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.

Finding Your Identity

This is a topic that has been on my mind the past few weeks from talks with people at work, posts on social media, and my own thoughts/reflections.

Lately between my full-time internship, coaching, workouts, and just personal stuff I’ve been feeling very busy–which isn’t necessarily a bad thing because I love all the experiences and opportunities that I have. But, this also means that I’ve been caught up in trying to balance it and succeed in all areas at the same time, and this has led to many “failures” in my eyes. Feeling as if I’m not good enough for my job, stressing about eating in recovery yet not putting in the effort to ensure I hit my macros and calories every day so that I gain the healthy weight I need to, not being able to spend enough time as I would like on coaching…all these things and thoughts begin to pile up and overwhelm me. I understand this is all part of life, but when I start to see myself as successful or not by how well I do in all these areas, it becomes a problem. My identity is no longer found in where it should be, but rather in what I do and how well I do it–and that is not or should not be the case at all.

I recently got the chance to speak about this in-depth with someone at work and it was just an amazing conversation to be able to have. She and I are very similar and when she mentioned getting tied up in her work, being a perfectionist, and wanting to accomplish so many things, I instantly related. Feeling upset for the rest of the day if a business meeting went bad or I made a tiny mistake in my work; feeling pressure from myself to go above and beyond and succeed at work; struggling to find what I was passionate about and wanted to do with my future. All of these moments were times I put my identity and worth in the so-called “success” of myself, my work, and my actions. Instead I need to do something that I have both heard and known for a long time, but now I need to really work on connecting to and living my life around it: my identity is found in the Lord.

Whether or not you’re a believer or follower of Christ, I hope that you can find some peace in this message.My identity, who I am, is already set by the creator of the universe; I am to be a child of God, one that he loves so, so much. God doesn’t care if I bombed a work meeting, forgot to do something, know my future plans, failed to focus time on my recovery, etc. because he doesn’t see me as those things. He sees me as a child of God who he has already claimed as his even while knowing my past, present and future. Remembering this allows the pressure to be taken off of me in all these areas because all I can do is my best. Going in, I know that I am going to do my best that I can, but that I won’t be able to accomplish everything–it’s impossible. But with God, all things are possible. I’m not saying he will magically give you the energy and strength to do 30 hours of work in 24 hours, but I am saying that you don’t have to define yourself anymore by what you do or don’t get done, by what you “succeed” or “fail” at. Instead you can find your identity in Christ, and be at peace knowing that is enough. No matter what else you accomplish or don’t accomplish, simply being His is enough. You are enough in him.

When I try and handle everything on my own and take on an internship, side job, workouts, personal development, recovery, social time, etc. all on my own, I get worn out and feel weak at my inability to succeed at everything. But when I already know that my strength and help comes from the Lord and that in him I have peace, rest, and renewal–it isn’t a burden to bear. I don’t let it affect me because I am not defined by any of that. I simply do my best and am satisfied at that because God fills any and all voids or gaps of joy and satisfaction. When you stop letting things of this world define you–how you look, your athletic ability, your relationships or number of friends, money, job, success at work–you can start to see that you were made for so much more for a greater purpose.

I couldn’t balance or handle trying to be super successful at my internship, fully recovered (physically and mentally), the best and strongest athlete I could be, a top coach, a big social media presence, a daughter, friend, etc. No one can and in life there are bound to be moments of failure–even in Christ. But the difference is that I no longer let those moments (or any moments really) define me, who I am, my worth or my purpose because those are already set for me in Christ.

Finding your identity is a huge step of growth and development of who you are as a person and what you do. I am still an intern, a coach, an athlete, an ED soldier, a strong, healthy body, but my identity isn’t in those things, but in God. I am free to be me and live my life because I know that at the end of the day, no matter what I do or what happens, I am a daughter of the one true King. And for me, that is enough. I pray the same for you. Find your identity in the One who has already given you the identity of being loved, worthy, and simply enough–no matter what! Because I promise you, you are all of that and so much more.

Most Girls…

Yes, if you’ve been listening to the radio recently this is the name of song. And yes that is exactly what I am going to be talking about today. Why would you be talking about a song on your blog? Well one, because I can (#sorrynotsorry). But on a more serious note and more importantly, because this song–actually just a few lines of this one song–has so much to offer in terms of a great message!!

“You know some days you feel so good in your own skin
But it’s okay if you wanna change the body that you came in
‘Cause you look greatest when you feel like a damn queen
We’re all just playing a game in a way, trying to win at life”

First, right off the bat, I love that it mentions that some days you feel good in your body because you should! That doesn’t mean that all the time, every day, you will feel great about yourself, but that doesn’t’ mean you shouldn’t always  love yourself right where you are. I’m all for having goals, wanting to change, and working hard to accomplish it–I do that with my body every day. But in the middle of the process, still love yourself, your body, who you are…everything about yourself! Don’t wait until you look a certain way or hit a certain goal to love yourself because you’re  going to constantly be fishing for “what’s next”. Yes there will be days you feel great about yourself; yes it’s okay to want to change or improve your body; but it’s not okay to not love yourself every single minute–no matter whether you’re feeling good in your own skin or not. Because at the end of the day, that’s you and that’s what you have and it’s a waste not to embrace every bit of it.

As I mentioned before and the song says in the second line above, it’s okay to want to change the body that you came in. I think society almost shames people now if they want to change their body composition through lifting or working out calling us “superficial”, “selfish”, “conceited”,”ED issues” etc. Yes there are times when people want to change their bodies because of mental health issues–I used to be there. But now I seriously work so hard to change my body because I love it; I want to be the best I can be and I love feeling my body push and seeing the results of my dedication, my discipline, and my hard work. And if you do want to change your body, make sure it is because you want to and not for anyone else–do it for you! Personally, I want to be strong as hell, build muscle and have it show. Some people want to lose weight, some people want to get skinnier, some want to stay right where they are–whatever it is do it out of love for your body, your life, and most importantly, your health.

Lastly, the line “you look greatest when you feel like a damn queen” is my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE. So much is said in one short line. First, notice how it says you look greatest when you feel NOT you feel greatest when you look. This is because your feelings should not be based on how you look. Granted I do believe that when you fuel yourself right and take care of your health and fitness you will be in better shape and feel better in general…but that does not mean that you based your feelings based on how you think your body looks (or how it does). I’ve been there, I was at a good, healthy weight, I was above that and I was way below that too and no matter what I still didn’t feel good because I didn’t think I looked good. That mentality is so messed up! As mentioned before, whether or not you like how you look or think you look how you should/want or not, love yourself while working towards those goals! Because I promise you, when you feel good about yourself, are confident, love yourself and are proud to own who you are–that’s when you are going to shine, to radiate, and to look your best–no matter how your body physically lines up.

Overall from this song and this post, I hope you understand that it’s okay to not always feel the best about yourself–there are good days and bad days for everyone. But when you truly embrace where you are in your journey, and who you are now and what you are working towards, you are going to have a much more positive outlook on life, yourself and everything you do. When you start to love yourself through the process and find a healthy lifestyle that you love to live, you will start going about life feeling like the damn queen that you are.

It’s Not a One-Size Fits All

Today I want to talk about a slightly more serious topic. This idea came to me after seeing someone on instagram post about their interaction with a friend the other day. Basically the other person told the girl I follow (who struggled with binge eating disorder) “you’ve always been skinny, so how could you have had binge eating?” Now this person wasn’t saying this to be rude, but rather out of a place of misunderstanding. Most people when they hear “eating disorder”, “anorexia”, “binge” they have this stereotype of how a person will look, feel, think, etc. That’s why I wanted to write this post: EDs are not a one-size fits all.

Granted, there are signs that can point to an eating disorder, but just because someone is small doesn’t mean they have anorexia, or just because they’re  a healthy weight doesn’t mean they’ve  never struggled with an eating disorder before. And I think a lot of this comes from a place of people thinking that EDs are purely a  physical issue. While yes the physical toll is the most obvious and easiest to see, the bigger challenge is the mental aspect of the disease. No one sees this part as well, but it is there. Even if the person is a healthy weight or weight restored or back to their pre-ED weight in recovery, does not mean that the person’s mind is healed and restored.

When I first started my eating disordered thoughts, I was 155 (I am 5’10”). Not overweight by any means, but my mind thought so. I had an eating disorder at 145, at 140, even when I got to my lowest of 131 although I wasn’t skin and bones like you may see with some people, but I still had an ED. Physical is only part of it and someone’s looks don’t dictate necessarily what they have been through/are going through. Each person’s journey, battle, and recovery look different so you really have to get to know the person first. This was the main reason I wanted to write this post: to inform people–whether or not you have known or currently know someone struggling with an ED–that it’s not a stereotype look, not a one-size fits all journey, but rather an individualized physical and mental battle that will look different for everyone! Jen Brett has a great video on this–watch from 7:00-7:45.

The second reason I wanted to write this is geared towards those who currently are or have struggled with an ED and have had comments from someone. Maybe it was your friends or family, a relative, classmate or professor who said a comment similar to the one I started this post out with. Perhaps they said you didn’t look like you had an ED, you were a healthy weight, you were fine, etc. I want to tell you right now that those comments do not define you or what you have been through. Just because you may not look “typical ED” (or even if you do) does not mean that you haven’t fought those battles and dealt with those thoughts, emotions, actions, etc. that come with it.

I’ve had something similar happen to myself from someone who I won’t mention. But when I would talk about my eating disorder recovery, they would say “you’re eating and gaining weight, you never got that low nor looked skin and bones” in a way meaning that they didn’t understand how I could’ve had an eating disorder or talk about recovery in such a way. I’m not gonna lie, it hurt because I know what I have put myself through and what I’ve been through and put my mind and body through during my battle with orthorexia and currently recovery. If this has happened to you, don’t be discouraged and don’t get angry. Most likely this person is coming from a  place of not understanding and lack of knowledge, so use this time to inform them whether that be by talking to them, showing them videos or articles, etc. And understand that their comments don’t take anything away from you.

To wrap up, I just want to say that I am not trying to call anyone out or make you feel bad for what you may have said or done. Instead, I want to inform everyone of the truth behind the looks and feels of having an eating disorder because it really is a unique process and journey for everyone. The best thing anyone can do is be positive, keep an open mind, and be understanding of everyone because you never truly know their story or where they are coming from until you get to know them beyond the surface.