Fitness vs. Sports – Balancing performance and personal goals.

I can’t be the only one struggling with this right now. Please tell me I’m not alone! Do you work out? Do you play sports? Do you do both? Well I do; both I mean. I’m a top level athlete but I also find myself constantly making fitness goals which don’t directly correlate to my performance as that athlete. To be straight forward – some of my fitness goals are more related to looks then performance.

The body is an amazing thing. There are many ways to manipulate it. All athletes, no matter the sport, try countless way to tweak their training to optimize their performance in their sport of choice. The challenge is when to push and when to peak. Additionally, when is it okay to care about looks over performance? 15137468_1129144327122165_4496474770962144735_o

I’m a volleyball player. In college, it was pretty clear. The off-season was the time to push and the season was the time to peak. The problem was I found myself peaking physically in August when I needed to be peaking in November. From January to July I was upping my lifting weight. I was jumping higher. I was balancing my diet. I was able to push myself because I knew I didn’t have to perform anytime soon. But physical training during the season is a different – it feels like it has to be. Lifting hard in the morning directly affects the body in practice in the evening. Then when I can’t practice well in full form it is difficult to find a rhythm during game performances. It’s a bit of a cycle.

In the US, it was a bit easier to balance because the in-season part of the year is fairly short – 4 months. Internationally, seasons can range from 2 months to 10 months depending on where you play.

As much as I would love to lift, eat and workout to only look good. As a serious athlete, performance has to come first. Now, I just have to try not to get caught up in the Instagram hype of the #FitChicks. And of course, working out and eating healthy to perform as a volleyball athlete isn’t like fitness suicide. Generally speaking – volleyball girls do okay as far as looking fit. 🙂

I’m curious what y’all think of this problem. Do any of you have problems with the balance? Do any of you have a preference about training for performance or training for looks? Write below: questions, comments, thoughts, concerns!

 

3 easy tips to make your New Year’s resolutions stick!

Happy New Year! Another new year means another opportunity to set new resolutions. There are two kinds of people in the world. Those who love New Years resolutions and those who hate them. Which one are you?

Okay, okay that may be dramatic. But have you noticed that for whatever reason, this is one of the things our society has targeted to tear apart? Every year there are new years resolutions memes mocking the habit and discouraging those who take the challenge. Some of them are sarcastic. Others are harsh. But either way, there is a negative attitude towards the idea of starting the new year with new habits.

Me personally, I’m a huge fan! I love lists. I love challenges. I love opportunities. So New Year’s resolutions are like the trifecta; the opportunity to write down a list of challenges?! YES PLEASE!

Every year, I make resolutions. I have done this for as long as I can remember. They have been anything from physical, educational, spiritual, or relational goals. Some years, I do really well. Some years, my results are embarrassing to admit. Looking back now, I have some perspective as to what worked; what didn’t work; and why.

Here are 3 easy tips to make your New Year’s resolutions stick: Write it. Plan it. Mean it.

Write it! There have been times in years past when my resolutions were more serious than others but I really didn’t start sticking to them until I made it a priority to write them down. Putting a pen to paper (or I suppose my thumbs to my phone’s keypad) made it seem more final and concrete. I’m a competitive person. If I see a written list; it’s like daring me to accomplish it. Plus, if you need to additional motivation… I recommend writing it in a place others can see. Me personally, I write it on my phone and sometimes screenshot the list and put it as my background. I’ve even posted them on social media before. Whether those who saw it will actually hold you accountable or not, the fact you announced it publicly holds power.

Plan it! While writing it is important and a way for self-accountability; planning your steps for attack is also vitally important. Then instead of it simply being a list, it is now a list which you possess the key to complete. Make small practical steps. Make a timetable to complete pieces of each resolution. Create reminders on your mirror or in your phone to keep your motivated. I use the list app on my iPhone to keep me organized. I check things off as I accomplish them from day-to-day or month-to-month. Set yourself up for success but giving yourself a clear direction!

Mean it! You may think by writing it down and making a plan to complete it, you are clearly serious about your resolution. Therefore, you mean it! While that might be the case, I would also argue you can’t really “mean it” if you pick too many things. You are only human and only capable of a certain amount. You can’t vow to complete everything all in the same year. Pick your battles. Start small but stick to them. I generally chose goals from three categories which don’t overlap so I can focus on each separately. My three categories are: physical, spiritual, and mental. It’s amazing how good it feels to simply accomplish something you said you would!

I’ll share a bit about my personal journey. Last year, I vowed that 2017 would be the year I would do the splits. I wrote it down. I told those who are close to me about my goal. I made a plan through reminders as to how often I would train my flexibility. It was the only physical goal I made it 2017 so I meant it! I was focused and ready. I’ve always been an inflexible person. I started the year unable to even touch my own toes. I had ups and downs throughout the year. I definitely ignored my reminders to stretch more than once. But overall my flexibility was improving and it was exciting. When the end of the year rolled around; I failed. I was close. But I didn’t accomplish my goal. I learned a lot from the experience. I had a lot of people ask me throughout the journey about how it was going. I even had people over Christmas ask for a photo. I chose not to be embarrassed but to be proud of the improvement. And when it came time to make my 2018 list, the splits went on there again! Allow me to be corny for a second and refer to the saying about “it isn’t about the destination but the journey.” I learned! And now, I want to stay on the path of improving my flexibility.

No matter what you are trying to accomplish, I believe no time is as good as the present to take a leap and just start. Whether you use the motto of “new year = new me” or not, dare to challenge yourself and improve!

 

 

 

 

 

Why I jumped on the vegan bandwagon

Have you noticed a lot of people becoming vegan lately? Every time I turn around, I feel like I meet a new person who has made a major diet change – namely, the change to vegan. One of those people would be me.

What is vegan? Vegan is “a person who does not eat or use animal products”. What kind of person comes to mind when you hear vegan? For me, it was these hippy, gypsy, green, tree-hugger types. Who would honestly choose this life? No milk. No meat. No cheese. WHY?

I’ve done a lot of different diets, cleanses, or clean-eating strategies throughout my life. As a professional athlete, it comes with the job. You feel an unbelievable amount of pressure to stay fit and be healthy. Nutrition is a big part of that. However, the thought had never crossed my mind to go vegan. For heavens sakes, vegan is vegetarian for the insane, right?

So what changed? Well, I watched this documentary on Netflix called “What the Health”. I had heard a lot about it from friends and family but nothing prepared me for what I watched. In 1 hour and 32 minutes, my life changed. The film explores the connection between diet and chronic disease. It also adds an element or corporate corruption; and who doesn’t love a good scandal?

IMG_0791My journey with veganism started in an instant but it is, in fact, a journey. I began reading, researching, and watching other sources of information. As I studied, the case against animal products began to mount. Now, here I am – a “vegan” of sorts.

I feel no moral obligation to veganism. I’m not an animal rights activist. I recycle a normal amount. I am simply an advocate of health. The facts are there. The myths I’ve been taught my whole life have been debunked. I’m grateful I have the educational background in health, nutrition, and fitness to take this path confidently and healthily. It’s a journey and while I use this word “vegan”; I don’t actually feel worthy of using it because it isn’t entirely accurate. When people ask me to label it, I answer by saying “I’m a plant-based, whole-foods, flexitarian.” But since I live in Europe and language barriers are real; I do end up saying “vegan” more often than not.

What do I mean by flexitarian?

First. If someone serves me something non-vegan – I will eat it. I don’t feel like someone who cooks a nice meal in their own home should have to cater to my preferences. And how awkward to turndown the food they prepared and served!

Second. If a restaurant doesn’t have a truly vegan option (that doesn’t make me want to puke) I will pick the closest enjoyable option.

Third. I use butter on the pan to cook my vegan pancakes because omg it just cooks them so perfectly.

Fourth. I believe in cheat meals to keep my sanity. I live on a 95 to 5 percent ratio. Meaning, 95% of my total food intake I try to eat plant-based and whole-foods and 5% of the time I allow all the other stuff.

If you are looking for a change, I recommend a diet change. It’s unlike other things. It a unique challenge that will change your life. My advice, do your research! The whole purpose of a diet change is to be more healthy and if you don’t do it correctly it could be detrimental to your body. While I’ve fallen in love with plant-based, whole-foods flexitarianism you might find another variant that your body loves.

I encourage you! Try it; try something! Whether you’re 18 or 80, thin or thick, healthy or sick, busy or free as a bird; do your research then challenge yourself! Good luck!