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.

Motivational Monday #9

For today’s #MOTIVATIONALMONDAY, I come at it from a a little bit of a different angle. Sure, it’s of course still meant to motivate you and inspire you (that’s kinda the point of these), but I want to do so through a time of reflection. A time to look back at how hard you have worked these past 8 weeks. A time where you can appreciate what you’ve done–whether or not you’ve met your goals. I want you to see your own journey (not those with the seemingly “perfect journey” on social media) that you’ve taken and use that as your continued motivation!

A lot of times when we are trying to reach our goals and achieve great things, we are told not to look back. After all, we aren’t going that way. This is true, but what it means is don’t look back with regret and wish you could go back in time, don’t dwell and live in the past. However, in our own individual journeys, especially if it’s a fitness-related one, it’s important to look back to see how far you really have come. It can be frustrating to feel like you haven’t made any progress physically, emotionally, mentally, relationship-wise, etc. when we look at the short-term. But change takes time! Your body isn’t going to miraculously change in 2 weeks or even 2 months. There will be small changes here and there that over the course of time, will amount to a big transformation. But the only way you’ll see that is if you look back to where you started and see just how far you’ve come.

So often, we find ourselves in the”go-go-go” mode trying to do the next thing on our list and accomplish the next task. When we make one goal or hit one target, we don’t even appreciate that milestone–we just keep chugging ahead to the next one. I think the reason people are often disappointed in their goal-status is because we keep comparing ourselves to what our end goal is and we find, like the quote says, that we aren’t where we need to be or want to be or think we should be. However, we also need to realize that we aren’t where we used to be. That we have grown and changed and become a new person because of our personal journey in life. Now, I’m not saying don’t ever look forward to your goals and compare your current life to your goals. The whole point of having a goal is to have a point to reach that you currently aren’t at now, so you have to keep checking your positioning in relation to your goals. I’m just saying, don’t get so caught up in the fact that you haven’t met your goal or that you feel far away from it, when if you looked at where you used to be you would realize you are making a difference by doing what you are doing.

A good way to sum this up is this: progress over perfection. We are never going to be perfect and you may never perfectly reach every inch of your goal. That doesn’t mean give up. No, you should still work hard every day to reach your goal because who knows, you just might! But instead of worrying about perfection, focus on our progress. Because eventually that progress will lead you to where you want to be. When you do stumble or fall or fail, don’t let that define your ability to reach your goals. It’s all about perseverance that will get you there: to where you want to be. Look back at your journey just long enough to realize how much progress you’ve made and how far you’ve come; and use that to motivate you to continue working to get to where you want to be. And then…don’t ever stop.

 

Motivational Monday #5

Today’s #MOTIVATIONALMONDAY is going to be a little different, but in a good way! My past quotes have been focusing on pushing yourself to go farther and reach your goals…because I mean that’s what inspiration is supposed to do, right? This Monday, I wanted to share something I found that I really like, that all women can learn from and use–no matter your situation your life, your goals, etc. It’s called “The Kickass Woman’s Manifesto For Sparklicious Living”. Now, am I crazy about the title? No, not too much. BUT, the message is fitting and perfect; one that every girl, teen, woman should hear, understand, and apply in her own life.

I love this because it truly makes you reflect on your own life and realize  just how strong, worthy, beautiful you really are. Oftentimes people, especially women, can get caught up in their mistakes, failures and other plans-gone-wrong that they don’t stop to realize just how far they’ve come; and just how far they can go. This set of phrases, this mantra is meant to instill confidence in yourself as you read it and truly believe it. It may take time for you to feel it, to feel the confidence stirring creating the feeling that you are unstoppable, that you are simply amazing…because you are! But, it’s okay because we have time. It is important to take this time to read this and realize it’s true about you. All the crazy obstacles, failures, tragedies, etc. that you have been through has made you strong and worthy, despite any imperfections you see or others may point out, you are perfectly you!

That is why I love the last line of this: “I AM ME. I thought I was lost and alone, but now I realize that I was always with me.” You are the only one capable of making your dreams a reality, your goals the truth. Now, don’t get me wrong, support from family, friends and loved ones is great and a huge helping factor. But, at the end of the day, no matter who doesn’t believe in you or who leaves you or who doubts you, YOU are with you. YOU are powerful enough to push through, YOU are strong enough to overcome obstacles, and YOU are a kickass woman.

Have confidence in who you are and what you are doing because that is being Beyoutifully Healthy!

2 Healthier Chinese Recipes

As I’ve mentioned before…I absolutely love Chinese food! Growing up, our favorite restaurants was a little place called Lynn’s in Alpharetta, Georgia, and it was our tradition to go out for Chinese after church on Christmas Eve. So, it’s no surprise that I have a deep affection for this cuisine, I was born right into it!

While Chinese food can be one of the healthier choices, there are also many dishes that use tons of amounts of frying, oils, butters, fats, sugars, sodium and other unwanted ingredients or methods for cooking. This, plus the fact that I don’t have some of the equipment of Chinese restaurants, started me on a path to find healthy and delicious recipes I could easily make at home to satisfy my cravings! One of these recipes I found in the coupon magazine from Kroger, but the other one is one I came up with tweaking things around. The great thing about my recipe is it is very versatile and able to be modified to fit different tastes and preferences.

Making a deliciously healthy, homemade Chinese dinner doesn’t have to be difficult or boring with these two recipes!

Spinach Egg Drop Soup

Egg drop soup is one of my favorite dishes, one that I order every time I go out for Chinese. It’s a simple recipe that packs in so much flavor and this homemade version is no different!

Prep time: 5 minutes     Cook time: 20 minutes     Total time: 25 minutes

Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups baby spinach, julienned
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrot
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced scallion
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. grated, fresh ginger
  • 2 egg whites, lightly beaten

Instructions

  1. In a saucepan or small stockpot, combine chicken stock, water, spinach, carrot, scallion, mushrooms, soy sauce, and ginger.
  2. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer and cook for 10 minutes.
  3. Add egg whites slowly, stirring to create ribbons in the broth.

Shrimp Stir-Fry

Stir-fry is a classic Chinese dish!! There are so many different add-ins and varieties, which is one thing that makes this dish so great. I use shrimp here, but I’ve also used chicken–another tasty option! You could probably also use steak, tofu, or just all veggies…options are endless!

Prep time: 15 minutes     Cook time: 10 minutes     Total Time: 25 minutes

Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. rice noodles (I used Annie Chun’s)
  • 3 tbsp. vegetable or olive oil
  • 16 oz. shrimp (fresh tastes best, but frozen works too)
  • 1/2 red and green bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 cup broccoli, chopped
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • Ginger
  • 1 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. ketchup
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch
  • Sesame oil
  • Sesame seeds (optional)

Instructions

  1. Cook rice noodles according to package.
  2. In a large skillet, heat 2 tbsp. oil over high heat. Add shrimp (or your choice of protein) and stir-fry for about 3-4 minutes. Remove from skillet and set aside.
  3. Add bell peppers, broccoli, mushrooms and inger to the skillet. Stir-fry for 3 minutes.
  4. In a mixing bowl, combine chicken stock, soy sauce, ketchup, and cornstarch.
  5. Add shrimp, noodles and broth mixture to the skillet and stir-fry for about 3 minutes.
  6. Right before serving drizzle in sesame oil and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Feel free to try different add-ins or variations and let me know!! Hope you enjoy!!