Things I Have Learned From Running

Ya’ll know me – I’m slightly obsessed with running.

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But I haven’t always been. Long long ago (not in a galaxy far, far away), I had no desire to run. I was content to sit on my couch at night and not do a thing. All I wanted to do on a Saturday morning was snuggle deep under the covers and block out the super bright sun. And I certainly didn’t mind partaking in a few beverages on a Friday or Saturday night because hey – I had no early morning plans.

So what changed? What caused me to stop drinking on the weekends; to toss the covers aside and hop out of bed; to not feel complete until my feet hit the pavement?

A lot, actually. I went from being a scared, anxious, obsessive person who couldn’t let things go that happened at work to being a strong individual with goals. Not that I didn’t have goals before, but for once these goals were attainable.

Why? Because I could control them.

No more of the wishing and hoping that others would follow through. No more praying on my hands and knees to give me something that I felt I needed in order to make my life complete. No wonder whining and pining, waiting for the day that everything would magically fall into place.

That’s not real life. So I guess you could say that in the last year, life slapped me across the booty and said, “hey – wake up! There’s more for you to do here than this rubbish of crying and wishing.”

And for once, I listened.

Now running certainly isn’t for everybody, so I’m not suggesting when life slaps you across the booty that you start running. But for me, it was my means of escape from the chains that bound me – OCD thoughts, anxiety, anger, stress, and depression. And while at first it may have seemed like I was escaping my problems, I was actually running head first into them. And sometimes – that’s what you have to do to learn.

Over the past year, running has become an integral part of my life. When I first started, running was my stress outlet after a long day of work. Instead of obsessing over that conversation that just didn’t go well, I would run and clear my head. Over time, running was my solitude and time to think when my marriage was beginning to unravel. I would spend those morning hours contemplating how to handle situations differently the next time they arose so that there was less anger and anxiety. When I moved away, running became my regiment to keep me sane: wake-up, workout, run, go to work, come home, cook dinner, read/write, sleep, repeat. When I was going through the depths of despair, running is the only thing that kept me going each day; without it I probably wouldn’t have gotten out of bed each the morning. As spring began to bloom and I began to feel fresh and new, running began to fuel new dreams that I’d never considered (or thought possible).

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All this – in just fourteen months.

So as you can see, running hasn’t been all about getting healthy or staying fit or losing weight. While it started out as that (I wanted to lose 15 lbs.), running went from something I had to do to something I wanted to do.

But you know what’s even crazier than that?! How many life lessons running has taught me. I have been contemplating this topic for several weeks now and once I began jotting down ideas, they just didn’t seem to stop! But for today, we’ll keep it sweet, simple, short (somewhat), and to the point.

~ 7 Things Running Has Taught Me ~

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No matter what happens, it’s just one event

It’s just one run. It’s just one race. It doesn’t define who you are. There’s this amazing thing called time which propels us forward, even when we don’t want to, allowing us to start over fresh every 24 hours. So what if you bombed that 5K and didn’t PR. You have the opportunity to redo the next day or the next race. One mistake or bad moment doesn’t define you forever, so stop overanalyzing and treating like so.

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You can’t NOT take care of yourself and expect to perform 100%

You can’t expect to get 2 hours of sleep and then run a PR whether it’s a 5K or a half marathon. Just like you can’t expect to fully function at your best after only having 2 hours of sleep. You’re going to get tired, you’re going to nod off, and you’re going to be distracted. You’re going to dwell more on negative thoughts of “I can’t” or “I won’t be able to” versus focusing on the positive and pushing yourself to do your best. Put yourself first and your body will back you up!

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Pay attention to what you’re putting into your body 

Food is fuel and energy, and whatever you put into it is what you will get out of it. If I feed myself crap, I’m going to feel like crap.  If I eat really crappy foods that I know my stomach can’t fully digest, I am not going to feel great while running because 9 times out of 10, that crap is still in my body and I’m lugging it around, up and down as I jog. No matter how you look at it, the big bowl of ice cream or cheesy macaroni and cheese doesn’t feel that great lobbing itself up and down within your stomach cavity. The same goes for everyday life. Feeding yourself candy, greasy foods, and sodas – while in the moment may taste amazing – aren’t helping your body. And your body knows it and often slows down because it either doesn’t know how to process it or literally can’t digest what you’re giving it. And when your digestion begins to shut down, everything begins to suffer. Your attention; your mood; your energy – it all requires energy and without it, these systems shut down.

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Change is inevitable

Whether it’s good or bad – it’s all in the eyes of the beholder! Ever since we were placed upon this planet, we’ve been experiencing change. Who would we be as a human race and a planet if we weren’t changing, constantly evolving and adapting to meet the new requirements around us? As any history teacher can tell you, those who refuse to change often are left behind and forgotten. If you push back against change and are stubborn, how can you expect to grow? How can you expect to be remembered? How can you expect to survive?

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You’re not going to win or be the best at everything

Hell, you may never win anything, but is that the point of life? Are you just doing things and going through the motions in order to win some prizes that you deemed was is the one thing that you need in order to be happy? Is there really only one thing in life that could make you happy? The only person you need to beat is yourself, and if you show up every day and give it 100%, I say you’ve succeeded.

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Nobody is the same as you

Let me repeat that – nobody is the same as you, so there’s no point in comparing yourself. Nobody was born as you; nobody’s had the same experiences as you; nobody is on the same path as you… Just because somebody is running the race next to you doesn’t mean that you should compare yourself to them. Everybody has their own journey that they’re on and their own set of experiences… That’s what makes us each unique and so precious. The same applies to real life. Everyone is on their own personal journey, and it’s OK to now be doing the same thing as someone else. The world needs your you-ness in order to be a brighter place. What would the world be like if we all dressed the same, talked the same, and had the same thoughts? We probably wouldn’t have very many of the first world conveniences that we’re so used to like electricity, refrigerators, or even automobiles!

 

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Thoughts are reality 

I don’t care how you look at it… The thoughts and energy that you bring to the road that you’re running every day influences how that run is going to go. If you bring positive thoughts and energy, then you’re going to have a more positive run. If you view the run as something that you have to get through and you just go through the motions in order to get it over with, you’re more likely to find fault and frustration with your run. The same goes for life. The more negative your outlook, the more often you will find judgment, faults, and frustration with everything that shows up. But if you can take a moment to step back and try to view every situation with some sort of positivity, you will be amazed at how your world will brighten just a smidgen each day.

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Three Ways to Start Living Alkaline

WHAT IS ALKALINE?

Alkaline is a lifestyle choice for some and a requirement for others. The basis of this lifestyle sounds fairly simple – eat less acidic foods so that you can keep your body’s pH level in balance. Our bodies are designed to function at an optimal pH level around 7.0 – neutral. It will continue to function properly at a slightly higher level (alkaline), but if you dip lower than neutral (acidic range), you can suffer some major consequences. Eating too many acidic foods causes your body to move into inflammation state, which isn’t healthy! Inflammation is believed to be the driving force and cause of many of the chronic diseases we deal with today: cancer, obesity, and rheumatoid arthritis (to name a few).

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WHY CHOOSE Alkaline?

The last time I checked, nobody wants to have cancer or to be obese – plain and simple. As you know, cancer is very dangerous because once the malignant cells enter your body, they replicate at an alarming rate! But it doesn’t have to be this way!

Our bodies naturally produce acid through daily metabolic processes, and our body (being the awesomely smart machine that it is) balances it out the internal state without any trouble. For example, we produce carbon dioxide (acidic), but the levels of bicarbonate in our bodies act as “buffers” to neutralize the acidity.

Seems simple, right? Well it is, until we start adding stress, chemicals, and foods to our systems that push us into a highly acidic state. When we reach that point, our bodies can no longer get rid of all acidosis and it begins to break down.

Read more here!

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WHAT CAN I EAT AND NOT EAT?

I’ll be honest – depending on the website you follow, you could find at least five different approved food lists and all of them differ. For example, some list mentioned that I could eat fruits, while another said I needed to stay away from fruits. One list mentioned that I could have almonds; others said I needed to avoid them.

I’ve researched this lifestyle twice in the past 6 months and come to the realization that it’s very difficult to switch from any lifestyle to Alkaline without some transition time. In fact I’ll be super honest with you – the first time I researched this lifestyle, I didn’t make it past the first 3 days. Granted there was a lot more going on in my life at the time (especially where hormones are concerned), but I found it incredibly difficult to go from my current, well-rounded diet to 100% alkaline.

After doing some research, I learned that you are supposed to ease into this lifestyle gradually. And this is what I would recommend for anyone who’s looking into trying this lifestyle. Even if you eat alkaline 80% of the time and still enjoy the non-alkaline foods 20% of the time, it’s better than not even trying to improve your health!

Everyone’s body is different and can tolerate different foods, so I’m going to share a variety of the Alkaline food lists that I found during my research. Based on what you already know about your body, choose foods from the alkaline-list and use them to build your daily and weekly meal plans!

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WHAT DID YOU LIKE THE MOST?

I loved that I could eat more greens! I often feel that I don’t eat enough vegetables, just because the other food groups tend to overshadow them. I’ve definitely improved my intake over the past six months, but I could always stand to improve. Eating more alkaline foods meant that most other food groups were eliminated, leaving the vegetables to take center stage! One of my favorite dishes that I tried for the week was the vegetable crudite with the avocado dip – yum! How can you say now to more avocado??

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WHAT DID YOU DISLIKE and/or miss the most?

I missed not having meat. Don’t get me wrong – tofu and tempeh were definitely some great sources of protein for me, but I’ve also discovered that my body can only handle so much soy. As a woman who has been through the heartache of not being able to get pregnant, I learned that soy acts as a phytoestrogen and can mimic this hormone. Too high of estrogen levels can send a woman’s body into “estrogen dominance” and cause health complications (such as difficulty conceiving).

When I learned about this, I of course began to remove soy from my diet. That was last spring and I can honestly say that until a few months ago, I wasn’t consuming soy. When I did my vegetarian research a few months ago, I turned to tofu and tempeh as my protein source. What I wasn’t expecting was the unpleasant side effects that came with these foods. I’m lactose intolerant and have to take medication or simply avoid products in order to feel normal. Sure enough, when I ate tempeh and soy, I actually had the same undesirable side effects as I do with dairy. Hence why I don’t look to them as a primary protein source.

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WHAT WAS THE MOST DIFFICULT?

Having to limit my fruits!!! I am fully aware that fruits do contain sugar and shouldn’t be consumed in high quantities. However, I also believe that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”. On some alkaline food lists, I found that fruit and nuts were considered ok, but on others I found that those should both be limited. Based on the 80/20 rule, I focused on consuming 80% alkaline foods and honestly used my 20% allowance on apples and almonds!

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Three THINGS I LEARNED

  1. Do your research before choosing to try this lifestyle and don’t cut acidic foods cold turkey (unless advised by a physician). After two rounds of research, I found that easing into the lifestyle with an 80/20 approach allows your body to transition naturally vs. leaving it in a shell-shocked state.
  2. Ladies – don’t choose to try out this lifestyle 100% (meaning no acidic foods whatsoever – cut cold turkey) when it’s that time of the month. Your body is typically craving extra nutrients as your body is under a high amount of stress during that time and suddenly removing foods could through your body off balance. Trust me on this – I learned the hard way!
  3. Vegetables really do fill you up, so much so that you don’t really miss the carbs. I was very pleased that I didn’t miss red meat and carbs like pasta and bread all that much during my second round of research!

 

Interested in trying this lifestyle out? Find the sample week’s menu below to help get your acclimated! Here’s the 3 easy steps to get started!!

  1. Get your free Alkaline Menu for 5-day test drive!!
  2. Review the Alkaline tips above and choose 10 foods that you want try for snacks. Trust me – you’ll want to keep these handy when you’re feeling the urge to go acidic!
  3. Choose 1 food for each day that falls under the “acidic” area. Remember that the key is balance and starting with an 80/20 mindset will actually help you succeed versus going 100% all in one day!

Three Protein Bars That Pack a Punch!

Whether you never have time to eat breakfast, need a quick pick-me-up in the afternoon, or need some field to get you through your workout… we’ve got you covered! Check out these 3 simple, yet tasty protein bars that you’re sure to fall in love with!

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Pumpkin-Date Protein Bars

These bars are jam packed with seeds and dried fruit, making them perfect for those hiking trips you’ve always wanted to take! Bonus points for sticking together and not leaving a mess!

  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup packed, pitted Medjool dates
  • 3/4 cup rolled oat flour (ground rolled oats)
  • 1 tsp ground flax seed
  • ½ cup chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of  sea salt

Directions:

  1. Place dates in a bowl with water and allow to soak at least 30 minutes prior to starting.
  2. Preheat oven to 325F and line a 9-inch square pan with two pieces of parchment paper, one going each way.
  3. Place rolled oats in a high-speed blender or food processor. Blend/pulse on highest speed until a fine flour forms. Pour into a large bowl.
  4. Remove dates from water and dice. Pour water and dates into blender, blending until smooth. Pour into bowl with oat flour.
  5. Add remaining ingredients to oat flour and stir well until combined.
  6. Scoop the mixture into the pan and spread it out with a spatula as evenly as possible.
  7. Bake for 23-25 minutes, or until firm to the touch. Allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack for another 5-10 minutes. Slice and enjoy!

 

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Not-So-Naughty Protein Bars

If you are a sucker for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and know you should give them up, these are a great way to wean yourself off! Combining the best of both worlds, they boast a creamy nut base with just the right amount of chocolate to make you feel like you’re being naughty!

Bars

  • 1 cup nuts or seeds, soaked in water for at least 1 hour (I used almonds, sunflower seeds, and unsalted cashews)
  • 1/4 cup flax meal
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup seed or nut butter (I used sunflower butter)
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Chocolate “Ganache”

  • 4 T coconut oil
  • 4 T almond butter
  • 2 T coconut sugar
  • 2 T cocoa powder or carob chips
  • 1 tsp honey
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  1. Place nuts or seeds, flax meal, coconut, butter, and salt in a food processor. Process until the nuts or seeds are ground into a coarse meal
  2. Add melted coconut oil and vanilla to processor. Pulse until well combined. Batter should resemble a paste.
  3. Press the mixture into an parchment-lined bread loaf pan and place in refrigerator to chill.
  4. While bars are chilling, prepare ganache. In a small saucepan, heat coconut oil and almond butter over a simmer. Stir in the cocoa/carob, honey, and vanilla extract.
  5. Continuously stir until it slightly thickens, then remove from heat. Pour over the chilled protein bars and return refrigerator to chill.
  6. Cut into squares and serve!

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No Bake Workout Bars

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup protein powder (I use Vanilla Shakeology)
  • 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 2 T chia seeds
  • 2 T ground flax seeds
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup lite coconut milk
  • 2 T honey (raw honey if possible)

In a blender, pulse 1 1/2 cups of the oats until a flour like consistency. In a large bowl, toss to combine oat flour, remaining 1/2 cup oats, protein powder, chocolate chips, chia or flax seeds, and raisins.

Stir together in a medium bowl the coconut milk, peanut butter, and honey. Pour peanut butter mixture over oat mixture and stir until thoroughly incorporated.

Spread mixture into a 9 x 9-Inch square pan or an 11 x 7-inch pan. Press mixture down and cover with a lid or foil and refrigerate overnight, or until they harden some. Slice into 12 bars and keep stored in the refrigerator.

#Muffin Monday: Sweet Beets Bites

If you’ve been following me for these past 9 months, you’ve noticed that I’ve talked about my growing love/passion/obsession with running. I’ve been training for a marathon for 6 weeks now and we’re almost to the halfway mark! To say I’m excited and nervous would be an understatement.

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Being in school now and studying various aspects of nutrition, paired with my love for running, has peaked my interest in running nutrition. I know there are a number of products on the market that can be used during long run training and races – goos, gels, bars, waffles, and chews. Up until a month ago, I’d actually never trained with any of these items. My longest run was a half marathon and I had always trained with eating chopped dates. I also can’t run and drink water because I wind up choking on the water (yes, I refuse to stop just to drink).

I came across a running podcast a few weekends ago and it couldn’t have been more perfect timing because they were about to host a weekend-long nutrition summit. I tuned in for nearly every podcast, vigorously taking notes in hopes of learning the “best” foods for runners. But what I learned was true to the underlying theme of my coursework – everyone is different and will have different things that work best for them.

What I did learn, in addition to my lectures for school, is how important it is to properly fuel our bodies pre and post-workout. When it comes to long runs, our bodies are working so much harder than the standard 30-minute gym sesh or a light, 3-mile run. Every time we run, we’re basically breaking down our muscle fibers and re-building them to be stronger. That’s why it’s so important to re-fuel properly after a run so our bodies have the nutrients available to properly re-build our muscles. And it’s just as important to fuel pre-run to ensure that our body doesn’t begin harvesting energy from these same muscles.

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Two foods I learned about in my research are sweet potatoes and beets. Sweet potatoes are just slam-packed with nutrients like beta-carotene, vitamins C, manganese, and dietary fiber. In addition to being nutritional powerhouses, they’re much lower on the glycemic index than regular white potatoes. What does low-glycemic mean? Basically, the lower the lower glycemic index an item is, the slower our body digests it, making us feel full, longer!

Beets are another powerhouse, packing potassium, copper, and magnesium into their purple bodies. The cool thing about beets is that there is research out showing that beetroot juice can help to improve exercise performance. Studies have shown by taking in small shots of beetroot juice during training and before a race, the body begins to experience a stronger output without expending any extra energy. In basic English, this means you’re getting more energy out without actually expending that extra energy. Pretty cool, huh?

These two foods are the inspiration for this week’s muffin bites. We tested them in our running group over the weekend and found these to be pretty darn tasty!! I hope you enjoy them too!

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Sweet Beets Bites

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 T ground flaxseed
  • 1 cup cooked and mashed sweet potato (about 1 small)
  • 3/4 cup mashed banana
  • 2 T coconut sugar
  • 1 T maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup mashed beets
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a mini muffin tin snd set aside
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients (except sugar) and set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together sweet potato, banana, sugar, syrup, beets, milk and vanilla. Pour over dry ingredients and stir to combine. Mix until just moistened.
  4. Scoop into muffin tins and bake for 15-20 minutes. Check at the 15 minute mark, just to be sure and not overcook!

 

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Nutritional Facts:

  • Sweet potatoes are excellent source of vitamin A and polyphenols. Polyphenols are phytochemicals that have antioxidant properties. Every human being needs antioxidants in order to help maintain wellness and it’s been shown that having these helps stop the progression of chronic diseases such as diabetes and cancer!  
  • Although magnesium is the 4th most abundant mineral in the human body, more than 70% of the population is magnesium deficit! Beets are high in magnesium, amongst other fantastic benefits!
  • Did you know that in baking, you can substitute mashed banana for oil or sugar? 

7 Mouthwatering Smoothie Bowls

It’s pretty stressful to get up and out the door in the morning. Sometimes, there just isn’t time to have a family breakfast at the kitchen table, let alone a well-balanced breakfast!

As our lives get busier and busier, more and more of us are reaching for liquid meals to help stave off the mid-morning hunger pains and sugar cravings. With summer just around the corner and our bathing suits teasing us from deep within our dresser drawers, we’ll do, eat, or drink just about anything to slip into them.

Enter the smoothie. For those of you who have the time for a 10 minute breakfast before the children storm the kitchen, these are perfect for slipping those fruits and veggies in. Heck, you could double or triple the recipe and give them to your children for breakfast! It’s like drinking a fruity milkshake!

And for those of us who don’t have more than 5 minutes to spare, these are the perfect on-the-go meal!

I’ve gathered 5 of my favorite flavors to get your started off! Only a few more weeks until summer… You (and the kids) can make it!!!


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Chocolate Chia Smoothie Bowl 

Bowl

  • ½ cup brewed coffee, chilled
  • ½ cup milk of choice
  • 1 T almond butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 T unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 T maple syrup
  • ¼ cup chia seeds

Toppings

  • Banana slices
  • Granola
  • Unsweetened coconut flakes
  • Cacao chips, fresh berries, chopped dates
  1. Blend together all bowl ingredients (except chia seeds) in a blender.
  2. Pour into a resealable container and add chia seeds. Seal, shake, and chill in refrigerator overnight.
  3. Pour smoothie into a bowl and top with banana, granola, coconut flakes or whatever toppings you desire!

 

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Tropical Smoothie Bowl 

Bowl

  • ½ cup strawberries, fresh or frozen
  • ½ cup raspberries, fresh or frozen
  • ½ cup mango chunks, fresh or frozen
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • ½ cup yogurt (I used coconut milk)
Toppings
  • Almond slices
  • Unsweetened coconut flakes
  • Additional strawberries, raspberries, and/or mango slices
  • Blueberries
  • Chia seeds
  1. Combine all of the bowl ingredients in a blender and pulse until smooth.
  2. Pour into bowl and top with your preferred toppings!

 

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Apple & Coconut Oats Smoothie Bowl 

Bowl

  • ½ cup old-fashioned oats (not quick cooking)
  • ¼ cup sweetened almond milk (any milk will work here really)
  • ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch of ground turmeric (optional)
  • 1 small apple, cored and chopped
  • 2 dates, pitted & chopped (optional)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 4 ice cubes

Toppings

  • Diced apples
  • Chopped dates
  • Unsweetened coconut flakes
  • Hemp seeds
  1. Place all ingredients in a blender and pulse together until smooth.
  2. Pour into a bowl and top with additional toppings as desired.

 

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Peach Pie Smoothie Bowl

Bowl

  • 1 1/2 cups frozen peaches
  • 1/2 cup milk of choice
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 scoop unflavored or vanilla protein powder (optional)
  • 1 T almond butter
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of nutmeg

Toppings

  • Fresh peach slices
  • Strawberry slices
  • Granola
  • Sliced almonds
  • Hemp seeds

 

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Sunshine Smoothie Bowl

Bowl

  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp ginger
  • 1 frozen banana, sliced
  • ½ cup pineapple or mango, fresh or frozen
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder (optional)

Toppings

  • Unsweetened coconut flakes
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Granola
  • Fresh fruit
  • Hemp seeds
  • Chia seeds
  1. Combine bowl ingredients in a blender and pulse until smooth. If using protein powder, be sure to add last!
  2. Scoop into a bowl and adorn with toppings of choice!

Inspired by IIN’s Sunshine Smoothie Bowl

 

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Avocado & Kale Smoothie Bowl 

Bowl

  • 1 cup kale leaves, de-stemmed
  • ½ cup almond or coconut milk
  • 1 small banana, sliced and frozen
  • ½ avocado

Toppings

  • Strawberry slices
  • Additional banana slices
  • Chia seeds
  • Unsweetened coconut flakes
  1. In a blender, pulse together all bowl ingredients.
  2. Pour in serving bowl, garnish with desired toppings, and enjoy!

 

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Strawberry Banana Smoothie Bowl 

Bowl

  • ½ cup sliced strawberries
  • 1 frozen banana, sliced
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp chia seeds

Toppings

  • Sliced strawberries
  • Sliced bananas
  • Almond slices
  • Unsweetened coconut flakes
  1. Place all bowl ingredients into blender and pulse until smooth.
  2. Pour in serving bowl, garnish with toppings, and enjoy!

 

A Look Back on 30

As a kid, I counted down the days – no the weeks – until my birthday. It was probably the best part of the year – a day all about me.
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Now, before you go thinking I was a total brat, I’ll mention this – I wanted it to be my birthday, but I didn’t want any outside attention for it. You see, when we were growing up, we rarely went out to eat. Only on special occasions and birthdays was one of those occasions. On the fateful one day of the year, we got to choose whatever we wanted (within reason) and my parents would take us there for our birthday meal. And you know when you go out to eat on your birthday at a restaurant, they bring you a complimentary food items – usually dessert. And this was highly coveted because my parents never bought appetizers or desserts.

But along with the dreamy dessert came the staff and other diners singing to you. This is where I drew the line. I never wanted to get attention, so I always turned down the dessert. Every year, I would beg my parents not to announce it was my birthday and every year, they reminded me that I wouldn’t get the cake. And I always agreed and said I know, I don’t care about the cake. Did I care about the cake? Eh a little bit, but my mom always made us a cake so it wasn’t like I was cake-less.

Every year, I’ve looked forward to my birthday. I think the most fun part for me is being able to dictate the entire day’s activities. My brother is younger than me and when I was about 5 or 6, I was very distraught that his birthday came before mine. “But I’m the oldest – how come his birthday comes first?!” I would whine to my parents, who tried to explain to me that’s not how these things work. There’s tales that for a few years, I refused to sing happy birthday to him because I was so irritated that I didn’t get to celebrate first (ok, so that was the extent of my brattiness).

I eventually grew out of that and realized that I was still getting the fair deal by being the older sibling. Throughout college and afterwards, I would always find some fun way to celebrate my birthday with friends. When I turned 18, I told my boyfriend that all I wanted was to go to Disney World, so we did. When I turned 21, I honestly can’t remember what we did, but I’m sure it was some sort of house party. Even when I turned 30 last year, I made a big deal about it. Instead of being sad and depressed about the big 3-0, I had a Gatsby-themed party and claimed this would be my last birthday as a kidless adult.

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Welp, I was wrong. Here I am, almost 365 days later, still without a baby; still not pregnant. I could be really depressed right about now, crying about all the things I had on my “Year of 30” Bucket List that I didn’t accomplish. In fact, I did bring that list out a few weeks ago and actually giggled over a few of the things I had chosen. I won’t share them all with you, but here are just some highlights

 

30 before 30 (2016 year goals)

  • Boudoir photos ✔️
  • Take a photography course
  • Take a weekend trip in town ✔️
  • Run in a race ✔️
  • Update my wardrobe to include staples for career & mother✔️
  • See a concert ✔️
  • Visit a new city  
  • Get pregnant!!
  • Complete 30-day squat circuit challenge ✔️
  • Build a new habit: compliments
  • Start going to church ✔️
  • Work on removing salt and sugar from diet ✔️
  • Find an ideal weight & be happy with it! ✔️
  • Finish honeymoon scrapbook

As you can see, my bucket list didn’t quite get accomplished, at least not the “big” things that I’d been looking forward to. I was adamant that by my 31st birthday, I would either be pregnant or have a small baby. I was convinced that I would be staying at home and possibly preparing to move to a new state. I was convinced that I would be happy with my weight (finally) and not care if I had stretch marks or even some post-pregnancy weight.

Now can you see where I’m coming from when I say I should be depressed as the big 3-1 looms around the corner, less than 72 hours away?

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But as I glanced over my bucket list and saw that prominent goal – the one that I was obsessed with this time last year, I found myself feeling nothing. I didn’t feel sadness or anger or regret; nor did I feel joy or relief. I was pretty neutral, which was surprising for me. Not even three months ago, I was completely torn up over the idea of how uncertain my future was and that I couldn’t even promise to myself that I would have the chance of being pregnant before the end of 2017. Now, the idea of not being pregnant doesn’t really bother me.
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So on the same night that I uncovered my “30 things before I turn 31” list, I decided to come up with another list: a list of everything that I have accomplished. And as I began making this mental list, I realized just how much there really was to celebrate. Looking back on this year, I think the one word I could use to describe it would be “metamorphosis”. That was the theme of my 30th year on this planet and God didn’t take the task of teaching me this lightly. In every way possible, he demonstrated that it’s possible to be tested and to go through the absolute worse, only to come out on the other end a much stronger person…

  • I moved back to my home state – a place I’ve been yearning to move back to for years
  • I ran my very first (and probably only) Gate River Run – a goal I’ve had for at least the past 10 years of living in Jacksonville
  • I made the decision to go back to school – and have self-funded the journey!
  • I have planned trips to 4 new cities in 2017 – and those are only the ones I have booked air fare for!
  • I committed to doing the unthinkable – running a marathon
  • I finally started this blog – something I’ve had on my mind for the past 2-3 years now and never had the confidence to do
  • I finally found a way to deal with my anxiety and stress – and it no longer involves nights that I don’t remember
  • I’ve begun to write again – something I gave up in high school, but was such a passion of mine
  • I ran 3 half marathons in the span of 6 months and have fallen in love with running – again
  • I’ve begun to relinquish control over what happens in my life – of the things that I can’t control no matter how much I fret, cry, or pray
  • I can look in the mirror and smile because smiling back at me is someone I love

 

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So now, looking at the list of what I have accomplished in the past twelve months and I ask myself: is that “goal” what I truly wanted? For months, I spent every waking moment trying to find ways to improve my fertility; to day dream about what it would be like to be pregnant; to pray that God would let me have a baby. I was so convinced that it would make me happy – that with a babu, my life would be complete.

But can I tell you a secret?

I think becoming pregnant would have been the worse thing ever for me – at that time.

A year ago, I was in no place or form to become a mother.

  • I couldn’t control my weight and I wasn’t distraught over this.
  • I was always stressed out from work and couldn’t “leave it at the office”.
  • I wasn’t paying attention to anything in my personal life except my obsession to get pregnant.
  • I was completely caught up in the comparison game and belittling myself for not having the life like everyone else.
  • I was grumpy most of the time and the only thing that seemed to solve it was drinking – or eating.
  • I would often go through spells of eating junk, knowing full well that the next day (or even later that night) I was going to hate myself.
  • I wouldn’t ask for help on anything – I had become solely dependent on myself and would just do things alone because it was easier.
  • Although I’d learned to be pretty self-sufficient, I was still very emotionally co-dependent. When he was up, I was up. And when he was down, I spiraled out of control into an anxious downward spiral.
  • I hated looking in the mirror because I didn’t know who the person was in the mirror. I felt like a fraud – a thief living in a borrowed body.
  • I took responsibility for everything – and boy do I mean everything. I apologized for things that I didn’t even do or were out of my control.
  • I was that person who tried to  do it all for others, but never took the time to do stuff for myself.

All of those things – and none of those things – would have helped me as a mother. I would have been stressed and anxious my entire pregnancy, at the mercy of all the elements of my personal and professional environment. I would have spent the entire nine months apologizing for gaining weight; apologizing for having morning sickness and fatigue; apologizing for wanting to eat certain foods; apologizing for wanting to go running or to do nothing at all. I would have been so wrapped up in my own awful story that all my baby would thrive on was fear, anxiety, and stress. It would have been born with this engrained in their DNA and then the awful cycle would continue to live on – in them.

And I would have been eternally angry that I passed such an awful gift onto something that I love so much.

Talk about a hefty therapy bill.

Instead, God insisted that it wasn’t my time; that I had a lot of work to do. He made it very clear that I wasn’t meant to have a child before8yxsj9b my 31st birthday because it wasn’t the loving decision – for the child or for me. Over these past twelve months, he’s showed me what it is to finally love myself and to find peace within. All the years, I was looking to others and the world to fill this gapping hole inside of me. Food, alcohol, drugs, parties, clothes, forgotten nights, men – nothing helped.

And after all these years of feeling like I would never find true happiness – here I find it, on the other side of what I thought was the end of my life.

So to my nearly 31-year-old self, I have nothing by gratitude and love. This year was the learning year – the transformative year seven – and I don’t believe it will end at the stroke of 2:20pm. No, this journey is far from over and I couldn’t be more excited.

Bring it on, 31. Show me whaha got!

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Rescue 911: Breakfast Bowls

Let’s face it – no one has time for fancy breakfasts during the week!! But when you’re always on the run and trying to watch your figure (swimsuit season is just around the corner), it can be difficult to find something that fits into your eating plan!

Don’t give up on your goals and cave to the alluring fast food joint on your morning commute to work.

Don’t opt out and pour some sugary, over-processed cereal into a bowl and milk.

AND ESPECIALLY

Don’t skip breakfast!!!

Today, I’m going to show you 7 easy breakfast bowls that you can fix the night before and re-heat OR you can mix up in a jiffy in the morning! Even better is that they use simple ingredients that are repeated in several recipes, so you can prep easily!


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Carrot Cake Quinoa Bowl

  • ½ cup cooked quinoa
  • 2 T coconut milk
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 1 T almond butter
  • ½ cup grated carrots
  • 2 T chopped and toasted walnuts
  • 2 T raisins
  1. In a small saucepan, heat quinoa and milk over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring to ensure that the quinoa doesn’t stick to the bottom!
  2. Add in cinnamon, vanilla, and almond butter. Stir until combine and remove from heat.
  3. Pour quinoa into bowl. Top each with carrots, walnuts, and raisins. Enjoy!

 

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Citrus Breakfast Bowl 

  • ¾ cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 T chia seeds
  • ⅓ cup almond milk (or any kind of milk)
  • ½ cup of short-grain brown rice
  • 2 oranges
  • 1 grapefruit
  1. Mix yogurt, chia seeds, milk, and rice in a small container. Chill in fridge for at least 20 minutes to let the chia seeds expand.
  2. Meanwhile, peel and remove skin from fruit. Dice into smaller chunks.
  3. Remove yogurt mixture from fridge and top with fruit. Enjoy!

 

 

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Comfy Chai Breakfast Bowl 

Homemade Chai Mix

  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cardamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • Pinch of sea salt

Bowls

  • ¼ cup cooked quinoa
  • ¼ cup cooked rolled oats
  • 1 T maple syrup
  • 4 oz. almond milk
  • 1 tsp coffee granules

Toppings

  • 1 T almonds
  • 1 T Cacao Nibs
  • 1 T coconut flakes (unsweetened)
  1. Mix together all chai seasoning ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. Note: this will make more than needed for recipe.
  2. Arrange quinoa and oats in a bowl. Stir in chai mix and maple syrup. Set aside.
  3. Heat almond or coconut milk. Stir in espresso until dissolved, then pour over oats.
  4. Chill in fridge for 2 hrs or overnight.
  5. Remove from fridge, sprinkle with toppings, and enjoy!

 

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Down Home Southern Breakfast Bowl

  • ¼ cup uncooked grits + ingredients to make
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 egg
  • 4 oz. turkey sausage cooked
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  1. In a microwavable container, mix together grits and ingredients to make. Heat according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in skillet and sauté spinach with sausage. Only cook long enough to wilt spinach and heat sausage through.
  3. Add egg to skillet and cook until desired taste.
  4. To assemble, pour grits in bottom of bowl and top with spinach, sausage, and egg. Drizzle with syrup and enjoy immediately!

 

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Greek Yogurt & Quinoa Breakfast Bowl

  • ¾ cup non-fat Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup cooked quinoa
  • ½ banana, sliced
  • 1 T peanut butter
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  1. In a small bowl, heat peanut butter slightly, just enough so it can be poured easily.
  2. In another dish, heat quinoa.
  3. In a serving bowl, place Greek yogurt and quinoa. Top with banana slices and chia seeds. Drizzle peanut butter all over and enjoy!

 

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Pumpkin Banana Quinoa Breakfast Bowl

 

  • ½ cup cooked quinoa
  • ¼ cup almond milk
  • 1 banana, mashed
  • ½ cup pumpkin puree
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp allspice
  • Pinch of salt
  1. In a small saucepan, mix together quinoa, milk, and mashed banana. Heat through over medium heat, stirring to ensure it doesn’t burn the bottom.
  2. Add pumpkin and spices, allowing to heat through.
  3. Pour into a bowl and enjoy immediately!

 

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Vanilla Granola Parfait with Fruit

  • ¾ cup Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup granola of choice
  • 1 cup fruit of choice
  1. In a bowl, arrange granola and yogurt. Top with fruit and enjoy immediately!

 

My Story – Part One

I attended a webinar last week by one of my favorite mentors, Gabby Bernstein. The topic of this live webinar was “how to start doing what you dream of” and during the course of the evening, she asked a very simplistic question – “What is your story?”

I would imagine that half of the people on the call could have answered that question in a heartbeat; they’ve given it some long thought over time. Others, like me, needed to marinate on this question and really dig deep. At the end of the webinar, Gabby circled back to this question and posed us with a dare – to share our story with the world. This week.

So here I am, eight days later, still deliberating on what is my story. I’ve already decided that this will probably take more than one blog post to share my story because, well, I’m very long-winded. And when it comes to something as deep and personal as my story, I’m going to give it everything I’ve got.

Why am I sharing my story? Well other than Gabby Bernstein assigning this personal project to me, I feel that it’s important to share one’s story for the betterment of others. Out of the millions upon billions of humans on this planet who are all so utterly unique, we all share common traits and issues. We experience similar situations, like puberty, heartache, and rejection. I remember having someone comment on my Instagram feed a few months back that I was “too all over the place” and they didn’t want to stick around to “see how my story ended up”. To them and others who are so critical, I simply wish them “goodbye & good luck”.

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My story isn’t for everyone. My story is first and foremost for myself, but also for those who are journeying along a ver similar path. All I want them to know is you’re not alone. I felt so alone when I set out on my own, and it wasn’t until 4 months in that I had some older friends reach out to me with “it’s ok; I know what you’re going through”. I really wish I had found this comfort earlier, which is why I’ve shared my journey every step of the way. Up and down; happy or sad. Because nothing on journeys of the heart ever make that much sense and they rarely ever go according to plan. You simply have to release and let it happen.

and so… here we go…


I would have to say my story probably begins all the way way back in grade school. I was a gangly kid who never quite fit in. I didn’t have long, straight hair (I was convinced I needed this to be considered “pretty”), I wasn’t the same “size” as any other girl my age (my dad was 6′; you do the math), and I wasn’t infatuated with boy bands (NKOTB who?). Can you tell I grew up in the 90’s?

I was floating right along in my own little bubbly world up until about 3rd grade, when my mom began home-schooling us and we started attending church again. It didn’t take me long to realize that I didn’t fit in with the other girls. Not only was I new to the town, I also was hard to miss. I stood at least 6″ inches over most girls my age, putting me near the height of the boys and the older women in our church congregation. This height difference seemed to somehow knock me out of the girl’s one club and since I had no desire to run around getting dirty with the boys, I opted to make friends with the elderly women. At some point during my four years there, I graduated to the adult choir and tried my hand at teaching Sunday school.

I was 8 when we moved back to this town; 12 when we moved away. Not fitting in at church was a bit discouraging, but we thankfully had our other social groups and activities like 4H club and the fitness group we attended weekly. At some point during these formative years, I picked up a really good, yet terrible, habit – perfectionism. My brother, who was two years behind mind, drove my competitive nature even further when he began taking on subjects that I was struggling with – math in particular. I have never been strong in math and neither was my dad, but he insisted that we still had to get good grades. The abstract nature of math always puzzled me, but I refused to get less than an A and certainly couldn’t allow my younger brother to one up me.

While a little perfectionism is natural and even healthy, my level of perfectionism grew as I matured. I seemed all out-of-whack when it came to what I considered “normal” (aka perfect). By the time I was in middle school, I already had glasses and braces. My hair chose this unseeingly time to wig out (literally) and my longer locks turned into this massive frizz ball reminiscent of Farrah Fawcett. While that was highly desired in the 80’s, it wasn’t what the boys were looking for in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Nope – all the “pretty” girls had long, blond hair or voluptuous, curly hair. My bleach blonde hair didn’t stick around long into elementary school, choosing to fade to what I used to refer to as “mousey blonde”. Even “dirty blonde” sounded too pretty for what I considered was on my head.

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Oh and then there was the size of me. The images on television and on magazine covers (you know, the things you look at as you wait in the checkout line?) were all of skinny women with either proportional or very unproportional chests. Very few of them had curves below the waist, which discouraged me because I was definitely the opposite. To be quite honest, I had been stick skinny up until puberty struck much earlier than expected. Then all of a sudden, the straightness was gone, curves were popping out every which way, and I could no longer just eat whatever I wanted. Childhood had vanished; womanhood began. And nowhere on all of the magazine covers could I find a woman that looked like me. I would struggle with this for years.

By middle school, we had moved and I was apart of a youth group. I had a few friends from there that lived nearby, but I still felt like I never really fit in. All the girls were obsessed with boys and kissing; I couldn’t figure out how to keep the hair on my legs to stop growing so quickly. I was super envious of the girls with their shiny braces and cute outfits that were totally short, but they were short so they got away with it. I couldn’t get away with anything because 3/4 of my body were my legs. I think my dad at some point jokingly called me “legs Magee”, but it was true! Any pants we tried to find were high waters on me and prom dress shopping was dreadful as everything was too short or wouldn’t drop past my ankles.

Since I obviously couldn’t control how my body was turning out (terribly, had you asked me), I decided I was going to be one of those girls who got by on her brains. I threw myself even more so into schoolwork, pushing myself to excel in every subject. When it came time to decide on high school, I begged to be allowed to attend the new one opening up down the street. Oh, how I wanted to get up and ride the school bus and deal with lockers and backpacks and crowded hallways. I hadn’t ever dealt with that and for some reason, I’d built it up into this glamorous adventure in my mind. I wanted to try new things; see new classes; play a sport; maybe go on a date. High school was my answer to all of these, and so in the fall of 2000, I entered public high school.

I remember that first day like it was yesterday. I had spent hours picking out the perfect outfit from my back-to-school shopping. I finally settled on a scoop-neck hunter green top with stripes across the middle and khaki pants. I had all of my books and supplies in my backpack and I was really for this new adventure. As I moved from class to class, though, the sparkliness of school began to fade. While everyone was busy catching up over the summer, I sat awkwardly waiting for the teacher to just commence teaching. I silently begged them to start the class right as the bell rung because I didn’t want to be the only one not talking. The final period of the day was the worst, though. I had prayed that I was going to escape without some humiliation attributed to freshmen, but nope – I couldn’t miss it. I remember entering 6th period (science) and having one of the boys ask if I was the teacher. When I responded that I wasn’t, they scoffed over it a bit and mumbled something about my outfit making my look like a teacher.

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And there it was – I didn’t look like anyone else my age. I wasn’t even dressed that odd; but my oddities and awkwardness apparently shown right through the now silly-looking clothes I had some lovingly chosen. I honestly don’t think I ever wore that outfit combination again, for fear that they’d say something again. Instead, I anxiously watched what the other girls were wearing and tried to blend in. I didn’t do anything neat with my hair unless I saw someone else do it first. I barely spoke up in class because I didn’t want to seem like a know-it-all or an idiot (because in math and science, I wasn’t the sharpest). I muddled my way through that first year of high school required courses and began to plot for my next big break – college. If I could be the brainy girl who got amazing grades, I wouldn’t need a cute boyfriend or stunning prom dress to get me into a good school.

Sophomore year was when we learned that my dad was going to be retiring. This meant that I wouldn’t be finishing high school where I was. At first, I was pretty excited about the idea. But sophomore year is also when I met my first “real” boyfriend and I quickly became attached to the idea of us staying together (and getting married, and having kids – the whole sha-bang). As time wore on and we realized that we wouldn’t be staying in Florida, it became apparent that I might not being finishing high school somewhere else after all. My parents were looking at North Carolina and they required less credits than Florida. For me to transfer up my senior year, I would only have one year-long course to take. I begged and pleaded to graduate early – it only made sense. Then when we moved, I could go straight to college and save myself a year.

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It was also during sophomore year that I hit a depression state. I remember learning about poetry and writing sad poems about how lonely I was. Looking back, I don’t know why I was so sad – I was in school with friends; I was playing sports; I had the interest of a few boys; no one was picking on the way I looked. Honestly, if I remember correctly, I had given up m search for being pretty and settled on a more grunge look. It was much more relaxing and comfortable on all levels. But for some reason, I still was sad and so I wrote these depressing poems. I remember being in science class one day when they called me up to the office. I don’t recall exactly what was the reason, but I remember it being something about depression and possible suicidal thoughts. But it was some sort of mix-up and had nothing to do with me, so I was sent back to class. In those moments sitting up in the front office, I was terrified that my mom thought I was suicidal and had sent me to the counselor to be confronted. I don’t think I ever wrote a depressing poem after that day.

When we finally had the permission of the whole school (not really, but it seemed like it), I was able to begin night classes and virtual school. The goal was for me to graduate a year early, completely losing my junior year. The second half of my sophomore year, I opted out of basketball in order to take night classes. I was in classes with all of these kids who were failing and didn’t give a shit; meanwhile I had my nose buried in books, trying to get everything done. I was taking online courses as well, so I wouldn’t have to take as many summer classes. That summer was spent mostly studying, spending time with my boyfriend (who I still believed wouldn’t dump me), and researching colleges in western Carolina.

I was honestly quite content and excited that I was finally doing something different than everyone else. No one really questioned why I was doing it; by junior year, I think we were all over high school. The school newspaper interviewed me about my early graduation and what was driving me to skip the social hype like prom and homecoming. I was really honest – I was inspired by my sophomore and junior science teachers (both female) and really wanted to work in the field of physical therapy. I couldn’t wait to get started because that would require at least a bachelor’s and master’s degree, a minimum of 6 years. I didn’t have time to be dawdling around the high school dances.

mining-the-dark-ir-300x200When I finally graduated, I was ecstatic. Not only was I off to college and getting my second fresh start, but I was going to be living out on my own. I was excited and nervous, all at the same time. Looking back now, I realize that I was just happy to start over. This would become another habit of mine – when something doesn’t work out the way you plan, you tie up loose ends, jump ship, and search out the new path.

to be continued…

 

 

My Wish List

I’m only a week into my year of nutrition school and I’m loving it! I was tremendously frightened to start the new journey, for multiple reasons:

  • It was so much money
  • I have no background in nutrition or medicine
  • I don’t know if I can start a business
  • There’s no degree that comes from this program – just a certification
  • What if I fail?
  • What if I’m not a good coach?
  • What if I can’t relay the material to others?

But, I prayed about it. I know, to some that might sound lame, and I used to agree with them. I thought that I was in charge of my fate and that praying was a sign of weakness; of not being in control of one’s life. But, I’ve come a long way since those days in the “dark” and this was one of the first decisions that I really left up to God.

And now, here I am! Seven days down and…. 358 to go?! {Hope I did the math right there}

This week, we had 3 assignments we had to complete. I honestly spent over an hour working on the assignment and I got super worried that I was spending too much time on the assignment. A good friend of mine is 6 months ahead of me and said, well if it speaks to you, you should definitely spend the time on it. {I wound up flying through the other two assignments, so it all worked out in the end}.

Anyways, the first assignment was called “The Wish List”, where we had to write about what our wishes are for the key elements that are meaningful in our lives. For me, that would be health, spirituality, relationships, and career. The first two are of more importance to me right now because that’s where I see my life going. So relationships and career kind of fell to the short list without as many details. Honestly, this is because I don’t believe that I have a lot of control over that (well none of it is in my control, but I can’t just will myself to be pregnant here), so I don’t want to expend energy in those areas. I’ve spent energy there – countless days, hours, months, and years – without much positivity. Why continue to beat a dead horse, so to speak?

Now, we didn’t have to formally submit this assignment, but I’m finding that I really do love the prompts that they give us. And after reading all of my response, I felt compelled to share the ideas here for others to try ❤️


My Wish List

I want a marriage full of trust and happiness. I know that things won’t always be carefree, Snip20170326_5but I don’t want things to be awkward or a constant battle of wills. I also want to start a family and raise my children in a home of love, fun, and knowledge. My mother was blessed enough to stay home with us and homeschool us for several years (my brother only went to kindergarten). She never had to choose between watching us grow or work – she was there every step of the way. I don’t want to ever have to choose between putting food on the table/roof over our heads and whether or not to help my child succeed/watch my child grow. I don’t want to have my child forego activities because a) I can’t take them or b) I am never there to see them. In saying this, it leads me to my decision that I want a career that supports my choice to put my family first. I want to watch my children grow and have them partake in activities, knowing that I will go to their games/shows.

Snip20170326_4I want to feel alive and healthy. I was never super active as a child – I preferred to read inside. And while I never experienced obesity as a child, I was always a bit heavier (my mom called it big-boned). I chose studies over sports in high school and then partied too much in college. College is where it all went downhill with the late nights serving at restaurants or partying with friends. I drank and really ate very unhealthy, causing me to gain weight. I would do Weight Watchers and lose it, but I yo-yo’ed for several years. The heaviest I think I was close to 200 lbs, which was winter of 2011-2012. I dislocated my knee the 2nd week of January and I have to admit that was a HUGE eye-opener for me. I hated no being able to move, and when I finally got cleared for the gym, I made myself go every day for the bike and the elliptical. I lost nearly 50 lbs and when I met my husband, I was about 30 lbs down. He asked what I hated most about my body and I said “my legs”, so he worked on me running.

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I began to enjoy it and got a kick out of eventually beating him on our nightly jogs! However, I used running as a means to stay skinny and to feel good about how I looked. Not necessarily a terrible thing, but not the healthiest reason to be doing something. I was desperate for approval on my looks and being skinny was the only time I ever got it. I dropped down to under 140 lbs right before our wedding and that was 2 years ago. I think with all of the stress and wanting to look “sexy” took over me and I began to develop some unhealthy habits. Prior to the wedding, I was taking Hydroxycuts daily to help with my energy and my appetite. I continued to take them up until Halloween 2015, when I also chose to get off birth control. Those two combined (paired with the holiday sweets) really set me up for a weight battle.

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I remember going home for Christmas and hating how bloated and yucky I felt. I know I was eating more and drinking due to stress (we were just starting to try to get pregnant). Four months and many fights later, we weren’t getting anywhere. I was driving myself crazy with tracking and testing. I found a clean eating group and decided it was time to shift my focus. Instead of obsessing over what days I might be ovulating (or the fact that I wasn’t actually ovulating according to ALL tests), I started working out and running 5 days a week. I set mini goals for myself and started to do things for my health and body – for ME. It was an enlightening change of mindset and one that I frankly fell quite in love with. What I didn’t realize was how these little things would so drastically change my life.

Here I am, a year later, starting nutrition school. Has you told me last year this is where I would be, I would’ve laughed at you. I never in a million years would have dreamt of signing up for nutrition school I never would have dreamt of runninwhatsapp-image-2017-02-24-at-8-12-52-pmg a half marathon (which I’ve done once and will do twice more within the next 30 days), let alone running a FULL marathon. I never would have dreamt that I would have left my husband and my best friend to move home; to restart my life. Although I am not at my skinniest (and probably not my healthiest), I am working on the lesson of learning to love myself. I am learning to judge myself based on improving how I feel, not on what others think. I’m still struggling with self-image, but it’s really tied more to how I feel. When I feel bloated and constipated, I feel gross and ugly. BUT, the
se are true feelings and while yes, I do feel ugly due to them, they’re also not healthy feelings! So by diminishing these feelings, I will in turn elevate my self-love and self-care.

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Finally, I want to feel connected. I am so tired of drama and ego-driven chaos that has ruled my world for, oh, the last 12+ years. I am tired of relationships (acquaintances, friendships, family connections, and even intimate relationships) that no longer serve me. I am tired of holding grudges and not forgiving. I’m tired of the evil and toxicity that I’ve allowed to lurk in the shadows of my life. I’m tired of not healing from the past and dragging it around from relationship to relationship, only to add more to the luggage as each year passes.

Last year, right before the new year began I made a promise to myself to not bring in the chaos and toxicity into 2017. I have been struggling – dealing with the lurking ex-best friend attacks and then the ego-driven email she sent in response to my wishing-you-well email. Dealing with the husband and all of the drama of that relationship – up and down/depression. But overall, I have felt more connected and on a calmer level. More strength and a willingness to give it to God. I owe this to my study of The Course of Miracles and my openness to new experiences.

What Is My Body Saying NO To?

In preparation for my new journey, I had these two questions posed to me during my orientation exercises for school.

  • “What does my body need in order to heal?”
  • “What is my body saying no to?”

I was actually really shocked at how quickly I was able to answer both of these questions. It’s like my mind had been secretly dwelling on these questions for months, formulating the answers and waiting until the right moment to be asked. Let’s address them, shall we?

What does my body need to heal?

A heck of a lot of love, time, and some more tough love. I have always put myself last unless I’ve been single. Which is, like, never. I never ever think of myself – I’m always thinking of others. I will enter into a relationship and give you everything that you want and ask for, but take little in return. Which, in typing this now, is a fucking joke. All the times I heard, “you must love yourself in order to be loved and love others”, I was like, “yep – I got that”. Which was bull shit, because I don’t. I would seriously sit there and try to convince myself that I loved myself, but deep down I knew it wasn’t true.

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Well, last spring I’d had enough. I had spent 6 months trying to get pregnant and was pretty much fighting with my husband because I wanted it, but he didn’t see the point in it having to happen “right now”. I was about to turn 30 and I was losing my mind that not only did I not have children (something I was SURE would have happened by this age), but I wasn’t even pregnant. I was beginning to doubt my marriage and whether I’d chosen the right man to marry. It’s not that I didn’t love him – because trust me I did and still do. I just questioned why we were at such odds against each other and were we meant for each other? I know – heavy, right? Add to this that we were just celebrating our first wedding anniversary and I’m having these thoughts. Oh, and he’d pretty much not been around for those first 12 months because he was studying for a major exam – one that could change his career. Yikes.

So, yah, there I was – freaking out because I was not ovulating, my period was out of sync, and I was not feeling quite secure in my marriage. Shortly after my 30th birthday, I realized I needed to take a huge chill pill and just LIVE. A friend of mine offered me to join her 5-day clean eating group and I thought, why not. I had no clue what it was, but it sounded cool. And I fell in love with it. It was so simple and made so much sense! I joined her Beachbody team and started working out, which actually really helped my knees (which were having issues because I’d taken up running again). Oh, I had found happiness. And routine – which I love, by the way. I was eating better, meal prepping, working out 5 days a week, and running/training for a 10K five days a week. I was on cloud 9.

My husband was not and that whole darkness pretty much imploded then exploded onto me. My whole life changed. I had to make a hard decision – stay and see if he was right about “never doing it again” or hightail it for the hills because I’d heard that line before. For once in my life, I took the hard road. I left, convinced that I would never work things out with him. I continued eating healthy, but I also continued to pressure myself.

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In early December, I pretty much had a breakdown. I was pushing myself to eat clean, work 40 hours, read/write/blog, cook my own meals, train for my 15K, and continue to work out 7 days a week. Holy crap, right? I literally woke up one Wednesday morning and was like, “I can’t go to work”. I cried and cried and my mom didn’t know what to do with me other than hug me and pray. I slept that day and when I finally woke up, I spent time with my puppy and baked Christmas cookies. That day was a wide awakening moment for me because I realized I couldn’t continue to do this to myself. I was being so harsh on myself that I still felt like I was living in the very chaos that I had left.

Since then, I’ve been trying to take more time out for ME.

  • I am still working 40 hours, which is a blessing that I never thought I would have. I work from home, which is nice because when I do have my bad days, no one has to see/hear me cry. I can do it and still work.
  • I cut the workout regime and told myself to choose – running or working out. I couldn’t do both and maintain a level of sanity and at least 7 hours of sleep. I chose running and although I lament and gripe at myself sometimes, I’m really happier.
  • Running allows me to escape from the house and my problems – even for just 3 miles. I’ve just completed my 15K and I’m training for two half marathons, followed by a marathon. I’m even contemplating if I should become a running coach (although I literally only have a year’s consistent experience).
  • I’ve started studying A Course of Miracles with one of my best friends, which has brought me into a more spiritual connection and provided me with many positive tools.
  • I’m beginning to meditate more and practice yoga, which is helpful on so many levels.

I would say that my body and mind still need this separation from the “real world”, if you will. I’m home with my parents, working to save up money for a place of my own. I recently visited my husband, who I’ve been separated physically from (not on paper or anything) since late September. The time I spent with him was actually quite nice, but even in just the 48 hours I was there, I noticed my habits falling off. I chose to sleep in with him instead of waking up to read my Course lesson before appointments. Not the worst thing, but that’s something I’ve done religiously every day since January 1st and I chose not to this one day because I knew he wanted to sleep in.

And that is what triggered my fear – that already, after just 48 hours, I was giving up what I wanted for what I thought he wanted. Now, had I told him I needed to get up in time so I could read – would he have been ok with it? Probably, but maybe not. I won’t know until the next time I visit. But one of the things that was very very wrong about our relationship is that he was good about declaring what he wanted and easily angered when he didn’t get it. I never stood up for myself when he didn’t do what I wanted; I always forgave him or turned a blind eye. When I would finally put my foot down and state what I wanted/needed, it would be done begrudgingly and I would hear about it later in arguments. As I began to stand up for what I wanted and putting my foot down, it quickly turned into a me vs. him situation. It was quite disastrous!

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I have worked so hard to break myself down into the tiniest pieces and I’m finally beginning to understand the way that I am. I’m finally realizing who I am and learning to love who I am – imperfections and all. I’m not completely healed and I’m not completely back together – but I’m still on that journey. And I’m not willing to give that up for anyone or anything. Maybe that sounds selfish, but it’s something that I should’ve done years ago. Had I done it then, I could have saved myself a lot of pain, abuse, and heartache. I may have never entered into this relationship or marriage. All I know is I can’t turn back time and there’s some reason that God wanted me to go through this. So I am, and I’m not stopping until I have fully claimed myself.

What is my body saying no to?

  • Stress – but it’s always going to be there. Tapping, meditation, and running have really helped me with this.
  • Anxiety – feeling out of control. Tapping is something that I’m learning to tap into (no pun intended) so that I can work through the attacks that I have.

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  • Conformity – I am so tired of trying to “fit in” or be a part of something. I have struggled most of my childhood and well into my adulthood with trying to find some way to be accepted by the world and those around me. It has driven me to drugs, alcohol, and so many negative beliefs that are now hard-wired into my soul. I pretty much lost myself over the past 20+ years and showed up face-to-face with myself last year like “who the fuck are you??” And you know what’s sad? I couldn’t answer that simple of a question, because I never have known who I am. I am a chameleon – I conform and change to meet the situations I’m in and the people I’m with. Isn’t that terrible??
  • Chaos – I lived in chaos for most of 2016 and I absolutely hated it. You feel out of control in the world and it reflects back on your own life… and when you lose control of yourself – the inside, deep-down part of you – you lose everything. I refuse to go through that hell again.

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  • Anger – I can’t do it anymore. I have enough anger as it stands on my own; I don’t need any front the world, my marriage, my friends, or my family. I have been working to channel, understand, and control my anger over these past 3-4 months. The work is far from over, but I have learned one thing: I don’t want the anger in my life. I believe anger is a triggered reaction – a reaction triggered by FEAR. When I hear something I don’t like or I’m afraid of, I get angry and I lash out. Often times, I don’t really mean it – I’m just fearful of what could happen. I have to learn to channel or re-direct that fear. I expect those I allow into my life to do the same.