to find a way to track your macros whether that be through an app, excel, paper, etc. I suggest using myFitnessPal (MFP) app, but there are other options as well. To plan, I just add everything that I am going to eat the next day into MFP and then if need be I can easily rearrange or add/take away foods to hit my macros rather than stuffing random foods in or going over at the end of the day. Preparing your meals also helps so that you can have meals and snacks prepared to bring do that you know you have foods to keep you on track instead of worrying about finding something macro-friendly while out and about. (**But if on occasion you have to get something out and it isn’t perfect, don’t stress!)

#4: Find foods that work for you

This one is killer! I used to always try new foods and add random foods in each week and then stress about hitting my macros each time. Instead find the foods that works for your lifestyle, your preferences, your body, and your macros and stick to them! This does NOT mean you have to eat the same old boring chicken, rice and veggies for every meal like some people think–you can still enjoy foods, eating what you like and switching things up. But, it is much easier when you stick to the foods that you know are easy to fit into your macros and then change stuff up once your macros decrease, increase or change. For example, I love oatmeal and sweet potatoes, but when my carbs got very high, I had to eat less of these. Otherwise my fiber would be in the 45-55g range–which was way too high and was causing me issues! I still incorporate sweet potatoes and oatmeal into my diet; however, I use less amounts and instead eat more white rice, cream of rice, white bagels/english muffins, etc.

#5: Be patient

Patience is key! You cannot track macros for 2 days and expect instant results–like anything in life! It may take a few weeks of experimenting, trying different splits out, until you find what works best for your body, your activity level, your lifestyle, and your goals–the answer isn’t always easily found! But don’t get discouraged because over time you will find what works for you and it will be smooth sailing (for the most part) from there. Be determined to reach your goals, be patient, and be consistent–and I promise you macros will work for you just like they do for everybody!

Good vs. Bad Food

Let me just start this off with there is NO. SUCH. THING. I just feel like I had to get that out there first to all readers whether you clicked on this because you were interested in learning more, you think there are good and bad foods, or you thought to yourself what does this *&#$ know,  I’mma prove her wrong. No matter how you got here, I’m glad you did. I have a very important message–one that is very personal to me and my experiences–that I want to share with everyone. I have a lot of jumbled thoughts that I’m going to attempt to neatly pack together so stick with me, you won’t be disappointed you did.

As I’m sitting down to write this, I’m actually eating a giant salad–what most people in the health/fitness industry would call health and #micros. Me included. There is no doubt that salads full of veggies have plenty of micronutrients as well as many healthy ingredients. But that does not mean that it is a “good” food nor that you are better than someone eating pizza, a “bad” food. During my ED, this was mentally a big obstacle I struggled facing and living. I would feel superior for eating “clean foods” and look down upon those who didn’t. I would see someone who was skinnier than me eating a burger and fries, or a slice of pie, and think ugh they eat whatever they want (“aka bad”) and still look like that, why can’t I. I’m not kidding–they were horrible thoughts (so was wanting to be as skinny as possible) and they were centered around thinking there was such thing as good and bad food.

Food is food, made up of different amounts of calories and macronutrients. And while yes some foods/meals/ingredients have more nutrition or health or benefit than others, food itself cannot make you fat or cause you to lose weight or be good/bad. Amounts and quantity does this. You could eat nothing but fruits and veggies all day, go over your caloric expenditure for the day and still gain weight (and vice versa with eating nothing but junk food but eating less and losing weight). Specific foods do not cause this therefore they have done nothing to get the label of “good” and “bad”. This is entirely something come up with by society, the diet culture/industry, etc. and it’s wrong! It leads to disordered thoughts, restriction, and overall an unhealthy and unbalanced  lifestyle. Heck this thinking even led me to staying away from white rice and white potatoes for THE longest time (even though I love white rice) because some idiot in society had deemed it “bad” or less than brown rice and sweet potatoes. It’s not bad; it has less fiber, it’s different, but it’s not bad, good, better or worse.

So now that we have established that, let’s see why people think this way. Mostly it’s because people who lost weight cut out all carbs and ate nothing but boring salads all day so we think we should follow that. Especially because that one guy ate pizza and cookies and gained weight, so we must stay away from those foods, they’re BAD. Well let me tell you the person lose the weight because cutting carbs cuts water weight and b) salads and healthier foods tend to have less calories therefore allowing person to lose weight. And the person who ate junk, ate too much of it. Again it’s the amount not the actual foods. Of course there are foods that are more or less nutritious, but that doesn’t correlate to good and bad. Everything in moderation is okay. Make sure you hear me loud and clear and understand: MODERATION IS KEY!!! Get the good vs. bad food thinking out of your mind and focus on finding a balance that is sustainable.

So here’s my suggestion when it comes to this thinking. Whether it be an 80/20, 70/30, 90/10…use this balance. Fill most of your diet with lean proteins, healthy fats, whole grains, rice, potatoes, fruits, veggies, etc. AKA foods that have more healthy ingredients, benefits, and overall may be healthier for you.  But still find room for those items that are less nutritious too. Maybe that’s ice cream or a burger for you. For me, for the most part, it’s sugary cereal in my dessert bowls, Halo Top ice cream, and granola/granola bars; occasionally it’ll be pizza, froyo, burgers, etc. But no matter what I eat, it is not good nor is it bad. It’s food, it’s fueling my body and it’s making me happy.

Team Update: Overcoming Adversity

Since the last time I talked to you was about 3 weeks ago at the end of preseason, I wanted to give y’all a short update on the team, season, how I’m doing, etc. Along with this also comes the topic I want to touch on: overcoming adversity in any and all situations. You’ll see why here in a sec…

Our season has just started, but we’re already getting into the swing of things, facing tough teams. We had our first official game this past weekend as part of a tournament in California. At the tournament 2 out of the 4 teams we face were ranked in the top 25 in the country (we were ranked 10th at the time). We ended up going 2-2 for the weekend, although one game we really beat ourselves therefore making it possible to have been 3-1 this weekend. But even though we didn’t achieve the outcome we desired, I think it was a great learning experience for our team and as individual players on skills we need to work on, being disciplined, competitive, etc. We found areas to improve upon and tactics to do so. We won’t see any of those same teams again until the regional tournament in mid-november which means we have plenty of time to get better and come out stronger next time we play those opponents.

Every team, of course, faces obstacles at one point or another in a season. And it’s how you come together and work as a team to overcome those that ultimately leads to growth–both individually and collectively. This is the situation we are stuck in currently. During pre-season and our first scrimmage, two of our starters from last year got injured (broken foot and ACL tear) and are now out for either a great chunk or all of season. This obviously means that spots have to be filled and a huge obstacle must be faced and conquered. That’s why I think our tournament in California this past week was an eye-opener to what we must do and how we must play to continue getting better without our two starters. Our team is no worse or better off because of these injuries–it is just different now. A different team, different roles, different dynamics, different strategies, etc. We had a great loss with those injuries, but now it’s time to overcome that adversity for the better and still come out on top.

And this is the big message I wanted to hammer home here. In sports, relationships, jobs, the craziness of life there are going to be challenges you face, obstacles that get in your way and events/people who are determined to tear you down. It’s tough, but it’s part of life. And it’s part of how you grow. As much as we like things easy, I honestly do not believe that anyone would like to breeze through life totally care-free and easy. You may think you might at first, but then it becomes monotonous. There’s no room for improvement, growth, strength; we wouldn’t need people around to help us; it would honestly be kind of boring. Now, I’m not saying that people wish their life was hard and miserable nor should you. But it’s those tough moments that you find out what you’re really made of and capable of. It’s those challenges that allow you to grow into who you can and want to become.

When you face adversity whether that be an injury, a hard task, a disrupt in your life, etc., change your attitude towards it. Instead of viewing it as something awful and dwelling on it/the past, look to the future and all that’s possible now. View it as a chance to make yourself, your team, your relationships, your life BETTER! When life knocks you down, use adversity as the fuel that lights your fire to get back up, work even harder, and come out ahead in the future. Overcoming adversity isn’t as hard if you just decide to start changing your attitude and mindset towards it.

Remember this: When you view the obstacle as the opportunity, you will overcome.