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.

Healthy, Lower Carb Substitutes

I want to provide helpful content to y’all so as I was devouring my spaghetti squash for lunch I thought why not do a post on lower-carb options? Now please note, I am not stating that carbs are bad and I am not advocating low-carb in any any!! (Unless of course you’re on prep). Carbs are GOOD, carbs are FUEL–they’re necessary for our energy, strength, functionality, etc. However, I know not everyone’s carbs can be up super high like bodybuilders, reverse dieters, those in recovery, etc. There are people out there who have a lower carb diet and don’t eat 250, 350, 350+ carbs a day. Even for those on higher carbs, these substitutes can be a good way to increase veggies and save carbs for elsewhere too. Plus they’re all too dang delicious to not try.

So with all that said, here are some ideas for lower-carb swap outs and substitutes that are just as delicious as the originals, when needed.

1. Spaghetti Squash

This one had to be first because it is my NUMBER ONE! Sorry for the all caps, but seriously if you have NOT tried it yet…just go do it. Right now, I’ll wait. To me, spaghetti squash sometimes tastes better than pasta (yes, I just said that) and it is a perfect substitute because it’s all veggie. The texture is spot on and it’s as flexible with your toppings and mix-ins as regular pasta. This is the recipe I use. You can also just cook the spaghetti squash the same way without mix-ins and add your own after it’s cooked too. You could also mix regular pasta with spaghetti squash.

2. Zoodles

Zoodles are another low-carb pasta substitute, but to me this takes a little more work and a little less exact match as the spaghetti squash, but still delicious! You will need a spiralizer of some sort to create the noodles out of the zucchini, and then either can eat them raw or cook them. I prefer to cook them a little (to soften them) with my sauce, meat, and veggie additives. You could also mix regular pasta and the zoodles too.

3. Butternut Squash

Butternut squash can be substituted instead of sweet potatoes either making them as fries, cubes, chips, etc. I’ve never made fries out of them, but I do know some stores even sell them cut up like fries either fresh or frozen so check your local grocery store. I have used cubed squash though in random bowls like I would potato.

4. Lettuce Wraps/Boats

Although some people may cringe at the thought of replacing breadier (is that a word? it is now) carbs with lettuce, but it can still be done and made delicious! I have made chinese chicken wraps with lettuce and have been meaning to try taco lettuce boats (basically a taco in a cup of lettuce instead of a tortilla). Lettuce could also be used as a bun for burgers or sandwiches. They do tend to fall apart a little more if you over-stuff them, but the crunch from the wrap is great texture with the meal!

5. Salad

Lastly, I know this isn’t really a subsitute because salad is a meal/food anyway, BUT almost anything you make can be turned into a salad if lower carbs are needed. Examples include taco salad, burger salad (burger and toppings just mixed with lettuce), chinese salad, etc. Just do be careful that you don’t add too many other less-nutritious options to the salad that it actually becomes worse for you.

While I love carbs and they are definitely important and necessary, sometimes you need to eat lower carbs in life or in a situation, OR you just want to eat lower carbs. That’s okay as long as you are making sure that you are getting enough carbs for your body, your needs, your activity level, etc. These options are all veggies so they still do have carbs, but they are lower-carb substitutes for you to try. If you have any other ideas or recipes you love, please share them in the comments section below!

 

Day in the Life

A week into season now and I’m loving it, but let me tell you: it has been a blur! Last week was filled with 3-a-days, meetings, conditioning challenges, practice, scrimmages, and team bonding and now that school has started things have died down as far as the amount of practice goes. But the added business of school gets counted in as well so basically, I’m still gonna be busy. But I love the grind, the time and effort put in so that hopefully at the end of season we have some bling on our hands from winning a national championship.

With that said, because the life of a student-athlete (SA) in college is MUCH different than most other just regular students, I thought I would give a quick glimpse into a day in my life for a normal or average week. One thing is that our schedules can often change a lot week to week so flexibility is really key in keeping afloat and not drowning in stress and anxiety. Another big part of a SA’s schedule is that it is generally more structured as far as the fact that we have designated practice and lifting times each week. This is definitely nice, but it can also be difficult because this means that we have to plan our classes, social time, studying, etc. around these designated times rather than doing them as we please. We are still normal students, taking just as many classes as others and balancing duties, responsibilities, issues, social activities, etc. that comes with being in college and just simply living. One of the reasons I chose to go D3 is because there is an emphasis on being a student first (hence why we are called student-athletes and not the other way around). I like being able to focus on my studies–the real reason I am in college– while still competing at a very high level in my sport. With that here is my schedule:

Monday

We have practice from 7-9 am(but we have to be there around 6:20-6:30 to set up and warm-up which means I’m up anywhere between 5:40 and 5:50 am). Then we go lift at the weight room from 9-9:45.

I don’t have class until the afternoon so from 10-12:20 I’ll shower, get ready for the day, maybe do some homework or run an errand, etc. Then, I’ll eat lunch and head out to class from 1:00-5:15. Once back, I’ll make dinner and spend the rest of the night doing homework. Sometimes when I don’t have homework, I’ll blog or see if there is an event on campus (like a soccer game).

Around 8:00 pm I get my night snack and then get ready for bed, aiming to be in bed by 8:30 pm (doesn’t often happen, but I try!) I’ll read for about 10 minutes and then go to sleep.

Tuesday

I only have classes M&W (plus 1 online class) so Tuesdays are a day to catch up on errands, cleaning/laundry, homework, my online class, etc.

Tuesdays are normally game days. If not, we will just have practice from 7-10. If so, and it’s a home game we will have a serve and pass from 8-9 am. Then, we will be at the locker room round 5 pm (for a 7 pm game) and start getting ready, etc. If it’s away, we leave early afternoon (around 1-2 pm) to drive wherever we are playing. We will then do the same thing before the 7 pm game and drive back that night–usually arriving close to midnight.

Wednesday

Wednesday is the exact same schedule as Monday for me. Practice, weights, and classes are at the same time. Later into season, Wednesday mornings will be study hall for those who need it and then weights from 9:00-9:45 am. I don’t have to go to study hall so just weights for me (yay for sleeping in until 7:30!)

Thursday

We have morning practice from 7-10 am.

Again, no classes on Thursdays so much like Tuesdays–I can use Thursdays to catch up on things. Especially since we travel almost every weekend, I am really able to finish homework and pack for the weekend.

Friday

Game day! We usually leave around 8 am to travel to our destination to play 1-2 games that afternoon/night. Then, either Friday night after the game or Saturday morning we will travel to another destination for a second game that weekend. Then, Saturday night we drive home usually arriving anywhere between 11pm-2am Sunday morning.

If it’s a home game (we have very few), we will again do a morning serve and pass. Arrive around 4:30-5pm in the locker room and get ready for the game at 7 or 7:30.

Saturday

As mentioned above, we have a second game on Saturday, generally in another location. So we either get up Saturday morning to drive or get up and get ready to play that afternoon.

Sunday

We are off! NCAA rules say we have to have one day off a week and this is usually it. The only time it isn’t is if we fly somewhere like CA or another state and travel back Sunday (then we would get Monday off)–but this rarely happens. I use Sundays to grocery shop, meal prep, clean, do laundry, catch up on homework, and prepare for the next week to start it all again!

I hope y’all enjoyed a glimpse into a day in the life for an average week. It is busy and takes lots of time management and effort to make it all work, but I love the life I live and wouldn’t trade it for anything!