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.

conference
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.

    drivin
    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!

    snackin
    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

beach1

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.

Mornings.

Mornings.

Mornings are my favorite. They provide such a clear¬†opportunity for a fresh start. Everything’s quiet (even in the dorms). Less cars are streaming down the road. There’s a uniquely valuable opportunity¬†to pause here before the day gets going.

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Rough weather today!

Before we’ve¬†even spoken, our first thoughts have an incredible power to drive our actions for the day. My pastor encourages¬†us to direct our first thoughts to the Lord – just thinking “Good Morning, God” sets the tone for everything that follows.¬†Inviting Him in before anything else reminds me who I am, and how lucky I am to be redeemed by Christ and able to speak to the one holding¬†the universe. It’s much harder to feel discouraged or aimless when you remind yourself¬†that¬†your God already knows how your day will turn out, and he’s going to help you through it.

Despite positive first thoughts, I don’t usually spring out of bed¬†smiling¬†and start singing and cleaning. I¬†take a while to really wake up, and that’s one of the reasons that I typically¬†plan to wake up earlier than I would “have to” to get where I need to be.¬†Does the sun rise in 0.2 seconds, shining at its full brightness? Nope, but we are even more in awe of its beauty because it rises slowly. Don’t feel negatively toward yourself if it¬†takes you a little time¬†to get up to speed¬†in the morning, because¬†the sun feels the same way.

sunset pcb
Sunset, but you get the idea. PCB this weekend was gorgeous!

My¬†alarm went off at 6 this morning. As¬†I turned it off, I thought how much I actually don’t mind the noise I wake up to. I’ve really been liking¬†this tone called “droplets” lately. The¬†bedtime feature on the iPhone has some really nice (effective yet peaceful) alarm sounds.¬†Some people might require¬†a more obnoxious tone, but I’m a pretty light sleeper, so this is perfect for me.¬†Starting off the day feeling like I need to disable a bomb is just not my style. Oh¬†also – I highly recommend this method for making sure you get up to your alarm – Pressing snooze instead of off the first time, even if you don’t plan on actually “snoozing” again. Once I’m¬†sure I’m¬†up and really awake, then I’ll turn it off. It’s a good safety net¬†–¬†it’s¬†never failed¬†me since I’ve been doing it all throughout college.

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For about the first 10 minutes of my day,¬†I usually feel like my head is¬†so heavy and my legs are super stiff. I keep a full water bottle by my bed at all times, and sometimes I’ll sit there and drink the whole thing before I even get out of bed. It¬†really helps not only my physical state, but also my mood and energy levels. I like to open the blinds (since I’m right next to the window) and see what’s going on out there, and then most days I’ll sit on my bed (the brightest spot in the room) while I read a little of my Bible and open up my prayer journal. When I skip¬†this, my day is just never as productive, or positive.¬†Time in prayer and the word refocuses us on why we are on earth to begin with – not for us, but for His Glory.

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On days like today when I’m not running in the morning, I’ll go turn on some praise music and make¬†coffee and breakfast. Sometimes I’ll have coffee, do a little school work or answer emails, and then make breakfast after an hour or so. Sometimes I have breakfast while I read my bible, and then coffee later. Sometimes I’ll have breakfast and coffee¬†together at my desk. It really just depends on the day and my mood/hunger. I used to always eat first thing, but after¬†spending so many mornings going on¬†hard runs and not being able to eat before, I’m not always hungry first thing. I just wait for that hunger to set in before I eat, so that I can accurately gauge how much I need. I also¬†try to make my first choices yummy and healthy to set the tone for my day.

I used to¬†eat really small breakfasts that were mostly carbohydrate – something like a¬†piece of wheat toast with fruit spread¬†and a packet of¬†instant oatmeal. When I became a college athlete, my day became much more active. Much more.¬†The college lifestyle is so much more active and taxing, compared to the amount of walking I did at home. Throw in much tougher workouts, and I obviously had to upgrade my diet. Especially in the past year, I’ve really been working on eating a more wholesome breakfast – something I love, like oatmeal or toast, but amped up with protein and healthy fats and fresh produce. This semester I’ve been making a lot of overnight oats – here’s today’s!

These were just “whatever I thought would be yummy, I threw in” oats, and this might have been my best batch yet. I used¬†1/2 cup¬†old fashioned oats, a heaping teaspoon of chia seeds, a tablespoon of sunflower seed butter, a drizzle of my new purchase – blackstrap molasses (helps add a little more iron to your diet!), 2 strawberries, a shake of toasted oat and flax cereal (for crunch), and a sprinkle of toasted coconut. Then, I poured about 1/2 cup cashew¬†milk over the top. Overnight, the oats soften without being cooked, and the flavors¬†all swirl together and become¬†wonderful!¬†I left it layered like this instead of shaking it up, and I think that’s my favorite way to do it.

The best thing about these is you don’t have to even think, and you can grab a healthy breakfast out of the fridge. Now that it’s warmer, I don’t always want a hot bowl of oatmeal, so overnight oats are perfect. There’s also so many ways you can make them, and it’s fun to try different things. I’ve just stuck another variation¬†in the fridge for tomorrow morning – I’ll probably be grabbing it on my way out the door¬†or eating it early, before the¬†first morning¬†session¬†of our¬†big class¬†research project ūüôā

strawberry yogurt oats

If I have time in the morning, I love a quick yoga session before class. Check out “Yoga with Adriene” on YouTube! I also love my running and working out mornings. No matter what your morning holds, I encourage you to take a few moments for yourself, to set your intentions for the day. Your approach makes all the difference!

Stay bright,

Rae

3 Keys to Race Day Eats

3 Keys to Race Day Eats

This is for my runners of all ages. No matter what race you’re running – Rumpshaker 5K or Olympic Trials 1 mile, there are¬†3 keys for race day eats. Besides showing up hydrated, which almost goes without saying.

1) Eat familiar foods. Know what works for you.

2) Eat the right amounts (not too much, not too little).

3) Go easy on protein, fat, and fiber, especially in the hours near the race.

Our¬†goal¬†on competition day¬†is for our¬†food choices¬†to fuel us through the race, without causing GI (tummy) distress. It’s pretty straightforward, and all it takes is a little planning and practice to figure out what works for you.

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Repping Troy, with my lucky black bow and pearl earrings (of course.)

Race-day rituals come in all forms – the same warm-up, lucky socks, bows, earrings, etc. Many people like to have coffee on race morning, especially if they do it on the daily anyway. Studies have shown that caffeine does¬†improve athletic performance, but beware – know your tolerance! I¬†have anywhere from a half to one cup every morning, but I’ll skip it if my race is¬†early. This past weekend I raced in the afternoon, so I started my day with a bottle of water and my morning cup of coffee (as always, with a dash of almond milk).

My two favorite race-day breakfasts are oatmeal and CLIF¬†bars. I was out of oatmeal, and wanted to eat something as I was leaving the dorm¬†anyway, so I grabbed a bar.¬†I know they sit well with my stomach, never give me any issues, and will hold me over for about 3 hours. It’s key for me to choose the right flavor, too – some of them, like chocolate mint and chocolate brownie, are¬†too sweet for me, and my stomach doesn’t tolerate the really peanut-y ones as well, so my favorite flavors are the Nuts and Seeds (which I haven’t found in a while), Sierra Trail Mix, Blueberry Muffin, and Chocolate Chip. But lately…

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This is just the best. THE best. It’s lower in sugar than the regular bars, and it’s coconut-almond flavored with almond butter in the center. Seriously so good. You need a race day breakfast that makes you excited to get going, and this works great for me. They were also slightly discounted the last time I was at the store! This bar has 27g carb, 11g fat, 7g protein, and 3g fiber. Consider your own body size and needs,¬†but less is more sometimes.

Whatever bfast you choose, these guidelines should help you assure it fuels you well.

  • You’ve eaten it before running hard several times, and it’s gone well.
  • You’ve eaten it recently.
  • It contains carbs, fat, and protein – but mostly carbs. Complex carbs are great, but be careful with too much fiber.¬†Don’t worry about your normal health goals on race day – you¬†can up your fiber and eat¬†omelets with veggies¬†again tomorrow! Protein will be one of our keys for replenishing post-race, so we don’t need to worry too much about it now.
  • Portion size – you¬†want to be comfortably full. Satisfied. Especially if your run is in the morning.¬†If you eat slowly, you should be able to identify what amount this means for you. I’d practice race-day breakfast on a regular morning run day, just to be safe.

If you’re running a morning race, I highly recommend waking up 3 hours before the time you’d start warming up, and getting a small meal like a bowl of oats, a couple pieces of toast with almond butter or fruit spread, or a CLIF bar, in early. Drink at least a couple of bottles of water before you get out there, too – most of us¬†wake up slightly dehydrated each morning after hours of not drinking, so you’ll want to restore your normal function. Even slight dehydration can hinder performance, and keep you from feeling your best!

I’m always afraid to drink too much on the bus, but I’d gotten another bottle¬†in by the time we sat down at the track. And I usually try to bring some minty gum for the ride,¬†because it keeps me feeling alert and fresh.

I snacked on some pretzel chips until lunch came. Salty foods can help ease a nervous stomach! Simple, starchy snacks¬†like pretzels, crackers, or (low-sugar) cereal are great to have on hand for race day, because you never know when you might need something. These won’t affect you negatively unless you eat a ton of them, and are good at keeping hunger (and nerves!) at bay.
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Samford University, you are so beautiful!

For lunch, our sweet coaches ordered us sandwiches from Newk’s ūüôā

I took off the cheese, tomato, and lettuce, and ate half of the sandwich. They were pretty big, and seriously it was the best bread ever! It definitely depends on your size and food tolerance, but regardless, a small meal about 3 hours before starting warmup is a good bet. I also made sure to drink two more bottles of water before we started warm-up at 3:30.

warmup

About 15 minutes before the race, when I was at my bag, I had a sip Powerade. In a study my classmates and I did this semester, even just rinsing the mouth with a carbohydrate-containing drink prior to a maximal bout of exercise improved performance. It really works! You can drink it or spit it out, but either way your mind is tricked into thinking there are carbs on the way, so it will allow you to work just a little bit harder.

pre-race prayer

race day troy

And before you know it, you’re done again! Our lovely trainers brought us water cups as soon as we could breathe. I always let myself chill and rest after the race for at least 20 minutes, and talk to coach, see the family. I’ll watch friends finish their races, hang out, have a little gatorade, etc. It’s important to get a light cool-down in, and then I’ll start thinking about fuel again, but usually not before. Many nutrition experts recommend refueling within 30 minutes to an hour. I’ll usually have some sports drink within 20-30 minutes, and then close to an hour afterward I’ll¬†eat a little something. Usually something that makes me happy ūüôā

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Like this cookie. Thanks Coach Michelle ūüôā

Go slow after the race, but you’ve definitely earned some protein, fat, and carbs. Post-exercise is the best time to refuel muscle glycogen (carb) stores, aka, the best time to enjoy simple carbs like cookies and not have the sugar converted to fat. Take my word for it and stagger your refueling – a cookie here, a sandwich in an hour, another snack later –¬†if I don’t, I often find my stomach cramping up on the bus ride home!

You’ll definitely want some protein on race night, to keep your muscles fed and happy. They just worked really hard, and you might not have had a ton of protein already, so now’s the time. I didn’t even take a picture, but we got Full Moon BBQ, and I had a chicken sandwich with BBQ sauce ūüôā So. good. Not all people avoid veggies post-race, but I¬†feel¬†best if I do (if I raced really hard). Their fibrous nature can just be too much if your stomach is a little on edge. I have, however, been known to tackle a smoothie. Or, more recently…

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Cashew milk ice cream. Don’t worry, I had help with this pint. Yum!

Of course, you’ll want to keep re-hydrating like crazy all night, and the next day too (especially if it was hot!) I like to kick start the next day with a really healthy and yummy breakfast, and have a lot of fruit and veggies throughout the day. This sets me on a good track for recovery – our bodies need those¬†nutrients! Especially if¬†we’re¬†doing a long run the next day, which we did.

Fuel your body well, and you’ll make the most of your performance! To sum up performance¬†nutrition for the average person, I’d say this – Go hard on the daily when you’re¬†training.¬†Refuel well with prime produce, lean meats, and healthy fats. Choose good, fresh, fiber and nutrient-filled foods. Then on race day, keep things simple, and enjoy yourself a little afterward (with protein, of course). Your muscles will thank you!

Run fast,

Rae

{Remember, I’m not a dietitian yet! All of this is based on what I’ve learned so far in school, and my personal experience. If you want to develop a real race-day plan, you’ll need a real RDN – preferably one with special sports experience and certifications. Don’t take any of this as medical advice – just food for thought!}