Don’t Compare Your Journey

I think this message is something that is a necessity for everyone to hear and really take to heart. It can be applied to any life situation (job, hobby, family, relationship, social status, fitness, etc.), but in this blog I’m going to focus mainly on fitness journeys.

Don’t compare your journey.

It’s definitely not the easiest, but it’s so important to understand and here’s why:

“Comparison the thief of joy”

It really is. Generally when we compare–no matter what it is we actually compare–we see others at their best and ourselves at our worst. Whether it be bodies, relationship, social status, possessions, money, happiness, life in general, etc. our focus is what someone else has that’s better than us. This steals all joy from the good that might be happening right in our very faces. But even if you compare against someone to make yourself seem or feel “better off” “higher up” “more X” you aren’t truly happy. You’re getting these feelings by tearing someone else down, probably because you don’t want to face your inner demons yourself. True joy should not be about building yourself up by tearing others down; true joy comes from being confident in who you are and what you are doing and still having room to bring others up with you.

I get that it’s hard. Being into fitness and an athlete, comparisons happen all the time. Who has more muscle, who’s in better shape, stronger, faster, more skilled, etc. and while sometimes coaches have to compare players to pick who starts, it’s not fair for us to determine our worth around comparisons. Here’s why. You don’t know what someone has done, been doing, been through or is planning to do to get to where they are and want to be. You don’t know the time, the effort, the resources, etc. that someone had that could be different from your situation–not better or worse, just different. Think about it: you could be comparing your day 30 with someone’s day 300. A month vs. almost a year…I would say there SHOULD be some pretty big differences there.

In the fitness industry, a lot of factors go into your ability, your form, your physique, your training, your strength…even what healthy looks like for you in your life. Maybe they don’t work or work from home and have a ton more hours to spend at the gym, maybe they grew up lifting as an athlete whereas you just found the sport, maybe they’ve chosen to fully dedicate themselves 100% to being strict in workouts and nutrition whereas you want to choose to be more balanced (either way is okay!). Maybe (most likely actually) their genetics are WAY DIFFERENT than yours meaning that how and where they gain muscle/fat as well as how long it takes will be different. Some people have fast metabolisms and lean out easily, but have a hard time to gain any muscle (And vice versa). In any of these situations there is no right or wrong, there is just each person’s unique journey that they are on for themselves–to better their lives each and every day.

The only person who should matter in your journey is you. And because of this, your only comparison should be to your previous self. Compare where you;ve been, where you’re, and where you are going instead of comparing your now to someone else’s now. As I mentioned, your beginning could be someone’s 6 years in and it’s not fair to beat yourself up by this by comparing. Instead compare your beginning, your middle, your craziness in between to where you want to be–and then don’t stop there. Be so focused on improving your own life that you don’t have time to compare it to others’. Because in reality it doesn’t matter what others are doing, how they look or feel; it all matters how you are doing on your own fitness journey. Build others up as they progress through their journey all while remaining confident in yours. This industry has so much support, community, inspiration, etc. if you let it instead of using every platform to tear yourself (or others down) through comparison.

As one final thought, I’ll leave you with this to reflect on.

Nobody else can make the changes you want in your life, so why should you let your progress be defined by what others have done in theirs?

Simple answer, you shouldn’t. Don’t compare your journey, and I promise you, you will find an abundance of joy, happiness, support, progress, and growth through it.

Why I Lift

If you’ve been following me for a while, you probably know that I love weightlifting. I’ve done a weightlifting series, written about the benefits, and just talked about it in my story and other posts because, well, it’s my passion! I write about it, post about it, talk about it because I love it and that’s what I’ve chosen to fill my life with (as much as I can of course). Now, lately, i’ve heard through social media and YouTube of many weightlifters, athletes, bodybuilders, etc. who get “shamed” for lifting because they only care about their looks, they’re narcissists, douchey–whatever you want to call it. And while I thankfully have never experienced this, I am still a part of that group being incorrectly called out.

Now are there some people who only lift for those above reasons, probably yes, but like any “stereotype” they are few & far between–the outliers–causing the rest of us to get a bad rap. So today I want to talk about why I personally lift. I think that anyone, whether or not their passion/life is involved with fitness, should always be knowing their why. Why they started, why they’re doing it, why they want to continue, etc. Knowing your why can help you push through when times get hard (very often), it helps you live a life you love, confident in what you are doing, and it helps shape who you are as a person. If you can’t think of a why, then consider it’s time to move on. Your why is fundamental.

So, why do I lift?

I lift because I love it. I enjoy pushing myself to lift more weight, for more reps, to try difficult movements and conquer them. I love knowing that I am physically making a change in my body, mind, and life. From the moment I step foot in the gym, until I walk out (or limp if it’s leg day ya know) I just love it. The whole process of working on myself, for myself, by myself to become better and stronger is something that I look forward to carrying through my entire life.

I lift because it makes me confident. Unlike those accusations of being too focused on one’s self or body, I struggle to love my body. If you’ve read my story, you know that I hardcore struggled in the past with body dysmorphia, with accepting my body for what it currently is and loving it at all stages. I just wanted to be skinny. But, when I stop foot in that gym and start lifting, all those thoughts go away. I’m no longer consumed by how my body looks, but rather what my body can do!! It doesn’t matter if I’m skinny when I’m squatting more than my bodyweight, it doesn’t matter that I tend to hold my fat on my lower belly when I am fighting through the last reps to BUILD my muscle and body. Lifting has shown me that while I still struggle, I no longer want to be tiny and skinny. I want to be strong and healthy and muscular and a freakin’ badass in the gym.

I lift because of what it’s taught me.

Lifting is much bigger than just who it builds physically, it builds your character, your attitude on life, you as a person, how you live your life. It has taught me discipline and perseverance. Results take time, goals take time and through the process you have to be discipline to hit your lifts and nutrition. Persevere over challenges, bounce back from setbacks and come at it even harder and stronger than before. Lifting has taught me to set goals, focus hard to achieve them, and work for it. It has taught me to live a life that I love–no matter what anyone else’s opinion is. It has shown me that I can become whoever and whatever I choose to set my mind to be.

I lift because it makes me stronger.

Not only physically, but mentally too. Sure, the muscle gains are evident. But the confidence to live the life I love, to be damn proud of what I am doing, and to fight for what I want isn’t as easily seen–but it’s there alright!!! The mental toughness to push through hard times, to not quit or give-up. Lifting has even helped my mental health by reminding me to listen to my body. Sure, I’m pushing myself in the gym to get physically stronger. But if I ever want to see that progress, lifting reminds me that I need to take care of resting and my mental health as well.

I lift because it makes me happy.

This last one kind of bundles the previous paragraphs into one. All of these things that lifting does for me makes me happy. I’m not always a cheerful, positive person, but lifting helps change my perspective and brings me joy in what I am doing and who I am becoming. And honestly, your why should be bringing you happiness otherwise why are you doing it?

Lifting is helping me build myself–mentally, physically, in and outside of the gym, my character, who I am, and who I am becoming.

This is why I lift.

It’s Okay to not Know

I originally wanted this post to be about an update, but I didn’t know where to start. Then, I kept changing what I was doing, having different thoughts and feelings–it was all to chaotic to put into words. But what I realized through this is that I don’t know, and that’s okay! It’s okay not to know. It may be a bit sporadic, but the message will be there and hopefully this blog can help you with anything you’re going through whether or not you can directly relate to me and my situation.

So at first, I was going to mention that I wasn’t gaining much weight so I had been increasing my macros. I’m essentially on a “reverse-diet” so this is appropriate; however, I don’t have a coach–it’s all just me. Yes, it can be frustrating at times because I don’t see a lot of progress from my own eye and I am kind of scrambling around blindfolded trying to see what my body works best with macros wise–and let me tell you, I’m still searching. I’m constantly feeling tired and bloated and just blah even after increasing proteins then decreasing carbs, then increasing fats and carbs, etc. Now, I don’t mean to make this a whole thing a ranting session, so I’ll stop there.

Anyway, I weigh myself when I go home to my parents house (every 1-2 weeks) because I don’t have a scale at my apartment and I found that weight gain had been slow: so I increased my calories to 2600. Another 2 weeks went by and I gained about a pound in those 2 weeks eating on average 2,570. I say average because I’m not perfect. I strive to hit my macros perfectly every day, but it hasn’t been easy for me. I’m never more than 3-5 off from a macro, but sometimes I went a little lower and some days I had “extreme hunger” and continued eating after having all my meals for the day. I’m doing my best and that still caused me to gain a pound which is progress so I decided to increase up to 2700 (2697 to be exact).

Well, that fell apart. I don’t know if it was long time coming or just this week or what, but I felt overwhelmed trying to hit those. Not only because the amount of food, but just stressing to hit my macros and plan since I work full-time. I would spend 15 minutes a day trying to plan out what I was eating the next and massively reconfiguring it all when it didn’t reach my macros. It was obsessive for me and not healthy. I also had been super annoyed with meal prep for the past few weeks too. Now I know no one likes meal prepping, it’s just something you have to do if you want to hit your goals, but I never minded it until recently. I had made so much food progress recently buying bagels, bacon, things not on my grocery list, etc. and trying to have more food freedom so this was hard setback. On top of this, I’ve still been constantly tired, bloated (even when waking up), and having horrible digestive issues. I decided it was time for a change.

That change leads me up to where I am today. 2 days into 2700 calories, I decided to stop tracking and counting and take a much needed break. I’m not saying give up when things are challenging, or don’t push yourself to your goals; I’m saying understand when you reached your limits…or in my case ran right past them. Currently, my training schedule for volleyball isn’t conducive to a true bulk. And while yes I need to keep gaining weight to be healthier, I’m not in the place to see the fruits of eating a lot, stuffing myself even when full, hitting high macros, stressing about it, etc. I’m pretty sure I want to do a true bulk once season is over, but for now I want to feel my best and perform my best, I want to learn to try to listen to my body more and to not track.

I’ve been tracking, weighing, and counting for a while (at least 1 year) and have been researching into it so I know what foods to eat to fuel my body and the right amounts, etc. I know I won’t eat as much as I need to everyday and honestly in the place I am right now, that’s okay. Some days I’ll probably eat more and some days I may eat less; some days I may be ravenous and others I may have to still force myself to eat because I can’t trust my hunger cues yet. Do I know if this is the best decisions for me? No. I don’t know if it’s the perfect solution (or if one exists), I don’t know if I should be tracking or if my hunger cues are okay, when I’ll start tracking again (probably loosely during season) or what I want to do in the future with all this.

This is my point. It’s okay to not know or have a clear picture. Sometimes you need to step break, take a break and just breathe. Take time to figure it out, to experiment and try new ways of living and eating. Living a healthy lifestyle is all about finding what works for you at that moment in your life–this will change as you go through stages and seasons. Instead of stressing about not knowing or making the “right” choice, choose to embrace the journey. Pick a path, try it out, and assess from there. You won’t always know, heck you may never know, but that’s kind of the beauty, isn’t it? As hard as it is, it’s okay to not know. Not knowing allows you the freedom to look around, experiment, and choose what feels best. It allows you to find what you works and what doesn’t. It allows you to realize that not knowing is normal, it’s okay. Embrace the unknown.

Quick and Easy Breakfasts at Work

Since I’ve started working full-time at my internship this summer, I’ve had to learn how to work around my workout, work schedule as far as eating goes. No, it’s not as easy as it was at school because I can’t whip something up fresh whenever I feel like it. This is especially true if I workout before work, which I usually do since I often am too tired to want to workout afterwards. But this means that breakfast is at my desk, and it needs to be big and filling in order to refuel my workout and fuel me for my day. (Read here for why breakfast is so important)

Because I didn’t want to get bored with food, and too much oatmeal hurts my stomach, I came up with a few creative solutions to make for breakfast at work. I make all of these the night before as I am packing my lunch and snacks for the next day, and just reheat it (if need be) at work. Now, I know not everyone’s work is the same so maybe you can’t eat at your desk/work or you don’t have a kitchen close to use and if so, some of these ideas will work and some won’t. But for the most part, I bet everyone has the access to some type of kitchen area and can make these meals work for their next breakfast at the desk! I have included my meals/recipes and occasional pictures (not the best quality since taken on my iPhone, but they work!) Also, if you don’t workout before work or need to eat at your desk, here are some other great healthier breakfast alternatives to fast food for your morning!

Let’s get to it!

1. Savory Egg/Egg White Stuffed Crepe

I found inspiration for this on Instagram, and then confirmed it to fit my needs. Also, note that my pan I cook the eggs/whites in wasn’t big enough to make it thin and crepe like, so after trying to the first time, I just made it the bottom layer of my dish.

Ingredients

  • 1 egg and 2-3 egg whites
  • Oatmeal/Cream of rice (amount of choice)
  • Peanut butter/Powdered Peanut Butter  (I use PB2)
  • Fruit to top (I use strawberries and bananas)

First, cook the beaten eggs/egg whites in a pan on medium heat. Cover the pan to let it cook the top too (bubbles may form, you can pop them). Check on it every minute or so and when it is cooked enough on top and bottom (usually 3-4 minutes), flip it then take off the heat. Add the egg crepe to the bottom of a tupperware.

Next, cooked oatmeal/cream of rice as says on package. I personally mix the two because I need to keep my fiber lower (I get way too much) so I do 20-30 g oatmeal and 1-1.3 servings cream of rice. While that is cooking in the microwave, cut up and prepare your fruit toppings and  seal in a plastic bag or small tupperware. Once the cream of rice/oatmeal is done, add it to the top of the crepe in the tupperware (you can also mix in protein powder before putting it onto the crepe). As far as toppings go, I add peanut butter to the tupperware meal. I have PB2 also in a small container to mix with water in the morning and then after heating up the breakfast, I add the PB2 and fruit!

2. Egg Scramble

Eggs are super easy to whip up the night before, store in a container and heat up the next morning! Add in veggies, meats, potatoes, etc! To get more carbs, I usually add hashbrowns, potatoes, and/or a tortilla to the eggs (tortilla and hashbrowns pictured). I also will toast an english muffin or bagel the MORNING OF–before leaving for my workout/work–and then just reheat at work. No, it doesn’t stay crispy, but it tastes delicious and works perfectly for me. you could also pack a packet of oatmeal or pre-made oatmeal as well to add carbs. I will also top my eggs with cheese, salsa, reduced-sugar ketchup, avocado, etc. the night before and it works well heated up still.

3. Overnight Oats

These are a classic for anyone who needs a quick, easy, and convenient breakfast in the morning! I either eat My very Berry Overnight Oats or Peanut Butter and Jelly ones (recipe below).

Ingredients

  • Rolled oats
  • 1 cup of Milk of choice (I use cashew milk)
  • Protein Powder (optional)
  • 1 tbsp. Peanut Butter (I use natural only; Krema/Crazy Richards is my favorite)
  • Banana, sliced
  • Strawberries (other berries/fruit could be substituted here as well)

In a tupperware or container, add desired amount of rolled oats (I use 50-70 g). Add 1 cup of milk and stir around. Next, mix in desired amounts protein powder (I use 15-20g and PEScience Snickerdoodle is my go-to). Swirl/stir in the peanut butter and stick in the fridge for the next day. I add in the cut up fruit the morning of, but you could add it in the night before as well. Also, crumpling up a rice cake and mixing it in before you eat it tastes great, gives it a nice crunch, and adds extra carbs if you need them.

So there are my go-to breakfast at work! They’re all super simple, easy and delicious–just what I need for my day! If you want other suggestions and tips for staying healthy while working, check out my blog post here! Also, if you have any ideas I would love to hear them below!