Grocery Shop for Our ❤️’s 🍓

Grocery Shop for Our ❤️’s 🍓

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Hey everyone 🙂

Spending so much time with Auburn’s Sports Nutrition staff has filled my head with dozens of blog post ideas. The tough part is finding the time to put them into words!

My short-term internship project for this summer was an infographic on the health benefits of summer fruits, which I really enjoyed researching. It’s incredible how POWERFUL the simple plants that God has allowed to grow out of the ground are. There are so many compounds in fruits that you could really call “magical” – Anthocyanins in tart cherries, for example, have been shown to be almost as effective as ibuprofen at reducing inflammation. Zeaxanthin and beta-carotene, antioxidants found in cantaloupe, play a protective role in eye health. All of these compounds are at higher concentrations when fruits are at their brightest colors, which for these summer fruits, is right now! And FIBER in all fruits and veggies is so good for your heart. It lowers cholesterol, blood pressure, heart disease risk – need I say more?

Putting this into practical application –

I went grocery shopping this week, and I managed to pick up a lot of really great stuff. I’m not gonna lie to you, though, I wasn’t really thinking about heart health benefits when I was in the store. I was mainly focusing on not hitting anyone with my cart, finding the aisles I was looking for, and getting good prices. And trying to restrain myself from buying too much fresh produce, because I know I can’t use as much as I think when it’s just me. And the worst way to waste money is having to throw things away because they got moldy!

In a perfect world, we’d roam the aisles thinking about our heart health. Our brain health. Our eye health. Taking our time, selecting each item that would make us more functional human beings. What do you think about when you shop? I’m definitely prone to distraction, ESPECIALLY when walking down the cereal aisle, even though I know what I like. For me, it’s gotta be old-fashioned oats, or a hearty, grainy, lightly sweetened cereal. That’s what’s always gonna make me feel the best and fill me up for the longest. This time, I bought some wheat Chex, which I really like. But there’s always some fancy new box that wants my attention. Chocolate-covered sugar-coma granola labeled “all-natural”. New cheerios claiming to be “protein-packed” (spoiler alert – they mainly contain 4 more grams of protein than regular cheerios because the serving size is bigger, and they’ll also provide you with 16 more grams of sugar and more than double the calories per serving). The grass isn’t always greener with some new product, guys. Don’t be a victim to the chaos 😉

So, how can we grocery shop with the health of our bodies in mind? Without falling prey to distraction and needless worries while we’re shopping?

Plan ahead. And take our time selecting items as much as we can.

  1. Make a general outline of bomb-tasting healthy meals for the week – things you’re really excited to make & eat
  2. Make a list of the ingredients you’ll need
  3. Make a deal with yourself – only 1-2 additional items may be thrown in frivolously (make em count!)

If you go in armed with a plan, you’re much more likely to shop well and ultimately consume a healthier diet. And this can affect much more than just how your pants fit – though that is a huge benefit. Your ability to focus, your memory, sleep quality, exercise quality, and mood can all be improved by eating a healthy diet. And a healthy diet in turn becomes something that you can feel, and that you will want to seek out – what does my body really want right now to feel truly good?

You might think that if you let yourself think that way, you’d hear your body whisper “chocolate cake” every second. Maybe if you’re listening only to the taste buds and the cravings. But after a while those fade, and then what about your brain? Your tummy? Your heart? Does your body enjoy being loaded down with sugar and sleeping off a food coma? Not really – it likes being energized and lively so you can go do things in the world.

A “discipline is the only way” approach might work for a little bit… but it can leave you still thinking about what you “want.” And in reality, the cake might be what you need some days, for your emotional well-being! But, if you stop and listen – something else might be more satisfying right now. Are you someone who doesn’t think you like eating “healthy” foods? I’d guarantee there are some you do like. Watermelon? Yogurt? Grilled Chicken? Roasted carrots, or potatoes? I bet you can find a few. Start small, and grow from there. Taste buds really can change, and the cooking and preparation of something can make a huge difference. For example – my family recently discovered that roasted beets are super yummy. Pickled beets… not our thing. But that’s okay! You just need to find a way YOU like! A beet is a beet!

And if you like a lot of “healthy” foods, but you like all the other foods too…

Remember that your best diet is a beautiful compilation of foods that do your body good – physically, mentally, and emotionally. This will vary based on your genetic makeup (metabolism, food preferences, intolerances), the season of life you’re in, the amount of time you have to prepare food, how long you’ve been cooking or eating well, various holidays, and family culture – but good nutrition is all-encompassing! It allows all of that to fit into a healthy, happy lifestyle. Your diet is everything that you eat, all the little small decisions, which add up to a huge picture of your health. With improving your health, body, choices, and habits, the key is consistency. And eliminating the stress of doing everything “right.” Just let yourself try your best, and then simply be. So much can be gained from slowing down and allowing yourself to think about your food choices, instead of rushing and self-sabatoging your health.

At the same time that little “poor” decisions get lost in the huge puzzle of a good diet, all the little decisions add up to form the picture that is your diet. So it is in the little choices that we’ll find health and success!

So, back to the shopping. What can you do if you want to improve your food choices? How should you plan for your next grocery trip? If you want to really give your body the fuel it deserves, and love doing so – here’s a few tips for your list.

  1. Start with your protein. 🍳
    • Great dinner choices are lean meats like chicken, turkey, fish, lean cuts of beef, pork tenderloin, or any of the many varieties of beans (combine with whole grains for a complete protein). Lunch protein can easily be dinner leftovers, repurposed into a salad or sandwich, or nut butter on anything. At breakfast, I love soymilk or soy yogurt (feel free to go for nonfat dairy, soy just makes my little tummy feel the best), almond butter, or eggs, for protein.
    • This week, I bought a big box of frozen (minimal additives) turkey burgers, so that I can pull one out and grill it when I want it! The other nights, I’ve had black bean & brown rice bowls, and I’ve still got some frozen baby shrimp and frozen chicken-maple sausage in the freezer for when I want to mix it up. Freezers are magical when you don’t go through things quickly!
  2. Fill out your meals with veggies. 🥒
    • I love keeping a container of greens (arugula, baby kale, and baby spinach rock) around so I can turn anything into a salad for lunch, or have a side salad with dinner. And – they’re great sautéed into your eggs with some salt and pepper. If you haven’t tried baby kale with eggs – please do. Game-changer.
    • Roasted veggies are AMAZING. And easy. Stay tuned for my next blog post on making ANY veggie delicious 😉
    • FROZEN VEGGIES – always have them in your freezer. They’ll be there when you need them!
    • It can also be nice to find a veggie you really like to snack on (with or without hummus)! Bell peppers, cucumbers, sugar snap peas, and crinkle-cut carrots are my go-to.
  3. Make sure you’ve got grains. 🍞
    • I’d argue it’s easiest to mess up here. Because there are SO. MANY. OPTIONS. With bread and cereals, anything packaged, stick to this rule – a whole grain as your first ingredient, and the shortest ingredient list you can find. With cereals, aim for less than 10g sugar/serving (<5 even better!)
    • Brown rice over white, whole wheat pasta over regular, you get the idea.
    • Why? Fiber is healthy for your heart, and when it’s stripped away (white bread, etc.), things get kind of… weird. Messing with nature’s package too much. It’s missing something it was meant to have.
    • HOWEVER – the goal is to eat whole grains for at least half of your grains. That leaves you a lot of room for wiggle. The weirdness will only get you if you MOSTLY eat nutrient-stripped grains. It’s the big picture, folks!
  4. EAT ALL THE FRUIT. 🍒
    • This one’s easy. Buy it – fresh or frozen. Add it to cereal. Smoothies. Yogurt. A bowl. Supplement your diet with all the fruits – as much as your budget will allow, that is! You aren’t going to mess up here!
  5. The things you love.  💕
    • For me – the cart ain’t complete without almond milk, air-popped popcorn for snacking (it’s whole grain and actually a really good choice!), and probably one special drink of some sort (a kombucha, vitamin water, iced coffee, etc.) 😊
    • Every couple of months, some dark chocolate, halotop ice cream, or graham crackers might make it in my cart. #faves. Make room for your faves when your heart tells you to! And when you buy them, savor ’em!

Did I forget anything? There you go. My guide to grocery shopping. These items are gonna nourish you all the way to your heart, because fruit & veggie vitamins promote blood health, and fiber reduces blood pressure, helping to prevent added stress on the heart. So you can rest easy knowing your diet’s keeping your blood pumping!

Here’s some meal-spiration 🙂 –

 

 

 

Eating well, with a relaxed yet intentional attitude, helps you live well. And longer. And it boosts your self-esteem just by simply doing it.

Stay bright!

Rae

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M-day 💕

I hope you all had a great Mother’s Day 🙂 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 🙂 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 ☕️
  5. Hammocking
  6. Crossfit
  7. Watching the sun rise
  8. Reading my bible
  9. Relaxing with friends/ family
  10. Bubble baths 🛀🏼

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

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 🙈

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 😏 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. 😊


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. 🐌

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’ 🚙

Road Trip Snackin’ 🚙

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 🙂

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 🙂
  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 – it 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 🙂

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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) 🙂

Drive happy!

Rae

10 Mind Hacks for Your Brightest Life 💡

10 Mind Hacks for Your Brightest Life 💡

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 – but 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

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On Goals, and How They Change Everything.

Preface: ^^ The above salad was constructed by me from a couple of different stations at Troy’s dining hall. Proof you can eat yummy and healthy anywhere with a little effort!

“Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Prov. 29:18

Having a vision for what you want to do in the world, and seeing how the now affects reaching your goals, makes all the difference in the world. I remember when I first started the classes in my major field of study, exercise science and nutrition – it absolutely changed the way I studied because I wanted to learn the information. I had a passion for it, finally – I loved it. Even the hard stuff, I pushed through it because of an ultimate goal. I know that my God-given purpose involves influencing the lives of others through health and nutrition, so I have a deep drive to learn as much as I can in that field.

In sport, also, having a vision for what you want to accomplish, goals for the season, and a plan for each week will change the way you wake up. It’ll even affect the attitude you show up with each day. This week, I’m taking on my first race in a while after an injury and a long period of rebuilding. Being a senior, I have to approach this Friday aware that this could very well be my last race in college. As hard as it is mentally to not be afraid of failing, I have to go out there wanting to achieve my goal (being ultimately proud of the effort I put in).  My plan for achieving this is keeping my eyes on the girl in front of me, and not giving up, because I want to shine and make my team proud. I’m going to remember the workout I did today, and how I pushed myself, and just try to do that again the best I can for 1 mile!

Student Athlete
So ready.

Vision is a concept that I’ve learned in my time at Church of the Highlands. God has a plan for each of our lives, and He’s put us in specific circumstances with specific character traits and skills and talents, in order to accomplish good for His kingdom. (For more on this, check out churchofthehighlands.com!) In your daily life, having a vision changes the order in which you do things. If you have an ultimate end point you want to reach, you can change your priorities to get you there! You can say no to what won’t help you, and yes to what will. Without things you want to accomplish – small and large goals – it’s hard to get moving on anything. You’ll do what’s comfortable.

Being uncomfortable is definitely something that I, and most of us, struggle with. However, some of the greatest blessings of my life have come through suffering! What about the half-marathon I ran? What about the intense training I underwent to become a cheerleader? That changed me, but it was HARD (difficulty is personal – think about things that were hard for you, emotionally, mentally, or physically). But I don’t regret the hard work. Your biggest regrets are gonna come from the things you didn’t do. The laziness or fear or insecurity that held you back wins. And we’re so unkind and unfair to ourselves when we let those things win. Whether it’s lifting weights, pushing through a tough run or workout, or a race, the pain is usually worth it.

Let me relate this to diet, because this is one of the biggest areas in my life where I see the benefits of vision, goals, and a plan. When I’ve got a race coming up, it’s so much more crucial to make healthy diet choices, because I know how I want to feel, look, and perform on the line. I know my choices matter, so I’m watching them. I also know that I’ll probably have some almond milk ice cream (yummiest stuff on earth) the weekend after the race! When you reach goals, though, you have to regroup and set new ones, or else you’ll stay there with the ice cream… metaphorically speaking. That new goal for me becomes the next week of training, feeling my best, and looking my best when summer comes! Everybody loves swimsuit season 😉 But seriously, it can serve as a really good motivator to make healthy choices, because you know that those choices are going to show. What if we made choices we were proud of all the time? Just, for ourselves? I think that’d feel really good.

To reach goals, all we need is forward momentum. We don’t need perfection. One bathroom stop on a road trip doesn’t make you give up on reaching your destination, does it? Of course not. A wrong turn shouldn’t, either. No matter what your goals – bettering your health, feeling good day to day, high self-efficacy (feeling good about yourself your ability to make the choices you want), athletic performance, or a figure competition – you reach them one choice at a time. Treat yourself like you’d treat a close friend who messed up – with sympathy, love, and support.

My final tip is to find others who inspire you! I follow lots of fit ladies on youtube, and that really inspires me to make healthy choices and set higher goals for myself. My favorite Registered Dietitian/ WNBF Bikini Pro, Kara Corey, has recently started a challenge called DRIVE in which she’s helping her whole fan base to work as a community and encourage each other towards their fitness and health goals. Her recent videos served as a catalyst for this blog post. And though our goals are different, watching her talk about her goals and her drive really encouraged me to reach for mine.

Encourage someone today! Life is sweeter when you do.

Rae

Let go.

Let go.

Life can easily become a battle for control. 

So many things, people, issues, addictions, and fears would love to rule your life. Don’t let ’em.

This is where you’d expect me to tell you to take control for yourself. I’m not, and here’s why – I’ve realized that we are unable to control life. We’d love to, but we simply aren’t capable. The harder I fight for control, the more life I’ll squeeze out of myself and those around me.

Solution? Surrender control to the only one who holds the universe. Trust that you cannot make your life anything without his help. Instead of taking control, take charge and choose your God. What you let rule is ultimately what you worship, so even letting yourself rule is a recipe for disaster. Take charge, not control.

This applies to all areas of life. When I run, I take charge of my legs, and I choose to push hard – but I cannot control my genetic potential or current ability, nor can I control fluke injuries. In school, I can choose how I prepare – but I cannot control the questions on the test. I cannot assure that nothing will be difficult for me, and I cannot build a shield big enough to protect me from all harm or discomfort.

I can choose how I treat others, but I cannot control how much others like me. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to come to terms with that? To stop worrying about what every move looks like through others’ eyes? To embrace the fact that it’s impossible to be everyone’s favorite? Some of you are there… please teach me your ways 😉

Bringing it back to the focus of this blog, you don’t really want control over your diet. Control feels good – but it quickly becomes consuming. What we eat seems like an easy thing to control, and on a deep level this appeals to us when we feel out of control in other areas. I had an unfortunate day recently, and I felt like I just couldn’t win – so I overate. Darn if I couldn’t control the happiness of my circumstances, I could control the happiness of my tummy. Guess what? It didn’t work. I ended up full and… still sad. It’s like how girls in movies break out the ice cream when a guy does them wrong – it might provide temporary pleasure, and that’s fine, but it never fixes the problem. On the flipside, control issues are a common contributor to eating disorders and disordered eating. This is why disorder commonly springs up around a life change – parents splitting up, a teenager entering high school or moving off to college, or coming out of a bad break-up. The individual thinks, “I know- my body and my food intake is something I can control. If it’s under my control, it’ll be perfect, and if my body/diet is perfect, life will be perfect.” From the outside we can see how skewed this thinking is, but from the inside it’s a blurry haze. Don’t let yourself get trapped in there.
What does taking charge, not control/ taking hold of choice in my diet mean for me? 

  • Thinking calmly and rationally about what different foods will do for my body, what I need at the particular moment, and whether/what food will do me good. 
  • Choosing to look at food as a blessing and as nourishment, not as something to manipulate and restrict, or idolize and abuse. Not giving it power over me, and not expecting myself to have power over it.
  • Giving it all to God, asking Him to help me make my choices, because I know he cares about even the smallest things in my life.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?” Matt. 6:25

“Live carefree with God; He is most careful with you.” 1 Peter 5:7

“Whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God.” 1 Cor. 10:31

“Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear, for you are more valuable than many sparrows.” Luke 12:17

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank Him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s perfect peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.” Phil 4:6-7

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever should believe in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Always keep the big picture in mind. When your life gets small and laser-focused and you don’t want to loosen your grip, remember that God’s ready and waiting to take over – and he has a much bigger hand and a stronger grip and a better plan than any of us do.

Stay bright,

Rae