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M-day ūüíē

I hope you all had a great Mother’s Day ūüôā Ours¬†was perfect. We started off the day making some¬†“real deal”¬†chocolate chip waffles with bacon, and ended with seeing our grandparents, picking up my sister from dance rehearsal, and scarfing down some amazing grilled shrimp that I was too hungry to consider taking a picture of.

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Real whipped cream + toasted coconut + berries ūüôā And some special¬†cold brew coffee with almond milk!

One day or one weekend to celebrate moms is absolutely not enough, because they are the reason all of our lives are possible. On top of that, they do so much thankless work. Thank them for everything you can think of, because there is always more that goes on behind the scenes.

That being said,¬†we ought to just be able to give moms a rest day, but I know mine always¬†ends up working,¬†even on Mother’s Day.¬†Laundry is still running,¬†and Mom is still full-throttle getting us ready for the week ahead. She’s superhuman.

However, it is possible to incorporate restfulness into even the busiest of days. Whether it’s a¬†yoga session, enjoying¬†a good¬†meal, watching a little TV, or just going to bed early, rest is important to your mental health. We weren’t created to run 24/7, and many moms (like mine) have figured this out.

You’ve probably heard it before, but if you want to be present for others, you need to take care of you. Why not take initiative and incorporate planned rest into your life? In my experience, if you try to be “on” all the time, you’re going to crash.¬†Give yourself the satisfaction of taking breaks, on your own terms.

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May is Mental Health Awareness Month, probably because they thought the M’s would be cute. May is actually a really good time to think about it, though, because for many of us the school year is coming to a close. Things get really busy, and then they just drop off. If you’re in the busy phase, it’s a great time to consider how you can improve your performance by keeping your mental health strong. If you’ve made it through, congratulations! Allow yourself to relax, and definitely consider de-stressors that you can incorporate into your life when it winds back up again. If¬†life is calm for you, considering your mental health can boost your happiness, help you to care more for others, and just overall make you whole and healthy.

Many say that mental health is just as important as physical health – and I agree. You might work your tail off for a performance, or to look good for an event… but when you get there, can you enjoy it? In our everyday quest to keep our bodies healthy, if we stress ourselves out, we will not succeed. We might make the grade, reach our body goals, or lower our cholesterol, but we are not fully healthy or successful if we are not mentally healthy.¬†Mental health will determine the overall quality of your life.¬†Everything you experience is processed in your brain…¬†the way you interpret life is ultimately what matters.

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It’s not just a concept – physical proof of the negative effects of poorly managed stress on the body¬†includes elevated cortisol – a stress hormone that is naturally elevated when we stress the body. Cortisol isn’t all bad – levels go up when we work out hard. It’s essential for performance, but if elevated all day long, it can negatively influence fat storage (more around the middle), among other negative effects. A workout only temporarily spikes cortisol, but not getting enough sleep or being under constant stress can¬†result in¬†chronically high cortisol levels. Additionally, stress itself has been linked to an increase in heart disease!¬†You can do all the healthy things, but if you don’t live life with moderation and allow yourself rest, you could seriously impact your physical health.

Exercise, though it temporarily stresses the body, is good for your mental health because it releases other “feel-good” hormones, like serotonin. Encouraging, not forcing, the body to move will give us the best results. I don’t mean stop if running or lifting is hard- challenge yourself, but don’t work beyond sense. Don’t push exercise to the max if you are feeling drained. Work with your body, not against it.

Being mindful with exercise ties right in with one of my favorite things in the world – mindful eating. Learning to listen to my body’s true needs when it comes to food has been one of the best changes I could ever have made in my life. God gave us hunger and fullness cues, and emotions, for a reason- and it’s our job to listen and nourish ourselves well.

A healthy and varied diet full of good fats, lean protein, whole grains, and colorful fruits and veggies can really make you feel and look your best. And the body is happy. However, food was also meant for celebration! Though I do feel rejuvenated after eating most days, there’s something fulfilling about enjoying a special meal with family. Though my healthiest breakfasts might contain more antioxidants than chocolate chip waffles, those waffles we had yesterday had their own sort of benefit. Happiness, letting go, not caring that they’re full fat and full sugar. Letting yourself enjoy a total splurge is good for the mental state.

The thing is, we don’t have to deserve¬†good food. We don’t deserve anything in life. It’s all a gift. Our bodies are a gift, too.

I have also found that good old fashioned dessert loses its luster if you start feeling “entitled” to it. What’s there to celebrate is you eat this way every day? I say, enjoy healthy food most of the time, and fearlessly indulge when your body needs it. You don’t have to have cake on every occasion, but you should¬†certainly have cake in your life. Or ice cream. Or whatever you love. Structure and groundedness in your diet are good. Making treats healthier is good. But chocolate chip waffle mix from William’s Sonoma is good, too.

And don’t call it a cheat meal. Call it living your life.

To close, here are some of my favorite ways to keep my mind healthy and happy –

  1. Going to bed early
  2. Yoga
  3. Taking walks
  4. Drinking hot tea ‚ėēÔłŹ
  5. Hammocking
  6. Crossfit
  7. Watching the sun rise
  8. Reading my bible
  9. Relaxing with friends/ family
  10. Bubble baths ūüõÄūüŹľ

These are just examples, and I encourage you to find your own ways to incorporate rest and healthy movement into your lives on a daily basis. Your mind, body, and family will all thank you!

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Be well,

Rae

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Completion.

Completion.

There’s how you think you’re going to feel when you finish your 4 years… and then there’s how you actually feel. I always thought I’d be so relieved after running at Troy was done, because as much as I love my team and the sport… it’s not easy.

I’m proud of everything that the Lord and my coaches and teachers helped me to accomplish, I’m proud of my big letter, and I’m proud of the braver person I have become! I know that I’m ready to move on to grad school, and to help others in areas that I am passionate about.

I thought I was ready to move on. Checking out of the dorm for the last time was SO liberating. But then, y’all, I cried all the way out of Troy city limits. I’m going to miss everything and everyone so much.

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My beautiful women’s team.
Don’t ever be mad at yourself for crying “good” tears. Sometimes, they come to remind us how invested we actually were in an experience. I love Troy, I loved my 4 years, and I wouldn’t trade any second for the world. My friends will always be my friends, and we’ll never be far apart in heart. Especially with the house party app ūüėČ Troy fam, if you haven’t yet… get the app. It’s gonna make our lives better!

What do you do when you’ve achieved your goals? Naturally, celebrate and then set new ones. It’s important to set new goals for every stage in your life. Even if they’re big, or vague, we all just need to have direction. Whether you’ve reached a fitness goal, or a life goal, or a career goal, it’s important to continue your forward momentum. Of course, take rest for yourself. Then, think, what do I want the next phase of my life to look like? What can I do to make it better?

It could be staying active or encouraging others more. As for me, I definitely want to continue to pursue a positive mindset, encourage others, develop my cooking skills (goodbye, dining hall!), and put even more into my studies. I also want to explore some other areas of fitness besides running (though I’ll never be able to resist a good run). Right now, I’m also enjoying having time with my family, who I missed like crazy. That’s always important!

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Anna & I at her Honors Day. Always match your siblings, it’s fun.
Feeling like the world’s all in front of you is exactly how you should feel – because no matter what your situation, it is. There are always ways to make every single day better. Our lives will never be perfect – but there are always goals we can set and qualities we can aspire toward.

Never give up. Be innovative. And, be you.

This post wouldn’t be complete without me sharing today’s breakfast with y’all, because it was bomb.

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Double Berry Almond Butter Toast ^^

  • 2 pc. Sara Lee Delightful Multigrain Bread
  • 1 1/3 tbsp Publix creamy almond butter
  • 1 tsp Polaner Strawberry All-fruit spread
  • 1 handful fresh blueberries
  • Coconut oil spray

I just sprayed each piece of this awesome fluffy bread with some coconut oil spray (just enough to coat), and put it in the oven on broil with the oven light on. After a few minutes, it’s golden brown (gotta keep your eye on it!) and I pulled it out and spread almond butter on each piece. I added strawberry all-fruit to one, and some amazing fresh blueberries to the other. This was perfect with a glass full of ice and Stok cold-brew coffee.

Starting your day well helps you tackle those goals you’re setting! ūüėČ

Be blessed,

Rae

Whole Foods {State of Mind}

Whole Foods {State of Mind}

No class on Friday = big shopping trip! I really enjoyed trying on the dresses and the shoes, but I’m pretty sure I got the most excited in Whole Foods ūüôą

The produce was, AMAZING. Have you ever seen a watermelon radish before?


If you’ve ever tried one of these… let me know!!

Anyway, didn’t buy any produce (long drive home), but here’s my mini haul from Whole Foods.


I bought a whole case of these Nuts and Seefs Clif bars! My family loves them, and I thought they weren’t selling this flavor any more. They’re the best because they’re so hearty, but not overly sweet. The cashier may have thought I was a little overexcited, but I really don’t care ūüėŹ You like what you like!

I also grabbed some grass-fed whey protein that I’d been eyeing online. The price wasn’t bad, and grass-fed means cows were allowed to graze on what they like, leading to healthier tummies and healthier cows overall! I’m not in love with the flavor, but it’ll do and at least it’s good for me and the cows. PSA: Quest protein just can’t be beat for flavor.

I also grabbed some almond milk (organic!), and this little superfood oatmeal cup from Vigilant Eats that I had for breakfast this morning. Oh my. YUM!


I’d never tried mulberries (dried mulberries in here!) or maca powder, but they’re both delicious. You can eat this stuff hot or cold, and you can use milk or water. It even comes with its own little spoon! The nutrition stats are pretty nice – the sugar’s not bad compared to your typical oatmeal cup. What I loved most was the cacao nibs, and the stellar ingredient list. ūüėä


By no means does a product’s presence in a certain store make it “healthy.” Whole Foods is very particular about what they sell, and make sure that it’s good for the environment and not full of junk or preservatives. However, organic and vegan or not, chocolate cake is chocolate cake, and it’s not going to cure your diseases or make you lose ten pounds.

And neither will my nuts and seeds clif bars. As much as I love them, I try to use them more for “on-the-go” than every day.

Shopping at a store that puts emphasis on fresh and healthy choices really puts me in the mood to eat well. Good thing you can make healthy choices at any store or restaurant, because I sure couldn’t drive 45 minutes to grocery shop every week.

With “whole” foods on the brain, I’m challenging myself this upcoming month to eat more whole and natural foods. May is such a fresh month… spring is leading us into summer, and my birthday is 20 days away! It’s my favorite time of the year.

The salad I had at Panera on our trip helped spark this idea. When I ate it, I immediately felt energized and amazing! Then, the next day, I had a buttery bacon biscuit at a local restaurant. It was amazing… and then I felt like a slug. ūüźĆ

So I thought, I enjoyed both of those a lot, but I know what I want more of in my diet! Today, I hit up Publix for some fruits and veggies, oats, yogurt and my favorite Califia farms almond milk. I have nine days left in Troy, and I plan on feeling good for them.

I’m initiating a “May Mindset Makeover.” If you want to join me, I’m going to try to reach for food that’s closer to its original state (how God made it!), and focus on the perimeter of the grocery store where the produce and healthy protein sources are found. For everything in the inner aisles, I’ll focus on reading ingredient lists. Less crap that we can’t pronounce, and more whole, healthy ingredients.

If you need a little inspiration, check out my friend Jenna’s zucchini pasta recipe here. Fresh posted today!

Eat good, feel good. Let’s see just how good we can feel this May!

Best wishes,

Rae

Road Trip Snackin’ ūüöô

Road Trip Snackin’ ūüöô

Long road trip… you pull up to a gas station… you’re hungry. You’ve been on a roll lately with your nutrition, and you don’t really want to settle for the Cheetos today. What do you choose?

On Friday, I drove down to Gulf Shores to present research at the ASAHPERD Conference (7.5 hrs, just me!), and I realized there really were some decent snack options at the gas stations along the way.

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My conference group with our posters ūüôā

Here are my top healthy picks!

  1. Bottled water.¬†Of course, you can’t drink¬†too much on the road, but staying hydrated is key to keeping your mind¬†alert while you drive. You just can’t beat a cold bottle of water.
  2. Bai drinks.¬†I’ve loved this stuff lately! The mango and coconut flavors are really yummy (felt like I was still at the beach). Yes, there are some artificial sugars (erythritol), but this drink is relatively natural compared to many others, and has little impact on your day’s¬†diet at only¬†10 calories per bottle.¬†A yummy drink is a good choice when you’re bored and want¬†to snack, but aren’t really hungry yet.

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    When you see the Flora-bama and you realize you’re 5 min out ūüôā
  3. Unsweetened tea.¬†A favorite in my family. We’re unsweet tea people. Some flavor, a little caffeine, and no bad stuff. Again, if you¬†need it¬†sweet, I recommend Milo’s Splenda Tea. You won’t miss a thing except the sugar and calories, and you won’t spike your blood sugar like real sweet tea will.
  4. Skinny-pop. Popcorn is naturally whole-grain Рit only hurts us when we cook it in a ton of oil and drown it in butter. Air popped popcorns, or those popped in less oil and seasoned lightly, give you a lot to munch on for not a lot of caloric cost. And everybody loves popcorn!

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    My ammo for the return trip. (Water, mango Bai, and white cheddar Skinny pop.)
  5. Nuts, especially almonds.¬†I like the single-serve pouches – you know, the tall skinny ones. They usually have around¬†20 almonds¬†inside, which is perfect, because you won’t eat too many and get a tummy ache.¬†Cocoa roast, blueberry, and lightly salted are some of my faves. They’ll give you a boost of healthy fats, protein, vitamin E,¬†and calcium, as well as taking the edge off of your hunger.
  6. Jerky.¬†I tried “Perky Jerky” Brand turkey jerky today, and I really like it. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better source of on-the-go protein than jerky – just check your ingredients. Beef jerky is great, but turkey is even leaner (and yummier, in my book). And of course, we want minimal preservatives. Look for things you can pronounce, and watch sodium and sugar.beach3
  7. Clif nut butter bar or¬†Quest bar. Two of my favorites – I like them because the ingredient list is relatively short, and they’ve got less sugar and more protein than the average bar. Reach for this if you’re too hungry to mess around with popcorn – they’ll fill you up more like a small meal.
  8. Apple chips or¬†Freeze-dried fruit.¬†Traditional dried fruit often has added sugar – yeah, it’s fruit, but it’s not your best choice. Freeze-dried options are better because they’re closer to the natural state! Natural = better. And they’re SO GOOD.beach2
  9. Mints/ Gum.¬†Great for taking the edge off, keeping the breath fresh, and keeping you focused. Mint is really good for that!¬†They’re also a great option when you just want to buy something, but¬†you’re not particularly hungry.
  10. Starbucks Coffee+Milk.¬†Hands-down, it woke me up after hour 3 and got rid of my headache. A much better option than Starbucks’ bottled Frappaccinos – this deliciousness is¬†made with just¬†milk, sugar, and coffee. No crazy stuff. My favorite is the Vanilla ūüôā

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And when you get home and you’re too hungry to cook (or you missed Saga), grab one of these from Chik-fil-A! (Southwest salad with chili lime vinaigrette) ūüôā

Drive happy!

Rae

Dorm Survival

Dorm Survival

The struggles of campus life can be¬†very real (small space, loud neighbors, crazy roommates, cafeteria food). However… many adults would kill to be in our shoes, with no grass to mow and minimal dishes to wash. Real food is cooked¬†for us on demand. Every stage of life has it’s +’s and -‘s, but with a positive outlook and a little help from those ahead of us, we can magnify the +’s.

Here’s a little advice to make the most of your nutrition options while in college (especially in the dorms).

  1. Eat at the dining hall. You can get so much bang for your swipe. Don’t be¬†overwhelmed by the¬†number of options once you get inside – take a lap, and then decide what you want. Be moderate, eat with friends if you can, eat slowly, and grab a healthy snack (banana, apple, etc.) for later if your dining hall allows. Definitely take advantage of chicken, turkey, lean beef options at the dining hall, as well as fresh and cooked veggies.
  2. Spend your flex points or dining dollars on helpful¬†additions to your diet. I buy jerky, nuts, yogurt, freeze-dried fruit, powerade (athlete probs), and the occasional quest, luna, or cliff bar at Herb’s place. I’ve gradually shifted away from eating at Einstein’s (the bagel place) all the time and spending more at Herb’s, and I like it because I can get what I really want. I often need on-the-go food, or would prefer to chef something up in the comfort of my room. However, there are smart, filling, and healthy options at on-campus restaurants as well. Check out the menu, and just think smart. More whole grains, protein, healthy fats, fruits and veggies. Less sugar,¬†refined grains, saturated fats/fried foods.
  3. When you shop at the grocery store, shop smart, simple, perimeter. Keep what will help you around, ditch what will bring you down! Oatmeal and eggs for breakfast, and fruit and veggies for snacking will do it – (maybe some almond milk too ūüôā ) Nut butter and whole wheat bread is a great¬†to have on hand as well. Sometimes I buy hummus and dip my veggies in it when training is heavy and I need a boost of healthy fats.

     

  4. Take advantage of the walking lifestyle. Go see your professors in person. And the gym or sports, intramural or collegiate Рmake fit friends!
  5. Treat yourself every now and again! You work hard! If it’s not to halotop ice cream¬†– maybe to a¬†movie¬†night, or a chill walk, or an online purchase¬†(bonus points if you shop poshmark).

Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Make the choices that make YOU happy.

Stay bright,

Rae

 

10 Mind Hacks for Your Brightest Life ūüí°

10 Mind Hacks for Your Brightest Life ūüí°

Lately I’ve been accomplishing a lot. And by lately, I mean in the past few¬†days. I tried to think about what I tweaked, and what has¬†lead to this amazing thing I’d sum up as¬†“me feeling extra confident, good about life, and being caught up on everything.” So, here’s the mindset changes that I’ve noticed, along with some other stuff that I feel is essential to success.

10 Mind Hacks for Your Brightest Life

10. Look for the good. And if you find none, make some.

Laugh when you want to cry. Make fun out of mundane tasks. Look for joy in unexpected places. And if there just is none, find it within at¬†the thought that you are living, breathing, and doing.¬†Manage to crack a smile¬†as you finish a race, and you’ll understand the feeling I’m talking about.

9. Draw inspiration from others.

There’s something good you can learn from just about everyone. (There are also negative things you can learn from everyone, so try to pick out the positive.) Need somewhere easy to start? Try this guy, C.L. Shepherd. Former NFL player who shared his inspiring life story with our Troy Athletics family last night. His motto – well, he has many, but¬†“good, better, best,” and “swim upstream” stuck with me.

8. Reach for what you want.

Don’t ever let anybody tell you what you can or can’t achieve. There is no shame in trying. And if you’re gonna try, give it your BEST! Only then will you know what you’re truly capable of. I ran a 75-second 400 at the end of my workout today! And you know what – I felt great! I encourage¬†you to take a risk¬†today. You know, the good kind.

7. Form good habits.

Ideas – wake up earlier. Eat a balanced¬†breakfast full of carbs, protein, and healthy fat. Read a¬†devotional in the morning.¬†Take a full water bottle to class and drink it before you leave. Commit to going to to the gym at the same time¬†each day, find a running buddy, or join an exercise group. Stretch for 10 minutes a day. Drink hot tea at night. Those things you “wish you had time to do?” Try doing them once, and see how it feels. I bet you can find¬†ways to implement¬†them as a regular part of your life. Boom, habit formed. Once something’s a part of your routine, it’s much easier to make it happen. “We are what we repeatedly do.¬†Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” (quote: Will Durant; concept:¬†Aristotle).

6. Own what you do, and make it yours.

We own track and field. We’re proud of our team. No one brings the same element to practice, though – we each contribute uniquely to the team atmosphere. A lot of the girls are encouraging, but they each have their own special way. A lot of the guys are funny, but they each have their own variety¬†of humor. Remember that you are special – own what you do, be proud of it, and be proud of your unique contribution. Never doubt your worth. Even if¬†you feel small some days, you are always¬†essential in the eyes of God. He chose to put you exactly where you are in this world with a unique combination of skills and traits and characteristics,¬†for a purpose.

5. Don’t be afraid of spontaneity.

Make a beach trip! Try a new healthy food, or a new ice cream. Stay out past your bedtime (on occasion). Make new friends. Be bold. Some of the best times in life come from just stepping out of your normal routine. Like I said, routines are good Рbut they need shaking up sometimes.

4. Cultivate resilience.

So many things in life require just hanging on. Not giving up. I can’t begin to explain to you the benefits that participating in an endurance sport has brought to my life. It’s taught me that so much can be said for hanging in there – and hanging in there well. Don’t slow down –¬†really keep running. When the semester gets long, and you’ve got spring fever, study harder! Be the one who people describe as¬†a hard worker. The one who never gives up. It’s¬†one of the best traits you can have, and the best part is that anyone can cultivate¬†it. You don’t even have to run (it helps though).

3. Look outward.

If you’re having self-esteem problems, one of the quickest fixes I’ve found is to take your focus off of yourself.¬†Self-pity¬†is¬†rooted in self-focus, so let’s kill it at the root. Somebody needs your encouragement today, and the devil would love to use self-focus to hold you back. You get to choose – reach out, and you’ll help yourself as well as others. Text a friend, call a family member, or give a compliment. Build an others-focused life, and your own happiness will increase.

2. Take time for you.

Yes, love others, but don’t be ruled by serving or pleasing them. Rest is healthy and necessary for us, even though we might not get any praise for it. I encourage you to spend time alone every day – let yourself have room to think, without anyone else’s input. Do the things you love – take time for a movie you love, or a bubble bath, or even just a 10-minute yoga session. Treat yourself well – like you would treat someone you love. When you allow yourself to rest, you’ll be in a better place to love others during the day!

–> 1. Jesus. Making Him more of a priority as of late has lead to¬†a resurgence¬†of all of these other 10 in my life.

Personally have found that I fail in every area¬†without allowing the power of Christ to actively work in my life.¬†We are powerless alone. Man may plot his course, but it is the Lord that makes him able to complete it. We are hard wired to need Him – that’s the point. That’s why you can never do it on your own – so that you will not forget that He is God.

Seeking God in prayer, reading His word, and worshipping Him daily are my best tips for a bright life. With Easter right around the corner, it’s a good time to remember the goodness of our Savior, who took the fall for our sins! Though we fail, get up again, fail, get up again (in life, much like in a fitness journey) – he lived a perfect life and died as the sacrifice for our shortcomings. He rose from the grave, and if we simply trust and accept His sacrifice, we rise up too! Not only do we gain eternal life in heaven, but we are able to pray to the Father and become more like Jesus every day we are on earth. He begins using us for His cause – spreading His message – and increases our joy immensely as well.

There’s so much you can do in life – so much you can improve, so many people you can touch – but it’s all irrelevant in light of what Jesus did for us. The ultimate sacrifice deserves the ultimate love, respect, and loyalty. Join me in meditating on that for just 5 minutes every night¬†this week! Let’s fall asleep thinking not about the worries of tomorrow, but about the goodness of a Savior who died to give us eternal life in heaven with Him.

Much love,

Rae

Your Best Body

Your Best Body

Hey gorgeous (or handsome), you already have a great¬†body ūüôā¬†We only get one, and it’s honestly so¬†amazing¬†what it’s able to do. It’s the vessel we live through, and without it we’d be nonexistent and useless. You can make a vast difference in this world through your body no matter WHAT it looks like.

HOWEVER – we are all allowed to have goals and aspirations! It feels so good to feel good and healthy, and proud of the fitness and appearance and strength of our bodies. At times I have let others tell me that I shouldn’t aspire to a healthier, fitter body, or that I shouldn’t set high goals because I¬†“might not¬†be able to” reach them. Yes, while we must be happy with who we are in this moment, we are SO allowed to improve our bodies. Lift heavier. Run harder.¬†Experiment with changes in our diets. Tone up. Lean out.¬†We are allowed to pursue more defined abs, and more muscular shoulders to do pull-ups with.¬†We should never let these things define us¬†– but wouldn’t it be fun to see ourselves make the progress we’ve dreamed of?

Aside from aesthetic and functional improvements, we can¬†pursue health solely because our body deserves it. It’s respect. If you’re a Christian, your body is the place where God’s spirit dwells! It deserves to be taken care of in the best way. Personally, I’ve struggled with both obsessing over perfection of health and giving up – just eating everything I wanted in order to feel good. Sometimes, I’ve even struggled with¬†both extremes in the same day. Can you relate? Have you ever measured out your cereal¬†just perfectly in the morning, flicking one piece back into the box, only to¬†dive face-first¬†into the nut jar later¬†without a care in the world?¬†Our bodies deserve so much more stability than that. More love and care.

Discipline is good, and healthy, and¬†necessary for us in all aspects of life. If you think about people you respect, they probably put a good deal of discipline towards the things that they love and succeed at. Discipline in school gets you the grade – show up to class, study what the teacher says until you understand it. Of course, you aren’t going to study every second, but you’re going to study the right things, and you’re going to¬†put effort towards it. The same principles apply to diet.¬†Eat for your goals, move closer to your goals… eat however you want, move further away from your goals (or maybe stand still if you’re lucky). Of course, every little¬†bite doesn’t make or break the bank, but an accumulation of little bites will. The¬†planning and effort have to be there. As a¬†general rule, reaching toward our goals is healthy, is admirable,¬†and will help us achieve them.

So what prevents people from wanting to¬†change their diets/lifestyles to reach their health and body goals? Whether it’s losing 50 lbs., pursuing better bodily health, or just¬†leaning out the legs a bit¬†for summer?

  1. Not knowing how.
  2. Fear of failure.
  3. Fear of discomfort.

Let me just settle these. #1 – If you really don’t know how, I’m going to teach you – keep in mind, there’s always more things to learn, but¬†you don’t have to know everything to make some progress. Also, it’s fun to keep learning. #2 – Complacency is always, always worse than failure! Even if you fail, it’s worse to have never tried. And if you fall, you can get back up and try a different approach until you make it! #3 – Discomfort will come for you if you don’t seek it out. If you’re not willing to fight it during your race, it will come for you afterwards when you see your time on the clock at the finish line. If you’re never willing to feel it in your eating habits – never willing to wait till you’re truly hungry to eat, never willing to say no to anything yummy – discomfort is coming for you later when you have to face not meeting your goals.

So let’s get started.

I’m about¬†to share the most basic (nutrition-based)¬†method for determining what will get¬†you to your goals. Let’s say you’d like to tone up before summer. You want to lean out a little bit, and keep your muscle mass, so you’ll look good on the beach. Let’s call you Jane, and let’s say you weigh 145 lbs, are lightly active on a regular day (maybe some cleaning, walking, etc.) and plug your¬†numbers into the MyFitnessPal app (myfitnesspal.com works just as well). Technology makes this all so simple to figure out. We like to complicate things,¬†but I’m taking away your excuses here.

Here, I put in “your”¬†stats. Now it’s time to choose a goal – let’s say there are 5 weeks till summer, and Jane thinks she’d like¬†to lose about 5 lbs. by summer.

I’ve set your goal to lose 1 lb. a week, which will totally get you there! And, because we want to make sure you preserve muscle mass, let’s up your protein a little. Here’s what you need to eat in a day – as stated above, 1,490 calories – 168g carbohydrates, 93g protein, and 50g fat. How are you going to do that?

Here’s your blank canvas – a new day. Tap on add food, and we’ll start with breakfast. You can plan it out in here, or log as you cook, or after you eat. Let’s say you cracked an egg… here’s an egg. 72 calories,¬†6.2g protein. You add that to your breakfast. Then you made an omelet out of that egg, with 1/4 cup of egg whites and some spinach. You popped a couple of pieces of toast in the oven with just a dab of butter on them, and then ate all this with a side of gorgeous strawberries. Here’s breakfast –

myfit bfast demo

And it’s setting you right on track to your goals. Check this out.

We’ve had a good chunk of the protein we needed, some sustaining carbs, and¬†a little fat. We just have to do this 2 more times, and balance any snacks and drinks we might have in as well. You can monitor progress here, see your totals all day, and give it your best shot at reaching your goals! Many people¬†call this method “tracking your macros” – trying to consume goal quantities of the macronutrients (carbs, fat, and protein) – and sweat by it as a great method of accountability. It gets easier as you learn about tracking, and what’s in the foods you commonly eat. You’ll quickly discover that one chicken breast has generally about 20g of protein. Boom. See, it’s already getting easier!

This system has also been nicknamed “If It Fits Your Macros” or “IIFYM,” because, well, you can make progress eating even some “not-so-healthy” foods if they fit your macros! For example – I could have a donut for breakfast, and make the rest of my day fit around that. However, after a few days on IIFYM, you’ll realize that you’d rather have that big ole’ breakfast of egg whites and oatmeal, because it’ll fill you up more for a whole lot less “cost.” You can get way more volume when consuming foods like lean meats, fruits, veggies, etc. It’s way cheaper, if you think of the macros like money. But, if you want the donut, you can splurge, and it’s totally cool! Then a big cheap salad with chicken for lunch balances you back out.

All goals aside, MyFitnessPal and other diet trackers can be a great tool for evaluating your diet and where you’re “at.” You can see your daily consumption of many vitamins and minerals, and you can assess this over a few days and see what you need to work on (like iron, potassium, or even protein – those are what I’ve noticed in my stent of tracking lately). You become more aware of what you’re eating even after tracking for just one day, and can think about the¬†positives of what¬†you’re doing and what you might work on.

It can also be a great tool to help with weight maintenance.¬†You can check in every so often, log your weight, and compare it on a graph with your weight over time, even if you only log it once a month. Then, you can even plug in what you ate yesterday, compare it to MyFitnessPal’s estimated calorie needs for your day, and see what is or isn’t working for you. You can see weight trends over time, and think about what you were doing at times when you were most happy with your weight, even if you never log a single bite. There’s also a new progress picture feature, and you can use it to make before-and-after’s! Because, remember – it’s not all about weight.

MyFitnessPal can also be used to work on gaining a little muscle. You can set a goal to gain a certain amount per week, increase your protein a bit, and lift weights like crazy. I¬†may¬†try this at some point, after I shift my focus away from running and more towards overall fitness. I’ll let you know how it goes if I do!

Once we’ve got our plan – lose fat, gain muscle, or just get healthier – and we’ve taken the leap to go for our goals,¬†what stops us from being¬†able to to reach our goals?

  1. Our own conflicting desires. We want it, but we want cake more.
  2. Others, who knowingly or unknowingly tempt us into falling off the wagon.
  3. Not enough preparation for when “life happens.”
  4. Lack of progress Рneeding to tweak the plan or get help, and giving up instead.
  5. Stress – is tracking too much for you?

Sometimes, you have to fight against your own emotional desires that conflict with your true needs and goals. Remember, you want to treat your body well, not abuse it, and that means for the long haul. Other times, others will unknowingly try to drag you down when you’re actually feeling strong and good.¬†It’s not their body, so ignore them! I’d love to do a whole post on shaking off the “well-intentioned” comments of others. I think I will. Also, you need to be prepared for when “life happens” – when you get hung up at work and are tempted to grab “something quick” on the way home – oh wait, I prepped my meals on Sunday. I’ll just go home and have my wonderful grilled fish and¬†baked sweet potato fries that’s waiting on me. Preparation is good. Or if you’re in¬†class¬†forever, but you remember you threw an apple in your bag, so you eat that as soon as you get out and then can think rationally about your decision. And finally, don’t let lack of progress derail you! It takes¬†time, and hey, you might need to reassess your activity level and adjust your macros. You might need to throw in another workout, or see a dietitian for more professional help. Whatever the case,¬†don’t give up on your goals just because you’re not getting there overnight! It’s going to be worth it!

If you don’t think you can manage to¬†track all the time, take heart – you can use it as a means for awareness, and remember how it felt to hit your calorie goals one day. Model your other days after that! When you’re a seasoned pro, you’ll even be able to estimate the macros in a meal if you wanted to!

My final advice – treat yourself. Make health and fitness fun. Because, especially when you look good, it so is!

new treats - order
$30 hoard from Poshmark!
treat yo self
I love online shopping!!
swell bottle
Feelin s’well. And super hydrated.

Be well,

Rae

Disclaimer – I don’t track my macros all the time – only if I have specific goals or want to check in with how I’m doing on my consumption of certain nutrients. Other times I eat intuitively, which involves listening to my body, its hunger and fullness cues, etc. I’m also not a dietetic professional yet, so don’t take any of these tips as medical advice. Use them at your own discretion, and consult a RD or RDN if you need help determining the right intake levels for you.