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?

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.

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.