Dear Ladies: This is what you deserve

Valentine’s Day. It is either one of the best, or worst days of the year depending on the person. For those who have a valentine, it is a day to spend with someone you care a lot about. On the other hand, it can be a day to highlight the fact that you are a single Pringle, and may feel really down about it. But why should you? Just because you aren’t posting a V-Day picture on Instagram with excessive hearts in the caption, is no reason to feel lonely, or rush to get into a relationship just to hop on the mushy bandwagon. Heck, those who are in a relationship shouldn’t need one day of the year to recognize how much they like the other person, that should be everyday.

Recently, I overheard a conversation at Starbucks between two women about their marriage problems, and how they weren’t being treated well since they tied the knot. They mentioned that dating when they were younger was so much easier than dating as they got older. It led me to wondering why they settled for that in the first place, but also sparked my psych brain and made me think more about why they said it was harder as we get older, because I have felt the same thing. The conclusion that came to me, was that as we get older, there is pressure added to find someone out of college because of the expectation to graduate with a degree, and a dude. Ironically, I just read an article for class that said the exact same thing as the conclusion I came to. There’s a running joke that says some girls go to college to find a husband, and as Shmuel Schulman (what a name) and Jennifer Connolly wrote in their 2013 article, it’s actually not a joke. They explained that this leads back to the evolutionary theory, as women tend to like to couple up in order to feel safe and secure. Because of this expectation to find someone by a certain time, and how we are wired, it can lead to settling for less than what we deserve. This post is to proclaim to all my ladies reading this (and even the gentleman, it goes for both) that there is NO RUSH because that person you’re picturing in your mind is out there. For the record, these may seem so cliche and predictable, but when that pressure of finding someone is added, some will talk themselves into believing that some of these aren’t important when they are! Ladies, you deserve someone who….


1. Is attractive: Both ways

I’m just going to start with the most obvious one here. The first step in finding someone that you truly and genuinely want to be with, is finding someone you are attracted to! My mom has always told me how important it is to be physically attracted to someone first. Yes, society tells us to not judge a book by its cover because it is what is inside that matters most. While that is true, people aren’t books! There is no faking physical attraction to someone when you are not, no matter how hard you try. It’s similar to opening a gift you truly like versus opening a gift that is so ugly, but you have to fake that you like it in front of Grandma. When you like the gift, the feelings and excitement come naturally, but on the other hand when the gift is “eh”, everything feels forced. There is a lot of negative stigma around “swiping” apps such as Tinder and Bumble, but psychology says that your gut feeling is usually correct according to the Implicit Personality Theory. This states that a first impression can be made quickly, and ACCURATELY, from very little information. If you aren’t attracted to them right away, you swipe left. Common sense, right? Looks are important, so follow your gut and don’t settle if you don’t like what you see! It doesn’t just apply to Tinder, it applies in all situations where you meet someone new whether that be at Starbucks, the bar, the library, the grocery store etc. That being said, it is also important to get to know someone beyond their looks, and see if their heart and personality are as attractive as their face and good biceps. Some guys can get away with their good looks, and put girls in a “spell” of infatuation, but in the long run, their perfect smile won’t make you happy when they aren’t genuine, or just tell you what you want to hear.

2. Wants to see you

I bet you just read this and thought “well no duh, Lauren.” You’d be surprised at the number of times a guy has chosen sleeping, video games, the Casino, a night with the boys (it wasn’t even “Saturday for the boys”), and not wanting to drive because it wastes gas, over time with me. Ladies, getting a guy to spend time with you shouldn’t require begging, bribing, or feel harder than trying to catch your dog when they are running around with your socks. I’ve come to learn over the years just how frustrating, and unordinary, it is to continuously beg a guy to come watch me compete at my gymnastics meet, go out to dinner, walk Gracie with me, study together, or go do something fun! You deserve someone who will SHOW you, and not just tell you, that they want to see you. As I say, it is the little things, such as driving just to come sit with you in a coffee shop for an hour, make plans to see you for the week, agree to watch The Bachelor just because it is time with you, and take initiative to see you! It doesn’t take much, and it shouldn’t have to. Nothing should feel one sided when it comes to wanting to see each other. When you find that someone, they should want to be with you on the good and bad days, rain or shine, when you’re in sweats or looking your best, one mile or 1000000 miles away, and they won’t care what you do together as long as it means getting to be with you. Sound like #goals? That’s what reality should be.

3. Is easy to be with

Sure, first dates are always a little bit awkward, we try to impress the other person. That is a given. But if the next couple dates continue to be awkward where conversation doesn’t flow, you’re still ordering something “easy” to eat and not messy just to look better, and you’re still talking about how nice/not nice the weather is? That’s a red flag. You deserve to be with someone where you don’t feel like you are forcing yourself to laugh at what they say, smile, daintily eat a french fry, or do normal person things that really should come naturally. It can be hard to explain what “easy to be with” feels like, but if it doesn’t start to feel like you are hanging out with a close friend where you can talk for hours about literally anything, that’s not good! Easy to be with, for me, means I can’t stop smiling, laughing, can roast them and they will dish it right back, and I feel like I’ve known the person for years rather than almost an hour. If you are low key dreading doing something with them again because it’s difficult to have a conversation or act natural around them (I’ve felt this), don’t follow through with it (I did, bad move). Yeah, they may be a cute and kind person, but why settle for someone that you aren’t having fun with? My mom has told me to imagine what they would be like in the future. So in this case, imagine yourself sitting in a house with someone someday, maybe married for ten years; still talking about the weather, forcing laughs, and not eating pasta because it’s embarrassing to slurp a noodle. You then look out the window and see the couple next door is outside having a snowball fight and making fun of each other like best friends. I’d rather take 50 snowballs to the face from someone I love being with than feel like I’m walking around on pins and needles all the time.

4. Allows you to be yourself

What is the point of being with someone if you can’t be who you truly are? The relationships that thrive are the ones that are honest, and hiding who you are because you are afraid they won’t like the real you is a form of dishonesty. I will admit, I hold back a bit on the first date. I’m shy, girly, polite, all that good stuff…but that isn’t the real me as bad as that sounds. Often times, it turns out the guy likes it even more when I act more myself which is witty, smiley, sarcastic, randomly does handstands, makes bad puns, and is a little less girly (I’m still nice, no worries). Find someone that allows you to make a fool of yourself, accepts you on your bad days, and they can’t get enough of it. You should be able to show them all your personalities! We all act different depending on who we are with as much as we hate to admit it. I have a different personality for when I’m with my family, my best friend, my team, etc. But with that person, you should be able to show them all sides, including crabby. (Yes guys, it is a sign of progress when you see our crabby side). Find someone that lets you use your real laugh (ladies, you know what I am talking about). Be with someone that doesn’t care if you didn’t do your makeup, send an ugly snapchat, are wearing sweats, or send sweaty snapchats from the gym to them. If at any point they make you feel ashamed or embarrassed about your fear of fish, study habits, your values, your health, family traditions, weird quirks, goals, or anything else important to you, that is a HUGE red flag! The person that you are meant to be with, actually pulls the real you out of yourself, and it is a great feeling!

5. Puts you on a pedestal

I’m the type of person who doesn’t ask for this, or expect anything over the top, but they should want to make you feel beautiful, and show their appreciation for you without you asking for it. A relationship without any compliments on how you look, or excitement over an accomplishment, ultimately leads to no motivation to continue it, and makes you feel stuck. Everyone wants to feel appreciated, and honestly, if they don’t look at you the way they look at their Chipotle, they ain’t worth your time. When you find someone that shows you their appreciation, it means two things. The first, is that they pay attention to you. If they compliment you on your new haircut, your outfit, your green eyes, your sparkly eyeshadow, etc, it means they notice what you do, what you say, and remember the little things about you. Second, it truly means they are infatuated with you, and are genuinely interested! Their eyes should light up when you get out of your car, tell you that you’re gorgeous no matter what you are wearing, not be embarrassed to tell their parents about you, send you texts just to let you know how lucky they are to have you, and lastly, look at you first, and then proceed to eye the bag of Chipotle in hand! Those who don’t do this are either not as into you as you thought, or not respectful/mature enough to realize that this is a must. It’s not hard to do, and is one of those simple things that leads to so much growth. We all know our parents are great at putting us on a pedestal, but that is because they have to. Your person should want to.

6. Has goals

This one may not be on everyone’s list, but someone with ambition tells you several things about them. Just like someone’s Spotify playlists may not seem important, it can tell you a lot about someone! The first thing it tells you, is that they know how to care for something, and know what passion feels like. If someone doesn’t have any goals, it tends to mean that there is little to no caring about what happens, or they have no passion (but not always), which can easily transition over to a relationship. Second, goals mean that they have some type of game plan. Being someone who likes to plan, finding someone who also likes to have a plan of how to get from point A to point B is very attractive. One cannot make goals without at least thinking about how they will get there, otherwise they are just dreams. Third, goals mean that they have a purpose for what they do. Find someone who does things with intent, has a reason for what they do, and thinks about how their actions will help them in the long run, which in turn will help them get closer to their goals. Fourth, goals mean stability (depending on the goal). It shows that they will work for what they want, and us gals like to feel stable as I mentioned earlier. Lastly, if they have goals, and are truly interested in you, chances are, you are probably a part of their goals, and will care, make a plan, have purpose with you, and work to be with you. Goals aren’t just an end point. It is the process of getting there, and the skills needed, that are beneficial and can spill over into relationships. Find someone who has goals and a plan for their life, because chances are, they also have the rest of these elements.

7. Is honest

When I say honest, I mean in every way possible. There are so many forms of deception that can hurt relationships such as straight up lying, not revealing all of the story, lying to protect someone, little white lies, pointless lies, being fake etc. It is such a good habit to not lie about unnecessary things. I know I have done this before; I said I took one road to get somewhere when I actually took another. Why? I don’t know! Did it matter what road I took? Absolutely not. But we are so good at doing this, and do it a lot. I know I can generalize this phenomenon to the whole population. It may be harmless, but it can snowball into a habit of dishonesty that will bite you in the butt. I personally don’t like things sugar coated, so if I ask the guy I am with if I look bad, I want them to tell me I look bad if I actually do! Tell me my butt looks big in those jeans, tell me that I have spinach in my teeth, tell me if I have something on my face, and all the other embarrassing stuff. Lying to protect someone, is not protecting them at all. I don’t want the person I am with to lie about what they are doing just because it may not be something I am interested in, or they think I won’t like it. You deserve someone that is straightforward and tells you how they feel, because guessing or trying to read into one word texts can lead to more trouble. Find someone that isn’t afraid to own up to their past and the mistakes they have made. Seriously, if someone is afraid to tell you something, that is a huge red flag. It may sound bad now, but you deserve someone that tells you that your breath stinks.

8. Has the same interests as you

This one is also pretty straight forward, but so many people overlook this one and say it isn’t THAT important. Yes it is! Someone may be attractive, honest, treat you like a queen, have goals, and all the other criteria on here; but if their ideal day is to sit on the couch and do nothing, that is a huge red flag! Don’t ever settle for that unless that is also your ideal day, then you two are perfect for each other. A relationship can be so much fun, and have so much more passion, when the two of you do things you both enjoy. For me, finding out that they like sports, are into fitness like I am, will go skating or out to eat, but can also be down to have a relaxing movie night makes them so much more attractive to me. It can be so hard to be with someone who doesn’t understand why you do what you do, and doesn’t get excited over things like you do. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t be with someone that doesn’t have the same interests as you, but in that case, they should give it a try, and try to appreciate it with you. A good example of this is my own parents. My dad is a big hockey guy, and with my mom being from Kentucky, she didn’t know much about it. Once she moved here she gave it a shot, and started to appreciate it because my dad loved it. Don’t settle for someone who refuses to go to a gymnastics meet, listen to country music, eat at your favorite restaurant, or forget your family member’s names. What is important to you, should be important to them, too.

9. Cheers you on

Someone that cheers you on, indicates that they know your goals, and have an interest in what you are doing. I know that when I have gotten an A on something, got a 9.3 on bars, landed my vault that I usually break my ankles on, or made it through a Terrible Tuesday, I can’t wait to tell someone that will actually be proud of me! Your special someone should be that person. You deserve someone who hypes you up, rather than is jealous of your success, or simply replies “cool.” There have been times where I have been with someone, and am so excited to tell them about an accomplishment, and they didn’t seem to care at all, which in turn totally sucked out all of my excitement. When you are with the right person, your goals will be just as important as theirs, and they will support you through it all. Don’t settle for someone who makes you feel like your goals are nothing, your successes aren’t worth anything, or you aren’t getting any support at all in tough times. Find someone who celebrates the little victories such as finally microwaving popcorn without burning it, but also the big victories like landing an internship for the summer. Everyone needs a cheerleader, and while you’ve always got your mom or your grandma on Facebook (nothing cheers you up like reading comments on a picture of you that your mom posted), it means so much more coming from that special someone.

10. Makes you excited for each day

Have you ever heard the saying “I don’t want to fall asleep because reality is finally better than my dreams?” As cheesy as that sounds, it is true. There is no better feeling than waking up in the morning knowing that your day is going to be great, just because you get to spend time with someone. I’ve had many days where I have woken up with little motivation because there is nothing to be excited about that day (I know it sounds sad, for the record, it’s usually Tuesdays). It is just average. When you find the person that you truly deserve, you will feel excited to take on the day because you know you get to be with someone who is attractive both inside and out, wants to see you just as bad as you want to see them, is easy to be with, can tell them about wiping out in the caf and not be judged, makes you feel great about yourself, has goals to share with you, will always hear the truth, can do your favorite things together, and will support you. Your happiness will be as immense as the run on sentence I just wrote! Don’t settle until your life becomes that run on sentence.

We all deserve to find someone that checks off all the criteria on our list, and while that may require some patience, it is far better than settling for something that doesn’t make you feel like you are that “middle school crush” kind of giddy. Every single element on your list is important, and while it may seem selfish or impossible to have certain expectations, it is not! I truly believe God allows good things happen to those who wait, and all good things may come with patience. Once you let go of the notion that you must have that someone by a certain life milestone, everything becomes so much more clear.

Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope it is spent in a way that makes you as happy as when your jeans fit from last year, Deb in the caf doesn’t over charge you for your dinner (you know Gusties), you get the last table at Starbucks, the end spot on the street is open so you don’t have to parallel park, the Vikings finally win, or a home run in the bottom of the 9th with bases loaded!

~Lauren

Mindful Eating: How/why you should practice it

The world we live in now is so used to instant gratification. So many of us do things without even thinking about why we do them, we “just do it” as Nike says. Think about it, have you ever asked yourself why you pour the cereal in the bowl first and then the milk, as opposed to milk first then cereal? You have a reason for doing so, but you’ve never tuned in with yourself to figure out why. Mindfulness, simply put, is observing what you think/do, and why. It can be applied to many habits such as checking your phone once you are alone, an addiction, picking your nails, fidgeting etc..but today, I am going to focus on mindful eating. Many people just eat because it is there, or eat to get rid of uncomfortable emotions (otherwise known as stress eating), which in turn creates unhealthy habits. This applies to everyday life; have you ever watched TV with a big bowl of popcorn and before you knew it, the bowl was empty and you didn’t remember eating that much? How about have a bad day at work or school and reach for the nearest sugar source? Nothing about those examples is mindful.

So why does this even matter? Two reasons. The most obvious reason people say is that it hinders weight loss efforts, or is simply a bad habit because eating five times the serving size isn’t the best for you. Every time eating is used to rid feelings of boredom or negative feelings, that pattern becomes engraved deeper into our brains, making it hard to get ourselves out of. TV then gets unconsciously associated with chips, and stress with snacks. Second, what most people don’t know, which I have come to know, is that being mindful when eating leads to better gut health (because we aren’t feeding ourselves trash), which leads to better brain health, which leads to better health overall! The stomach is connected to the brain in so many ways, it is essentially your second brain due to all the nerve connections, and can directly affect mood and thought processes, which is why mindful eating should be something that everyone is doing. It is not just for those who want to break a habit or lose weight. Here are 10 things to do in order to be mindful when eating.


1. Be thankful

One of the most repeated terms I have heard from my doctor this year, is “rest and digest.” There is a purpose for taking time before you eat to pray be thankful for the food on the table, or nowadays, take a picture of your McNuggets because they are snap worthy. Our bodies have two modes when we are put under stress: fight or flight. When we are in flight mode, our body shuts down “unnecessary” functions in order to be able to run away from the stressor. There is a reason we don’t eat while on a run (mostly because it is incredibly hard to run with a plate of pasta flinging around), but also because our body is putting more energy into our legs and lungs. In my case, my body thinks it’s always in danger/stressed, and has turned off my stomach acid production which makes it extremely hard to digest food. Flight is the most common mode to be in when we are stressed because we try to run away from our problems-it isn’t just a figure of speech! Eating is supposed to be a happy time for humans, and giving yourself this pause to be thankful, signals to your body to stop fleeing in order to focus fully on your food and digestion. Mind-body connection is real! Being able to let the stress go away, and be thankful, allows for your body to focus on the right thing at the right time, and practicing mindfulness helps your body to get better at differentiating stress from rest. So do yourself a favor and be thankful before a meal, because in the end, you’ll also be thankful that you didn’t give yourself indigestion.

2. Out of sight, out of mind

Do you find yourself grabbing a piece of candy out of the bowl at the bank, doctors office, front desk, etc just because it is there? If you answered yes, now answer this. If there were no bowl, would you ask the bank teller, or receptionist if they had any candy in the back? I’m going to guess probably not because I’m positive you weren’t thinking about candy until you saw that bowl. The Proximity Effect in psychology easily applies to this, as it states that we like something better when it is close to us because it is convenient. Studies have shown that regardless of the food (in one particular study it was M&Ms and raisins), participants ate just as many of each when they were in close proximity, even if they didn’t like raisins. We take advantage of opportunities just because they are there, and free, despite the fact if they are good for us or not. Instant gratification at it’s finest. When snacks or food are out of sight, it usually leads to not thinking about them. The mindfulness part comes into play, because when they are out of sight, once it comes to mind, it means that you probably actually are hungry rather than mindlessly eating what is there. It allows you to honor what your body is telling you, rather than what your mind is telling you. Now back to the study I mentioned earlier. If the raisins weren’t sitting in a bowl in front of you, but rather, were in the pantry, not close in proximity, would you go get them just to eat them for no reason? Probably not..I mean come on, they’re raisins. Being aware about what is there in front of you, and if you’d eat it if it weren’t there, is a huge part of this practice. Keep your food in the pantry where it belongs. No reason for raisins!

3. Portion it out

Ok so let’s say you actually do want raisins. You go to the pantry and get out your five pound bag from Sam’s Club (or Costco, I don’t discriminate). Instead of bringing that bag with you back to the couch, portion out the serving size recommended, and then put the bag away. So many of us will take the container or bag with us and continue to devour the whole thing while we work on homework, talk to friends, or watch Netflix, just because we can, and aren’t thinking about how much we truly need. The serving size label might as well be in a different language. Another example is when we go to restaurants. Most of the time, we are given a larger portion than we need. So before you dig in and get lost in conversation, portion out how much your body needs, and put the rest in a to go box. Not portioning out food is so dangerous because we don’t realize how mindlessly we eat; and because we are listening to the TV, glued to our textbook, or talking with dinner mates, we aren’t listening to hunger cues. There’s nothing to stop you, and before you know it, you ate more than you wanted to, but more importantly, than your gut wanted you to. It is hard to be mindful when the giant bag of raisins is never ending, or steak fries are bottomless at Red Robin. Endless food has become some weird form of permission to keep going. Most of the time, we think that we need a large quantity of something for us to feel satisfied, but really, that isn’t true! It is ok to not finish food, or empty the container! Ultimately, it’s going to be waste either way if you know what I mean, so might as well save your body the troubles.

4. Cut out distractions

Raise your hand if you eat at least one of your meals while watching TV, looking at your phone, listening to music, or doing something else instead of 100% focusing on your plate. I’m picturing every single one of you raising your hand. This tacks on to my last point about portion control and not realizing how much we eat, because we are DISTRACTED. Imagine sitting at your kitchen table with that giant five pound bag of raisins with no distractions at all. Just you, that giant bag, and silence. I would find it surprising if you ate that whole bag of raisins because now, you are more aware of your actions, and consciously know that eating five pounds of raisins is hard to do if that’s your main focus. This mindfulness tip is probably the most important, because it truly allows you to be in tune with yourself, and listen to your body. Cutting out distractions allows for our decision making part of the brain to take over, rather than our primitive brain that wants us to ease feelings of discomfort regardless of what’s logical. This tip is probably the hardest since most of us can’t handle being by ourselves without our phone. Apply the golden rule of “treat others how you want to be treated” to your meal time. Give the full attention to your food that you’d want from your significant other or your spouse. Yes, it may feel so weird to sit in complete silence, no sports center, no Instagram, no HGTV..but I promise you, your food will start to taste better, last longer, and your food baby will be smaller than third trimester.

5. Eat slower

Our society has adopted the belief that everything is a competition, and that faster is better. I remember my friends and I challenging each other to see if we could swallow our Kraft mac and cheese without chewing. This completely goes against rest and digest. I’d love to ask the world record holding hot dog eater if they remembered SPECIFICALLY what their 15th hot dog tasted, and looked like. Odds are, they wouldn’t be able to because they can’t remember it, and never took the time to stop and look at it. I’d also like to ask them how their intestines felt after all that. Eating too much too fast creates an excess in dopamine (feel good neurotransmitter) making our brain eliminate dopamine receptors to accommodate for too much, creating tolerance, which requires more of the good thing in order to get past the new tolerance threshold and feel satisfied. It is a chain reaction. There is so much psychology to eating, and eating slower has proven to help so many things. First it helps you digest your food, and allows your brain to activate the correct amount of neurotransmitters and hormones. Second, it allows you to enjoy your eating experience longer, which makes us feel good! Why do we look at our food after we take a bite instead of just chomp it down? Because of the same reason I like to look at Channing Tatum: we like to look at things we enjoy. We all very easily could devour a taco in under a minute, but have you ever noticed that you simply don’t do that? Why? Because it isn’t as enjoyable as eating a taco at regular taco-eating speed. Ever heard the saying “less is more?” Well, it only works if you allow your taco to exist for more than five seconds. There’s a reason we have teeth, use them!

6. 20 minute rule

When we portion out food, most people will question how they know the quantity their body needs because serving size is not “one size fits all.” Because of this, our eyes usually are bigger than our stomachs. That is where this rule: allow yourself 20 minutes before going back for more food, comes into play. Many will eat more than we need because we are in a rush all the time, not allowing our body to process the amount of food we ate. Growing up, I was told that eating standing up was bad for you (I thought I would blow up or something), and now I finally understand why it is bad. My doctor explained to me that humans should take several hours for each meal to sit down, enjoy the food and company, and to rest so we digest. Standing usually means rushing, but as we all know, we don’t have hours to eat each meal every day. The 20 minute rule allows for the food to be processed, and for your brain to create Ghrelin or Leptin. Ghrelin is the hormone that tells you when you are hungry. Leptin is the one trying to tell you to stop eating the five pound bag of raisins while binge watching The Office. If you didn’t portion out enough the first time, Ghrelin will tell you to get more. But if you portioned out too much, Leptin will tell you to stop. A big part of being mindful, is listening to these two hormones, and 20 minutes is what we need in order to hear the “go” or “stop” regarding getting back in line at the Pizza Ranch buffet. Your body will tell you when you are hungry, you just have to give it time to decide!

7. Stop at satisfied

Being mindful while eating prevents having to unbutton your pants because you ate too much, and truly just feeling not good at all. Food is fuel, so think of your stomach as a gas tank. Your car only takes as much fuel as the tank needs to run smoothly, and it never takes more than it needs because it would spill over! Feeling satisfied means that you first need to figure out what satisfied hunger actually feels like to you, because a lot of us stop when we are full. Most people have a hard time with this one because while they know they should stop, and aren’t hungry anymore, their mind wants more because it tastes good, leading to overflowing the tank. Allow yourself to have enough to be satisfied, but not full. What this means, is to stop when your tank is at 80% (satisfied) about a 5, not 100% (stuffed), a 10. While having to refrain from eating the rest of the chocolate cake to stop at satisfied isn’t as fun, your gut will thank you. Once you are satisfied, use the 20 minute rule to evaluate if you truly have satisfied your hunger. There really is a lot of thinking and self talk when it comes to eating/being mindful. Stopping at satisfied also avoids the “gas” in the gas tank metaphor if you know what I mean.

8. Keep a food journal

For those trying to reach goals such as losing weight or eating healthier, this is a big one. Now, it might seem kind of stupid to write down what you are eating, and how you feel about it, but it can give you so many answers as to why what you are doing is/isn’t working. This is a great tool to find patterns such as food sensitivities, or weight loss/gain. The journal above was super helpful in seeing the correlation between my food sensitivities, and FND. Being interactive with your food, rather than just eating it, can tell you so much about why you feel sluggish when eating cheat meals on the weekends, or have so much energy when eating clean. It is visible proof as to how the brain and stomach are connected. Hangry is a legit thing! When you are crabby in your stomach, it triggers your Amygdala (controls feelings) to make the rest of you crabby. Amazon has a huge selection of journals that allow you to track what you ate, how it made you feel, and how you can improve the next day. Or, just simply find a template online and make your own. They make you think about food in a way you never have before. Food journals also keep you accountable depending on what your goal is. Have you ever thought about how grilled cheese makes you feel deep down? Here is your chance.

9. Ask questions

Asking questions while eating is the greatest tool to being in tune with yourself. Like I mentioned, mindful eating comes with a lot of self talk. Asking questions allows us to focus on our buddies Ghrelin and Leptin, and what our body is telling us. Sometimes we just get so distracted, or fall into a habit of being in the clean plate club, that we disregard a lot of important cues. It may sound silly, but ask yourself these things while eating. Am I full? If yes, stop eating. Does this sandwich taste good? No. Then why the heck are you eating it? Good question, I’ll stop. How does this chocolate make me feel? Terrible heart burn. Stop eating it! Do I want more tacos? Yes. Do I need more to feel satisfied? No. If I eat this cookie, will it satisfy me? No. So why eat it? Touche. Will this flaming hot Cheeto hold me over more than this apple? No. Ok, I’ll choose the better option. Will this cookie nourish my body more than this cucumber? No, but it will satisfy me more so I will eat it. Do I want to clean my plate? No, I’m full. So don’t! Is this ice cream worth the stomach ache later since I’m sensitive to dairy? Yes, but it’s worth it (as all lactose intolerant people claim to say). These questions are really just like a tennis match with yourself. So much back and forth conversation until a conclusion is reached. There are no right or wrong answers, but being able to have that dialogue with yourself is what mindfulness is. You are in control of your decisions once you become mindful of what you eat.

10. Be intuitive

The best example of eating intuitively, is newborn babies. They stop when they are full, eat when they are hungry, and don’t eat what doesn’t taste good to them aka spit it out all over their bibs. Eating intuitively means listening to what your body needs (mindful), but also, honoring your cravings. Because we were all newborns at some point in our lives, it means we ate intuitively, so why not do it again? We have lost touch with this because cravings, distractions, eating fast, and all the things I mentioned above have come into play. Going back to listening to our body’s needs and wants is the healthiest and most enjoyable way to live. Why is this so important? A lot of times, we will crave something not so healthy, but deny ourselves from it. This leads to it backfiring on us because we feel deprived, so instead of eating the one cookie we craved, our brain tells us to eat the whole box since it marked it as “scarce”, which then leads to feeling gross. Being mindful allows us to eat intuitively, allows us to honor our cravings, and allows us to be able to say no to what we truly don’t want. There is no social obligation to have to eat dessert if you truly don’t want it or like it, but food gets tied to social activities a lot of the time in our society. Choosing not to have dessert that your grandma made for after dinner doesn’t make you any less polite than if you did have it. Intuitive eating sounds so simple, but because we aren’t mindful, adhering to societal “rules”, or in tune with our bodies, it becomes impossible. Don’t try to control your diet, when your body is so good at telling you what it needs. You just have to learn to start listening!

Being mindful is not a trend, and it is not a chore. One of the main reasons mindfulness is so hard to do, is because most people don’t want to. They don’t see the long term benefits to their mind and body of eating without scrolling through their phones, chewing their food a few more times than normal, talking to themselves, waiting 20 minutes before eating another subpar pizza slice, writing down that they ate a pickle, refraining from eating five lbs of raisins, or keeping their food out of sight. Eating mindfully opens so many doors and reduces lots of unnecessary stress (rest and digest). It takes time to be able to do, but is so worth it when you finally have the freedom to eat without guilt, without discomfort, and are able to say no. Being in touch with yourself is such an advantage both physically and mentally! While trying out all ten of these at once may be a bit much, try to pick a couple and give them a go. There is so much research out there about how beneficial being mindful is whether that be in eating, breaking habits, or dealing with stress.

Have a great weekend, and be mindful of being mindful!

~Lauren

Staying motivated to work out: 10 things you should do

For this week’s #FitnessFriday post, I am going to answer one of the most common questions that receive. “How do you stay motivated to go to the gym everyday?” The answer I always give, is learn to love it. Obviously, this is a pretty broad answer, so I thought I would break it down into the ten things I have done over the years that have taught me to love working out. Staying motivated to work out has barely anything to do with physical ability, it really is all about creating a different mindset.


1. Make a killer playlist

This is honestly probably the most important thing for me that keeps me going to the gym everyday. You know those songs that you just can’t help but dance to? Those are the songs that belong on the playlist. Music can be so motivating whether that be what the lyrics say, or if the music is upbeat and easy to workout to. There are some songs on my playlist that have a really good beat to them, but I wouldn’t dare sing the lyrics because they are not clean AT ALL. I will make a new playlist the night before a workout, and I can’t wait to wake up the next day and test it out. Adding new songs to my playlist is equivalent to getting a new outfit and being excited to wear it the next day. Working out for me is more of a jam session than a workout, which makes working out fun for me! My playlist includes songs from all genres; ones that have a good beat to run to, stretch to, lift weights to etc. You need them all! When I’ve got a good song on, it definitely is a boost of confidence, and adds some pep to my step as I walk around the gym looking like a sweaty tomato. Lastly, the best thing about your playlist, is that it is yours, and no one else knows what is on it. You can do whatever the heck you want with it in order to keep you feeling good. Think about it, there very well could be a giant bodybuilder listening to Justin Bieber because that is what motivates them to do their best. There might be a 12 year old listening to Travis Scott when you probably assume they are the ones listening to Justin Bieber. Your playlist is your own little world.

2. Have a game plan

One of the biggest reasons people stay out of the gym is because they don’t know what the heck they’re doing, and don’t know what they want to do. The night before my workouts, I will come up with a plan for what I will be doing at the gym the next day, as well as a back up plan if I wake up and am not “feeling it.” It is important to have a plan that can be changed! Usually what this looks like for me, is choosing what form of cardio I want to do, and then pairing it with either an upper body, lower body, or full body workout, always followed by my ab circuit. Sometimes, I will even turn to Pinterest and find a circuit to do, then screenshot it so I make sure I do it the next day! With this being said, make a reasonable game plan. It can be so easy to overestimate what you want to do the next day, and this is why it is important to listen to what your body is telling you. There have been several times where I plan to do 30 minutes on the stair stepper, but when I wake up, I feel like I would rather drop a dumbbell on my face than do stairs. It is not fun to wake up super sore, and be so insistent on completing a giant workout. If anything, it is decreasing your motivation to work out. For you planners out there like me, think of this as a mini “to-do” list in your head that you can check off as you complete each task!

3. Make time for it

The number one excuse: “I don’t have time.” Maybe you legitimately don’t have the time for it… during the day. But what about mornings or nights? Yeah, you may not prefer it, but that time is fair game! There have been many times where my day is packed, leaving the only time for a workout to be at 6 AM. Most people look at me like I am crazy when I tell them I sacrifice sleep for a workout, but the motivation that makes me do it, is that I know I am getting one step closer to my goals. Think about it, what is the reason we go to the gym? To reach some sort of goal whether that be changing the way you look, trying to pick up a hottie with a body, or just to maintain your health. If there were no end goal, I wouldn’t be writing this post right now about how to keep going to the gym! The first step in going to the gym, is sitting down and looking at when you can. Add it to your schedule, and by this I don’t mean just make a mental note. WRITE IT DOWN in your planner or in your phone. Psychology says that when we write something down, we are more likely to follow through. Making time for the gym essentially means make time for your goals. Let your goals motivate you enough to drag you out of bed, or pick you up off the couch after work everyday.

4. Lay out your snazzy workout gear the night before

This may not seem like it would do much, but it is actually so important. First, get some cool new workout gear that you are excited to wear. Look good, feel good! I love to show off my new tank top, fun sports bra, bright colored shoes, and lulu gear at the gym. I definitely would not have as much motivation and confidence walking around the gym if I were wearing old gym shorts and a boring white tank top. One of my favorite things to get when I shop is new workout gear, just because I know I will use it a ton! Second, set them out the night before. It is a reminder once you wake up that you are planning to go to the gym. One time I had my clothes laid out, but didn’t work out that day because I didn’t feel like it. Having to pick up those clothes and put them away actually made me feel guilty, and since that moment, I have not missed a workout. It was like letting myself down as I put my shoes back in the closet. Another reason I set them out the night before is because having to choose what to wear right away in the morning is usually one of the last things I want to do. Get up and go!

5. Do what you like

Have you noticed that when you are doing something you like, you are usually better at it and more invested in it? This goes for working out. Now, some of you may be saying you don’t like working out in general, but that is probably because you haven’t found a part of working out that you like! Would you take a math class if you hated math, and there was a whole list of classes you actually liked right in front of you? Probably not. Would you order walleye if you hated seafood when there was all your favorites on the menu? I’m going to guess no. This is the same for working out. If you hate to run, don’t run! If you hate the chest press machine, don’t lay a finger on it! The gym literally has hundreds of other things you could do. Working out is supposed to be fun, so find what things you do like! For me, I love to do HIIT classes, run to my rockin’ playlist, but also, my old gymnastics circuits that make everyone stare at me because it looks like my shoulders are out of socket (that’s part of the fun). You don’t have to choose just one thing, or feel obligated to use every machine in the gym. If you like to run, run. If you like to elliptical and watch tv, do that. If you like to do 300 flights of stairs, all power to you (seriously, you’re going to need some). If you like to walk on treadmill and scroll through your Instagram like I do for my cool down, no one is stopping you! Do what is going to keep you coming back wanting more.

6. Bring a buddy

The nice thing about the gym, is that it is not just for working out. At Lifetime, there are the “regulars” meaning, the people that are there at the same time everyday as me. Because of this, I have made new friends that I work out with. The gym is actually how I met my Little in my sorority! We were always the only ones there at 6 AM running on treadmill, so it made it inevitable that we became buddies (only took me a solid year to slide into her DMs and say hi). Even having a friend there at the same time as me to bike next to or make weird faces at (usually Wyatt), even if we don’t talk at all, makes a workout more motivating. There is no rule about having to be 100% in the zone, by yourself, going hardcore, the whole time. It is amazing how much faster the time goes when I am talking to someone while doing stairs. Every day, I always join my mom on the elliptical just because it is a good way to catch up with her, but also because it is nice to have company while “ellipticalling” as I call it. The other reason why it is nice to workout with someone, is because it creates more accountability. It is a lot harder to tell your workout buddy that you aren’t going today because you are too tired, but by yourself, you can do that and get away with it a lot easier. It is also a lot harder to stop what you are doing and go home, if your buddy is still motivated to keep going. Invite someone that makes you excited to go! It is so nice to piggy back off each other’s motivation, or even complain together about how much your legs burn. On those days where you feel like everything hurts and you’re dying, at least you have someone to be in pain with 🙂

7. Go at your ideal time of the day

Working out has the same effects at any time of the day. There are some rumors out there that working out in the morning is more effective: that just ain’t true. Just like eating a cookie at a different time of day doesn’t change how carbs affect your body (yes some people believe it is different), it goes the same for your workouts. But what CAN change how effective your workout is, is if you aren’t going at the time that feels the best for you. There are two kinds of people: those who love an empty gym, and those who love a full gym. I definitely get a better workout when there are tons of people in the gym just because it is more social facilitation, but also because I am more engaged due to people watching. On the other hand, people like an empty gym because more equipment is available, or maybe because it is less intimidating. There is also the factor of morning and night! I am a morning person, so I have more energy to kill a workout in the morning than I do when I’m basically a sloth at night. It really depends on the person, but go when you have the most energy!

8. Reward system

I used this earlier on at the beginning of my fitness journey because I wasn’t a “regular” quite yet. There is nothing wrong with a little operant conditioning, meaning receiving something for doing a certain behavior (for those who have been following me from the beginning, you’ll remember this from my “10 Things that Prove I’m a Psych Nerd” post). I advise you not to make your reward food related, as that creates bad habits. For me, I rewarded myself with new workout clothes, putting a sticker on my calendar for the days I went to the gym, a relaxing bubble bath, one more Netflix episode…really anything that motivates you! Just like a stray cat will keep coming back if you feed it, you will keep going back to the gym if you feed that behavior in a positive way! Ultimately, your biggest reward will be seeing results and feeling a lot more confident.

9. Remember the runner’s high

Nowadays, the times where I don’t feel like working out, I think back to how I feel after I get done with a workout. There has not been one time I have regretted a workout (even when I dropped a weight on my foot, or tipped over during an overhead squat), but every time I do skip a workout, I regret it because I absolutely hate feeling lazy, and like I’ve left something unfinished. That feeling of regret, is what keeps me motivated on those days where my bed is calling my name after class. Runner’s high is a real thing because physical activity releases feel good endorphins, so I guarantee you, that you will feel great after a workout since it is the body’s natural reaction. Harness that feeling sometime, remember what it feels like, and pull it out of your back pocket when you are lacking the motivation.

10. Stick with it

They say it takes 21 days to make a habit. While I don’t know if that’s true (I’ve also heard 66), I guarantee you that if you stick with it, it will become easier. Once I started to make time for it everyday, and do all the things I have mentioned, going to the gym became the new normal for me. It now has gotten to the point where I actually feel weird if I don’t go everyday. It’s also gotten to the point where my friends will text me to ask me if I am ok if they don’t see me at the gym in the morning as they walk to class. It can be hard to trust or imagine that this will become a habit, but it really does! The days where motivation is running low, but you still go, are the days where you build that habit even more and become stronger. And after a while, you will start to achieve some of your goals; you will see results, you’ll maintain your health, or you will finally talk to that hottie with a body! Because I did all of this, it is now a habit that I have created, and a habit that I absolutely love.

To sum it up, if you want to make going to the gym a habit of yours, you have to love what you are doing, and I found ways to love every aspect of it. I hope this helps those who are on the bubble about joining a gym, are losing their love for it, or it continues to fuel your fire! It is so important to be comfortable with what you are doing, but if you want to reach new goals or start something new, it requires getting out of that comfort zone first in order to get comfortable with it.

Have a fabulous fitness Friday, folks!

~Lauren

What’s so super about superfoods?

There are so many diets out there these days; Paleo, Whole 30, Keto, Atkins, Intermittent Fasting, Liquid (terrible idea)…the list goes on and on and on. What I don’t understand, is why people go on these diets when they don’t have to, and why people believe that a diet is the epitome of living a healthy life. The goal of a diet is to ELIMINATE, and no one enjoys that. This is why I’d like to talk about ADDING superfoods to your daily diet. To set perspective, the reason diets “work” is because it creates a calorie deficit- THAT’S IT. There is no magic! But by adding superfoods, they have the same effect because they don’t take much to leave you feeling satisfied/not starved, and they have so many essentials that your body needs to function. The only difference is that you can still eat stuff you want (in moderation of course), and that it truly is healthy. In the long run, you will be healthier due to the benefits, and not feel deprived of all the goods leading to healthy habits rather than quick fixes. Through my FND journey, I have been put on many supplements, informed about what foods do what for my body and brain, and have learned why each mineral (zinc, magnesium, etc) is important, and how they serve my body. All of these superfoods have these minerals that I am taking in capsule form! Why take a bunch of supplements everyday, or settle for feeling less than great, when you can incorporate these superfoods into your recipes and feel super all the time?

“Superfoods are the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet.  We use superfoods to fill our snacks with nutrients your body needs like vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber.”

-Health Warrior

I recently became sponsored by Health Warrior Superfoods, which means I get the privilege to promote, give away samples, and be provided with their great products that I have been using for about a year now! Their products are all made out of superfoods, which make them a great option for everyone, and are a good place to start if you are wanting to give superfoods a try. In this post, I’m going to talk about what superfoods Health Warrior use, and why you should start to incorporate the lucky 13 into your diet.


1. Chia

Nope, not chia pets. Just like other healthy trend words like vegan, Kombucha, acai bowls etc; you may have heard chia, chia seeds, or chia pudding thrown around a bit. This isn’t just because it looks good on Instagram, or makes you sound like you are a health nut. Chia seeds are so good for you! They provide more Omega-3s than salmon, more protein than an egg, more calcium than milk, and more fiber than flax. Talk about hitting two birds (or four) with one stone! Chia seeds are a great option for those who are vegan, because they still provide enough nutrients to keep them going strong. A lot of people struggle with how to incorporate them into their diet because eating them straight out of the bag doesn’t work real well. Health Warrior’s most popular (and first) product is their chia bars that come in so many different flavors. I have tried every single one of them, and I love them all (definitely a toss up between chocolate chip cookie dough and coconut). They make for a great snack, on the go breakfast, pre workout, or even dessert. The bars may be small, but that is because these chia seeds seriously fill you up, it doesn’t take much. Once the seeds get into your stomach, they expand, which creates that satisfied feeling. If you are looking to try some of these bars, Health Warrior gives you the option to select up to six of their flavors to try as a part of their sample box! (Can also be found at Target). That is how I got hooked.

2. Turmeric

I have been taking turmeric supplements for my FND, but really, turmeric should be in everyone’s diet. This yellow-orange powder is famous for its anti-inflammatory properties, has been proven to combat chronic diseases, has preventative powers, but also stains everything it comes into contact with (dorm room dresser, floor, and many shirts in my experience). I have taken it in both liquid, and capsule form, but the fact that it is included in Health Warrior products already is a huge benefit for those who don’t take additional supplements or want to stain everything you care about. You may think that you don’t need turmeric because you aren’t inflamed at all, but I bet that you are wrong. Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there, and I bet you will feel so much better after adding this in your diet. I know I feel so much better after making my inflamed insides calm down.

3. Cinnamon

As good as cinnamon is for you, that doesn’t mean you can go to Cinnabon everyday (although I wish that is what it meant). Anything remotely healthy is often associated with tasting terrible, but this is here to prove that thought wrong! Cinnamon has been used in a medicinal sense around the world for hundreds of years because of its anti-inflammatory effects, and high antioxidant levels. Some common ways to add cinnamon to your diet are in teas, homemade granola, energy bites, and added to foods in small doses. My favorite is sprinkling it on my popcorn, it just intensifies my popcorn addiction. Some of you may remember videos of the “Cinnamon Challenge”….please don’t do that, as that has absolutely no benefits.

4. Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkins seeds aren’t just good at Halloween, they should be consumed at all times of the year! Why? They are the second most protein-dense plant seed on the planet, and they work to repair and build muscle (because that is what protein does). They are also so good for you because they are packed with magnesium, zinc, phosphorus and iron. To further explain, phosphorus is needed to filter out your kidneys, and to help you move your muscles…I guess that sounds important, right? Zinc on the other hand is needed for literally everything! I have noticed a huge difference in my energy levels, and even how I feel in general, by adding more zinc to my life. This is why pumpkin seeds are Health Warrior’s number one ingredient in their protein bars! I’ve seen a lot of posts on social media asking where vegetarians and vegans get their protein. THIS is where.

5. Oats

You may have heard this one before, but the more you hear something, the more it is validated. Do oats have a lot of protein? No. But what they do have is fiber. Oats are a superfood because it doesn’t take a lot of them to keep you full- that’s because they have all that fiber! Protein is so hyped up, but fiber is just as important because it is basically nutrition’s cleaning crew. (My dad can tell you that eating one too many Fiber One bars is a one way ticket to the nearest bathroom). It keeps you feeling full, gives you more energy due to the complex carbs, and also supports your immune system! For those who totally ignore oats because they don’t have much protein (just add protein powder or protein filled toppings), or “too many carbs,” fiber actually cancels out carbs. Say that a bowl of oatmeal is 20 carbs, but has six grams of fiber. Your bowl of oatmeal has 14 carbs, which is about the same as a bowl of fruit, and most don’t eliminate fruit because of “too many carbs” since fruit is considered healthy! So are oats!

6. Cacao Powder

You may be wondering why this one is on here, as it is mostly associated with being in desserts that are kind of the opposite of super. Cacao powder isn’t good just because it gives your brownies existence, it is loaded with antioxidants, magnesium, iron, and calcium. At this point, some of you may be wondering why the heck you need magnesium and iron anyways. Magnesium is important for maintaining bone health, relieves anxiety, and helps to aid in sleep. I am on a magnesium supplement powder that I take before bed, and wouldn’t be on it if it weren’t important! Iron is crucial for the blood, as it helps to make oxygen carrying red blood cells. I remember seeing cacao powder when I was little and when my mom wasn’t looking, I ate a big scoop of it out of the container, not realizing how bad of a move that was- bitter! That being said, there are a ton of healthy sweet treats out there such as protein energy bites, oat based cookies, and others that incorporate it in the recipe! Overall, I basically am telling you to eat more things that call for chocolatey goodness 🙂

7. Yellow Peas

Most of the time, people overlook peas because their backstory isn’t anything exciting like the fact that Cacao was considered a food of the Gods by the Incas. But also peas=gross to a lot of the population. Those who are vegetarian or vegan have a little bit more knowledge on the matter because pea protein is a very common source of protein in their world. Yellow peas also have vitamin K (helps anchor calcium in the bones). That’s right, these little buggers have protein, and aren’t only on your plate to annoy you. Most things that you read that say “plant based protein” mean that it is this pea protein. Health Warrior uses this kind of protein in their protein powder, as well as the protein mug muffins. I’ve been so thankful for this protein source because of all of my allergy restrictions in the past, and even though it is made from peas, that doesn’t mean it is a less effective source. So, as your parents would say, eat your peas!

8. Wildflower Honey

Hey honey! Honey is on this list because it is a great source of antioxidants, and is a immune system booster. I’ve said antioxidants a lot, for those who aren’t antioxidant experts, they are good for your heart, and prevent infections, and some forms of cancer. That isn’t the only reason honey is on this list though. Because of its natural sweetness, it can be used instead of sugar to add a little sweet to your desserts, or tea. One of the most useful things you can do for yourself is try to find healthier alternatives to ingredients used in your dishes. Honey is very versatile, and can be used in so many things, which is why it is in all of Health Warrior’s products, making their products very low in sugar, but still give them their sweet. Do you typically find that you feel better/have more energy when you eat healthier? It isn’t a coincidence. Food is fuel!

9. Dark Chocolate

Yes, chocolate is on this list. No, dark chocolate Milky Ways don’t count. Dark chocolate is made from the seeds of the cacao tree (superfood!) Normal diets will tell you that all chocolate is off limits, but I am here to tell you that you should be adding dark chocolate to your diet (in moderation of course). Did you know that chocolate has a good amount of insoluble fiber? It will leave you feeling satisfied. How about antioxidants? But wait! There is more. Dark chocolate contains more iron, magnesium, copper manganese, potassium, phosphorus and zinc, than any of the other superfood! It is actually recommended to finish your day with a small square of at least 75% cacao dark chocolate because of the magnesium it contains to help you sleep, and calm you down. Chocolate is good for the soul, but also your body.

10. Cherries

This may be the only thing on the list that you can just straight up eat. (I guess you could eat cacao powder like I did, all power to you). I was first surprised to see this one on the list, but then I made the correlation to why my mom had me drink cherry juice after gymnastics practices. Cherries are amazing anti-inflammatories because of all the Vitamin E they contain. Did you know that fruits with red skin contain more antioxidants? Well you do now! Red fruits contain more flavonoids, which contain antioxidants like lycopene, which reduces heart disease, and infections. If I don’t say so myself, cherries are pretty red, hence all the antioxidants. This also goes for apples with red skin, and grapes (the purple grapes are actually red for those who didn’t know that yet). A (red) apple a day keeps the doctor away is real, people! In addition to all the Vitamin E, they also contain melatonin, which is a natural sleep aid. This is also why cherries are on the list for before bedtime snacks. Better sleep leads to better body regeneration so you are ready to eat more superfoods the next day 🙂

11. Almonds

I learned this Thanksgiving that apparently there is more than one way to say almond, and it’s based on where you live. So all you Northern California/Montana/North Dakota/South Dakota folks out there, and my cousin Sam; it is al-mond, not am-end! Whether you say it the right or wrong way, they still have the same great health benefits. As I mentioned before, all great foods must be consumed in moderation, and while they pack so many nutrients into a small quantity, they also pack many calories into a small quantity. This is no reason to avoid them, because you need them! One serving may not seem like a lot (usually 24 nuts), and may be hard to believe that they will fill you up, but because of all they contain, they really do serve as a satiating snack. Almonds are a powerhouse in the nut family because of the healthy monounsaturated fats, fiber, protein, Vitamin E, and antioxidants. Aka, almonds help to fight aging, aid in heart health, satisfy hunger, and help to control blood sugar.

12. Coconut

I have learned that people either like coconut, or they don’t. There is no in between. For those who would rather eat a bar of soap than some coconut because they kind of taste the same, just hear me out and I may change your mind. Coconut is versatile, and all the benefits are received in whatever way you consume it (coconut water, dried coconut, at Chino Latino, raw coconut,..not sure if Almond Joys count). Like I mentioned before, one of my favorite products from Health Warrior is the Coconut Chia Bar. This is because it tastes good, but also because it energizes me before a workout due to all that coconut does for you. Here is why they are so good; they have a high amount of ascorbic acid (good for developing connective tissue), B vitamins, and proteins. I’m currently on a B vitamin supplement to help give me more energy during the day, and would gladly incorporate more coconut into my diet if it meant not having to swallow that horse pill. It also is a good source of natural energy because of the high amount of electrolytes, and hydrating properties! Maybe we should all be carrying coconuts around the gym instead of Gatorade.

13. Quinoa

You didn’t think I was going to leave out the hardest to pronounce, but most common/ trendy/ “basic white girl” superfood did you? You’ve seen it on Instagram, all the trendy restaurants, mod cookbooks, and in stores..but what actually is quinoa (keen-wah), and why is it worshipped by health gurus? This “grain” is not actually a grain. What we are eating, is the seed of the plant. It may have seemed to become popular just recently, but this crop has been cultivated by ancient Americans for hundreds of years. The reason it is so good is because compared to other grains, this “grain” has a higher amount of protein, antioxidants, and essential minerals. This is why quinoa is becoming more of a common substitute for rice in meals. Don’t let the reason that you can’t say the word at a restaurant be the reason you are missing out on these benefits! KEEN-WAH.

Use the code NEWYEAR20 to get 20% off your first order! Just a few of my favorites here.

Hopefully by reading this, you have learned several things. The first, is what superfoods actually are, and why you should consume them. Second, why vitamins and minerals such as phosphorus, Vitamin B, Vitamin K, antioxidants, zinc, iron, magnesium, calcium, fiber, fats, and protein are important for your body. We hear those words so much, but did you really know what they did for you? Third, I hope you learned about a new brand that you can try out, and while I am in no way cut out to be a salesperson, I wouldn’t promote something that I didn’t believe in! Lastly, I hope by now you know that I truly am a credible source when it comes to nutrition, and what is good for you! I’m not just a 20 year old college student telling you to eat your veggies. With all my FND experiences, allergies, and my own health journey, I have learned so much about what does what for what. As confusing as that sounds, it can be! I can tell you what foods are good/bad for what parts of your body such as that dairy is a natural inflammatory of the brain. I can tell you why you need to eat fats to lose fat. I can tell you what vitamins and foods help certain neurotransmitters, and other brain functions. I can tell you what apple has the most nutrients (Pink Lady), and lots of other weird but helpful food facts. Doing research helps, but living and experiencing it yourself teaches you so much more!

You are what you eat, so be super!

~Lauren

10 Most Embarrassing Moments

A while back, I shared my Terrible Tuesday experience of the custodian walking in on me in the shower right as the whole shower rod fell off the wall. I won’t go into any more detail about that, I still don’t like to think about it! I thought I’d go ahead and share the rest of my embarrassing stories because reading about people’s lowest moments in life is pretty entertaining, don’t deny it. Enjoy!


1. “Cooking”

This one took place in Kindergarten. I debated even putting this one in here because I can’t even think about it without cringing, and I don’t want my former classmates to find the evidence. I can’t remember the exact situation that led me to this embarrassment that still haunts me to this day because it is published in a cookbook. What I suspect happened, was that we were assigned to get a recipe from home, and bring it to school in order to put in a class cookbook. I’m assuming I forgot to do the assignment. My other theory is that I didn’t understand what a recipe was, or what made from scratch meant. By now, you all should know just how bad I am at cooking by how many times I have mentioned it…well this is where it all started. The day the assignment was due, we were individually pulled aside to tell our teacher our recipe. Kindergarten Lauren didn’t have anything in mind, and didn’t even know how to make the simplest things such as the recipe for cookies. I am not one that is able to think logically when I panic, and I tend to come up with the weirdest on the spot responses, even to this day. This was one of those situations. When my teacher asked what my recipe was, I searched my memory stores for any recipe I knew how to make, and came back with nothing, so I told her the first thing that came to my mind. A Pop-Tart. At first, she looked impressed because I think she thought I was going to tell her how to make one from scratch. We were told to explain the recipe step by step. So I did. 1.) Take the Pop-Tart out of the box. 2.) Take it out of the wrapper. 3.) Put it in the toaster, or don’t. 4.) Once it’s done, put it on a plate. 5.) Go watch TV and eat the Pop-Tart, edges first. Our recipes then had to have illustrations that accompanied it, so I drew a picture of me sitting in front of the TV eating a Pop-Tart, as well as a giant Spongebob edition Pop-Tart on a plate. My recipe is now published in this cookbook along with other recipes such as pan fried fish, a cake, cookies, pancakes etc. that was sent home to everyone in class, making it impossible for me to get rid of all the evidence that I actually did this.

2. Cafeteria crash

I feel like it is a rite of passage to dump food in the caf during your college years at least once, but that doesn’t make it any less embarrassing. I remember my first, and hopefully last, time doing this like the back of my hand. It was the very last day of classes of spring semester my freshman year at Gustavus. It was mandarin orange Friday in the caf, so I helped myself to a nice big bowl of them to add to my pile of spinach. I swear, Gustavus picked out the bowls that make the loudest sound when they hit the ground just to draw more attention to the person who screwed up. Louder than dropping the shampoo bottle in the shower. Those things show absolutely no mercy. I was all ready to go with my rabbit food, and went over to the silverware counter, forgetting that I set my bowl of mandarins right beside me. My elbow knocked the bowl and sent it flying, and when it hit the ground, the bowl hit just right so it kept bouncing in the puddle of oranges. With every bounce, my face turned a darker shade of red. The loud sound was basically a signal to everyone in the caf to turn around and see what person royally embarrassed themselves this time. I got a nice round of applause after that. To make things even better, the person walking behind me didn’t see the traces of the fruit puddle on the ground, and totally wiped out, dumping their tray all over the place. (Shoutout to them, the attention was now shifted from me to them). I now no longer participate in mandarin orange Friday.

3. Flipping failure

Ah yes, the high school days of trying to impress your current crush at the time. I remember some girls trying to impress their crush by acting all cute, sending notes, following them down the halls, and posting an Instagram picture and hoping they like it, but me? That’s not how I did it. I have always liked to try to impress people with my athletic abilities whether that be gymnastics, basketball, mile time, pull ups, etc. At the time, my crush was in my Individual Fitness class, our gym credit. I would always go run with the guys to be with him, usually being the only girl that could keep up with the guys. Things were going well that day, it was the first day I was not really shy around him. We never really talked to each other, we were both very shy. I asked him if he wanted to see a cool trick, and he said yes. I’ll let you in on a secret; I was never taught how to do a backflip back in my gymnastics days. You’d think a gymnast could do one any time, but that is just something I was never able to do. Apparently that day, I thought things would be different. I got all set up, went over the cues in my head; load, set, tuck. That is not what happened. I loaded, but I think I forgot the set part, as I did the slowest back tuck in history, leading me to landing square on my face. Most people would joke about something like that, and now I would be able to shake it off and make fun of myself, but at the time, both of us were too shy to say anything after that. This left us with me lying on the ground face down too scared to look and see the expression on his face, and him standing there unsure what to do but hold back a laugh. I laid there for a good while before I pulled myself up off the ground with an injured dignity and pride, then booked it inside. I avoided him for a good two weeks after that. To a high schooler, nothing is more embarrassing than doing something wrong in front of your crush.

4. Not so restful rest stop

In my recent Holiday Traditions post, I mentioned “the drive” to Kentucky that we do every year. Usually these drives are pretty uneventful; flat roads, several stops, Redbox movies, lots of sitting etc. That’s about as exciting as it got. This particular year, it was different because we decided to rent a van instead of take our own car. The Casey clan was sporting a black mini van with a bright yellow license plate from New Mexico. I was not used to riding in this van, which led to this unfortunate incident. It was at our favorite rest stop in Wisconsin, I had just come outside and was going to get back into the van. I got to the black van and pulled on the handle for the door to open. The door was starting to slowly automatically open, revealing who was inside. It was not my family. I stood there staring at a whole different family, and them staring back at me. It took me a few seconds to understand what was happening, until I heard a bunch of laughing. I looked to see where the laughing was coming from, and it was from another black van a couple spots down, containing my actual family. I turned my attention back to the people that were still staring at me standing there, and then I bolted for the correct black van. I got in and pressed the button for the door to close, wishing that those automatic doors could close faster, because the family was still staring at me.

5. Moment of un-silence

If there is one thing I can’t handle, it is an awkward silence. As bad as it sounds, I can’t stand being in church when we take moments of silence, because a memory of a funny video (usually the flying lawn mower video) immediately comes to mind, or I imagine a funny scenario such as the pastor tripping up the stairs. I also can’t help but laugh when people eat something crunchy when it is dead silent (my professor was eating carrots during a test one time and I was about to lose it). At the same time, having a giant group of people stare at me is one of my worst nightmares, and I would hate to be the person that laughs during a moment of silence, or has their phone go off in a movie theater, which is why I have managed to keep my laughter in all these years. At Gustavus, we have a Vespers student led church service that happen occasionally throughout the year. This again happened my freshman year, and was the first Vespers service of the year. All was well, until they announced that we would take a moment of silence for loved ones who had passed away, or to take a moment to reflect and let go of your struggles. No, I did not laugh, as that would make me feel like a horrible person. Instead, I started to choke on my spit because it went down the wrong way. It is incredibly hard to suppress a cough when you are choking, and I tried the best I could. My efforts caused my face to turn tomato red, but I finally couldn’t hold it in anymore. I started choking and everyone turned around to stare at me, making me an even darker shade of red. One of my worst nightmares came true. The icing on the cake was having to go in front of everyone again for communion, still as red as a firetruck.

6. We got a runner

Many years ago, my Grandma Pat had my family dog sit her puppy, Maggie. Grandma, if you are reading this, which I know you are because you always read my blogs (thank you), you have never heard this story. I was in elementary school at the time. Maggie is a Bichon/poodle, and my dog’s half sister. At the time, Maggie was still a puppy. She loved to run, get the toilet paper out of the bathroom and run around the house with it until the roll was out, but most importantly, be chased. This day, we took Maggie to Christopher’s baseball game, and I was so excited because I finally had something to entertain me. My mom let me take Maggie on a walk around the complex, but she gave me one rule: don’t let Maggie off her leash. Spoiler alert: I let Maggie off the leash. This led to Maggie taking ME on a run, instead of me taking her on a walk. Have you ever been to a baseball game when a fan jumps the wall and runs across the field? That is essentially what happened. Maggie ran and ran all over the open soccer fields, took me through the park, and lastly, my brother’s game. When I saw her heading for the field that my brother’s game was on, my heart dropped. I couldn’t let Maggie run away, my grandma would be so mad if she came back and I told her lost her, so I followed Maggie out into the outfield. I got incredibly lucky, as the game was in a current time out due to a flock of pigeons that were sitting in the infield, but still, it was terribly embarrassing to be “that person”, and I wasn’t even a drunk fan like most are! You bet I never took Maggie off leash again.

7. Staircase serenade

This one doesn’t sound terrible, it is more of a personal thing. Elementary school choir concerts, absolutely hated them. The things we had to do for that were so weird now that I think about it such as when I participated in a dance about a goat named Yesh (still remember the song). As embarrassing as that sounds in itself, it gets worse (at least in my mind). Let me remind you once again that I am an introvert, and don’t like attention being brought on myself. One day after school in fifth grade, I thought I was totally home alone, so I thought I would practice one of the songs that I was struggling to remember the lyrics to. I pretended I was a famous singer and cascaded dramatically down the stairs, singing as loudly as I could about snowflakes. I finished the last chorus, doing my best dance moves and thought I sounded amazing, only to realize that once I cascaded down to the bottom of the stairs, my family was there the whole time. Now, this might not sound like an embarrassing moment, but to my family, something like this was totally out of character for me. In my family, I have never really been one to show much emotion, sing, dance, etc. I keep to myself. They kept telling me how great it was and that I should keep going (but my brother was trying to keep from laughing). I was absolutely mortified, and hid in my room the rest of the day.

8. Talent show regrets

Speaking of out of character for me, talent shows fall under this category. My friend Morgan and I thought we had the greatest idea in fourth grade of making up a dance and performing at the talent show. My first initial thought was absolutely not, but she told me I could do some gymnastics during the dance, and I was sold. We made up a dance to Carrie Underwood’s “All American Girl”, and I will let you know, this dance did not require any talent. We would practice everyday after school on her trampoline. The matching outfits were a must back then, mine pink and hers blue. The day of the talent show, I was absolutely terrified. When it came to be our turn, we got everything set up, and started out real strong until it got to the gymnastics part. We got to the part of the synchronized handstands, and I remember seeing Morgan tip over mid handstand. Being a person who doesn’t know what to do when things go unexpectedly, the dance was totally thrown off, as we could not recover from the handstand detour. The best part of the dance for me, was when it was finally over. I still can’t listen to that song without this experience playing in my head. Best part? My mom filmed the whole thing.

9. Crotched beams, crushed dreams

This one isn’t an exact moment, because it has happened more than once. For those who don’t know what crotching the beam means, it is when your feet are supposed to land on the beam, but instead your feet straddle the beam and your crotch lands full force on it instead ( this is the reason guys don’t do beam). While this isn’t an uncommon thing to do in the gymnastics world, I can’t help but be embarrassed when it does, especially during a meet. I get embarrassed about this because it is in front of all the fans, the opposing teams, but most importantly, the judges. The first thing I want to do when it happens, is grab a microphone and announce to everyone that I promise I can execute the skill, and that I’m a better gymnast than what they just saw (it’s a pride thing). Of course, I’d get deducted so badly for doing that. Crotching the beam is also embarrassing because after I do it, it is incredibly hard to act natural and not want to start crying. I’ve done some weird things to try to “walk it off” such as walking like I just rode across the country on a horse, smiling and saying “it’s all good” while tears are welling up with a twisted smile, little hops around the mat, walking in circles while doing some heavy breathing, lots of rubbing in an awkward place, and my personal favorite; getting immediately up on the beam again, then realizing I shouldn’t have, as I proceed to do my routine, only to crotch the beam again. These attempts to look natural and that I’m not phased at all instead make me look the farthest from natural. It also doesn’t help that the whole arena goes “oohhhh” whenever someone crotches the beam.

10. Speech spooks

Public speaking was not my friend back in high school. We had our last speech of the year in ninth grade, and it was about highlights of the year. Usually when I had to give a speech, I would write a manuscript, and memorize it word for word. This time I figured I wouldn’t because it was a casual speech, and seemed easy to talk about. I should have known that I wouldn’t be able to speak casually and normally in front of 60 people. To prepare for this speech, I memorized a brief outline of speaking points, practiced a couple times, and felt that I would be just fine. Out of all my embarrassing experiences, this one has to be the worst. I learned a couple things from this speech. First, I shouldn’t have assumed that I could speak freely about something under pressure. Second, Victoria’s Secret leggings show sweat in a certain rear end area, so don’t wear those when nervous. Third, when in doubt, flip it out. I was so nervous before I had to go up there, I was getting hot thinking about everyone staring at me. I got up to the podium, and recited the introduction that I memorized. To my surprise, no one was looking at my face, but rather, kind of lower (I will let you connect the dots here, I’d rather not say what they were looking at). Once I got done with my introduction, I completely blanked. I didn’t remember any of the points I memorized. Any person could probably talk about highlights of the year easily, but me being someone who can’t logically think under pressure and when my plan goes astray, I was a deer in the headlights. Because of this, I did the only thing I knew how to do. Gymnastics. I stepped away from the podium into the open space (people still looking at my butt), and threw three back handsprings in a row down the aisle of desks. After that, everyone started clapping and told me how cool it was, making them forget about the catastrophe that just happened right before their eyes. Since then, I now memorize all my speeches again.

Well, there you have it. I know that in the future, I probably will have more moments that make me want to go crawl inside a hole. As much as I hated having to experience all these moments, they are totally worth it because they make for great stories (once several years have passed), and help me to learn to laugh at myself. You know what they say, you learn from your mistakes, and because of this, I will not be in a talent show anytime soon, will be cautious in the cafeteria, will make sure I can speak in a speech, know which car is mine, make sure the coast is clear when I put on a performance, accept that I can’t do a backflip, not take the dog off the leash, and know that putting a Pop Tart on a plate doesn’t count as cooking even if that’s the best of my abilities.

I’d love to hear some of your embarrassing stories! Shoot me an email or leave a message in the comments. Have a great week, and I hope your resolutions are going well!

~Lauren

New Year, Better Me: Ten resolutions

Happy 2019! Wow it feels weird saying that, I could have sworn I was just saying happy 2008. It’s that time of the year again where everyone vows they will start something new, improve an aspect of their life, or achieve a goal. In the past, I never paid attention to resolutions because I never really wanted to change anything. I always would say I want this new year to be better than the last, but I never acted on anything to make that happen. Now that I am older, and have been setting more goals than in the past, I can add myself to the list of those who say “new year, new me.” But in all honesty, I am not trying to make a new me. I like myself! The more accurate phrase would be “new year, better me.”  With that, these are the ten tasks I’d like to tackle to make my 2019 the best year yet.


1. Floss more

No, not the dance move. This resolution may seem a bit anti-climactic as I am sure you were expecting something big, but answer this question honestly: do you floss everyday? I’m going to go ahead and guess a confident no. I am guilty of being too lazy to floss everyday solely because it takes effort to weave the stupid string under my two permanent retainers, but this is something that I want to fix. I learned from an aspiring dentist friend that not flossing causes more build up in the arteries, and could lead to a heart attack. So yes, not running a piece of string between your teeth can kill you. In my mind, it seems like such an easy fix, but it is just one of those things that I easily skip, and justify skipping because it “saves me time.” My goal for 2019, is to floss everyday so I can go to the dentist and not have bleeding gums every time they floss, revealing that I don’t floss a much as I should. In order to achieve this goal, I have strongly considered going back to the Dino Flossers, because I might as well make it more fun if I’m going to follow through with this!

2. Spend less

Lately, it seems like I have had the mindset that money grows on trees. Online shopping is more dangerous than you know, especially when it comes to Poshmark, and having Apple Pay installed so I don’t have to enter in my card info anymore and just use my touch ID. I have mentioned how thankful I am for Poshmark in a past post because I can get really expensive things for a great price, but that doesn’t mean that just because it is a good price, I should buy it.  It’s like telling myself that calories don’t count if I’m stealing food off someone’s plate. I am still spending money even if things are on sale, and apparently, that notion has not sunk in yet. Buying things on sale may save money, but if that happens frequently, it really adds up fast! So for my bank account’s sake, this is a mindset that I am going to be more conscious about. As much as I hate seeing a good sale on Lulu leggings pass me by, it will help me in the long run, and as psychology says, instant gratification is not always the answer. 

3. Worry less

A couple posts back, I wrote about pieces of advice I live by, and one of those being “don’t worry about the things you can’t control.” Well, I still have not figured out a way to practice that advice. As a type A, perfectionistic person, worrying really should be my middle name instead of Michelle. Think of a random word in your mind right now. Whatever word you are thinking of, I have probably worried about it at some point in my life, or something related to it. My worrying has gone to great lengths, and has made me do some pretty weird things in order to resolve it such as waking up to myself reciting psychology terms in my sleep. (Some people sleep walk and talk, I sleep study). Sometimes, I ironically worry about how worried I get over things. Don’t get me wrong, a little bit of worrying is healthy, and productive, but usually that isn’t the case for me. I worry to the point where I cannot stress about something more, it is at the maximum level of stressing. I worry about things in the future (as in ten+ years out), I worry about next month, next week, the next hour, and I even worry about things that have already happened. Yes, that is totally illogical, I know, but that is just how I roll. So this year, I hope to make myself stop rolling like that, or at least reduce it to the point where I don’t still worry about the wrong form of “your” I used in the final paper I wrote in 8th grade stress management class. 

4. More time with friends

If I spent as much time with my friends as I do with my textbooks, this one would not be a resolution for me. I love being busy with all the organizations I’m involved in on campus, but sometimes I will go a whole week without seeing my friends despite the fact they live literally a floor above me. My social life shouldn’t have to be a mandatory scheduled sisterhood event event that is programmed in my Google calendar. College is about having those experiences that aren’t planned; such as 2 AM pancake runs to Perkins, hitching a ride with a friend to Mankato for Starbucks, unplanned girls nights, pole dancing exercise class, yoga with goats, and following Nemo the campus cat around instead of doing homework. This is not to say that I haven’t done things like this before (this stuff is too specific to make up), I just don’t do “unplanned” enough. I love all my friends, and am fortunate that they are so close, which is why I want to spend all the time I can with them before they go back to West Virginia, Arizona, off to med school, and even before I graduate. But this won’t happen without my next resolution.

5. Be more flexible

To my gymnasts out there, I do not mean this in the sense that I need to stretch more, because I still have all three of my splits down! If I were as flexible as my body is, this would not be a resolution. Unfortunately, my brain is not as flexible as my hamstrings. I don’t think I need to explain that I like things to be planned out based on my mentions of perfectionism, but it really can be counterproductive at times. As much as I’d like to just “go with the flow,” I can’t do that unless I know where the “flow” is going, how fast, where all the bends and curves are, and approximately how much time it takes to get there. I’ve had times where things have not gone according to my plan, and I haven’t been able to adapt. People always tell me they wish they were as organized, and obedient to a plan as me, but they don’t realize how that plan crumbles if it isn’t followed to a T. I want to be more flexible in the sense where I don’t have my whole day planned out hour by hour, and can change things up like going out for coffee with friends without thinking that I will fail a test if I don’t start studying that day because that’s what I planned. This quirk can definitely be attributed to gymnastics. I find it ironic that the sport that made me flexible (literally), is the reason that I am the farthest from flexible (figuratively). Having to manage my time so strictly for 16 years really trained my brain as much as my body. They say it takes 21 days to break a habit, but I don’t know if that takes into account something that has been done for years and years. I’ll give it my best shot.

6. Appreciate myself more

We are all our worst critics. And even though I am aware of this concept, I still am as hard on myself as Gordon Ramsay is on the people who ask him to rate their meals on Twitter (it’s not pretty). Living in a social media filled society where being fit, eating right all the time, and basically living the cookie cutter lifestyle where nothing goes wrong, I sometimes lose sight into all that I have achieved and all that I am. As a psych major, I am fully aware of the social comparison theory and how harmful it is, yet I still practice it as most do. Just the other day, I killed a workout and felt great. About a minute later, I looked on Instagram and saw someone else’s workout paired with their washboard abs. I told myself their workout was way more effective and intense than mine, and she looked better than I did, making me forget about all that my body just did for me, and left me feeling like I wasn’t enough. It is so easy to focus on the negatives about yourself, and all that you’re not, and I definitely fall victim to this. People are very good at playing the “I spy” game in the mirror, but life is so much more than about looks. It is hard to believe that when that’s not what the majority think, which is why I haven’t been able to adopt that thought yet. We hear it over and over again, “your worth is not defined by a number” whether that be how many reps you can do, jeans size, or on the scale, but how many people actually believe that? This year, I want to stop hearing, and start believing. God has given me one body that has allowed me to do my favorite sports, sit through great psychology lectures, spend time with my friends, and much more; it’s time I start to appreciate it!

7. Eliminate my “all or nothing” mindset

Writing this, I can’t help but laugh at myself because the way my mind works is low key ridiculous, and I am fully aware it is. All or nothing, go big or go home, black or white, on or off, just cheese or all the toppings, walk or sprint; that is my brain. I only have two settings, there is no in between. This can be very frustrating when there needs to be an in between, but there literally is not. It is very similar to the feeling of when you reach to open a door that you need to get into, but the door knob is gone. My all or nothing mindset applies to everything I do. If I don’t have the time to do my usual workout, but can at least get a 30 minute workout in, my brain tells me that I just shouldn’t go at all. If I am trying to eat healthy, but I don’t follow my original plan and eat something I didn’t intend on eating such as one cookie, I turn it into a full on cheat day. If I have a paper to write, I will write it all in one sitting, otherwise I won’t write it at all. When I run, I will only walk, or run a 5k. In these situations, I fully understand that the logical thing to do is workout for 30 minutes because it’s still better than nothing, eat the cookie and move on with my life because that’s less damage than a whole cheat meal, write half the paper rather than all of it, and maybe just run a solid two miles. That’s simply not how I am wired. I go big or go home in all aspects of my life, which is why it has often led me to taking on more than I can handle, or leaving my bored out of my mind. On the other hand, the all or nothing mindset has been helpful for me when I have needed to put in my full effort such as gymnastics meets, relationships, and studying for finals; but that is about it! This year, I want to be able to have the option for kinda, go sub par and halfway home, gray, dim the lights, jog, or two toppings max. 

8. Take better care of myself

It is always my goal to excel in all aspects of my life being; academics, fitness, my faith, being a good daughter, and friend (all or nothing!) In my mind, I imagine bar graphs for each of these things, and each one must reach 100% otherwise I feel like I’m slacking. Oddly enough, there is one aspect that I seem to forget about, which is taking care of myself. “Balance” is not a word in my vocabulary unless it means succeed at everything you do. There have been many times when I should have taken care of myself, but instead tried to put everything and everyone else first. Going to class sick as a dog because I wanted those five dinky participation points, competing with two swollen sprained ankles because I didn’t want to let my team down (or my pride), driving long distances just to make a friend feel better, going to the gym when my body was screaming it didn’t want to go like a toddler at McDonald’s play land, staying up to study when I shouldn’t have, and insisting on going to school while on very strong anti convulsants because I didn’t want to fall behind, are just a few examples. I know what’s best for me, and what I should do, but I never choose to because choosing myself feels selfish in my mind. Because of all these situations, it can be hard to be a functioning human being, and it definitely takes a toll on my mood, energy, FND, and wellbeing. For the last couple months, I’ve noticed that I have felt a little “off” and couldn’t figure out why. It has now become clear to me (because someone pointed it out) that I have been running on empty, and parallel a car trying to drive across the country with an empty gas tank. At this point, I am outside of the car and pushing it from behind because there is not one drop of gas left. Going into this new year, I want to have more balance, and be ok with not having to reach 100% in everything I do because that is absolutely exhausting.  It requires some give and take, realizing it is ok to not do it all, and not spreading myself too thin. I also want to put more effort and energy into fighting my FND by actually doing my mental exercises everyday, and really trying hard to manage it like I should be, because that is just as important as being a student, athlete, child of God, daughter, and friend. I can’t be any of those things if I don’t take care of myself first.

9. Follow through

Reading this one, you may be thinking of following through with things such as commitments, promises, and deep stuff like that. But honestly, it isn’t like that for me at all. I just want to follow through with little things such as starting and finishing a book, finishing a Netflix show, a movie, a new piece I’m writing, keeping up with my vision board, saying I’ll do my laundry every Thursday, and even following through with these resolutions I made. I don’t know if it is just me who experiences this, but I will have so much motivation to do something, but when I actually have time to do it, it is the last thing I want to do. I have been reading the same book for two years, and by read, I mean pick it up once a day, then put it back down because I want to watch the Netflix show that I ultimately will not finish. This notion of never taking initiative to start (or finish) something I want to try basically makes my Pinterest pointless, and I’ve got so many cool and Instagram worthy things to try!  So this year, I am finally going to finish that book, Netflix series, blog post in my drafts, learn to cook in order to post my Pinterest fail pictures, but I can’t make any promises about the laundry. 

10. Let go of the past

Here is the “deep” one you all have been waiting for, and I am going to be fully open and honest because it is something that needs to change. I haven’t been shy in sharing the adversity I have faced these last couple years regarding my health issues and injuries in college. I also haven’t been shy in sharing how I see it as a blessing in disguise, and how it has shaped me into who I am. What I have been shy in sharing, is that I still hold onto the negative memories, and how the fear of it all happening again prohibits me from making certain decisions, or having a more positive mindset. It is only human (as the evolutionary theory in psychology explains) to have those negative experiences in the back of your mind in order to be more cautious going forward so you don’t die. For the record, the evolutionary theory is a bit more extreme and based on survival, not just everyday living. I don’t think my brain quite realizes that distinction yet, as I get nervous about things I shouldn’t have to anymore. This is ultimately why my schedule is so rigid, because in the past if I didn’t follow a rigid schedule such as exercising only in the morning, not sitting for too long, getting to sleep before 11, and not eating past 8 PM, my FND would give me trouble. I am all about being fearless, and testing the waters, but when it comes to my FND and all I have been through, I will not even dip a toe in the water to see if I’m capable of more than I was back then. I’m still stuck in this rigid schedule because of this fear that if I change it, everything will go back to how it was in the past. Traveling is also one of those things that makes me apprehensive because in the past, traveling caused me to have many FND flare ups and hospital visits, sucking out all the joy of the experience. I will count myself out of social events just because I don’t want to make myself too tired, causing a flare up, and I fear that since it has gone that way in the past, it will reoccur. Note to self: just because something has happened in the past, doesn’t mean it will happen again. I’m such an advocate for improving myself in every way possible, which is why going into this year, I want to be able to cut ties with all the negatives that I have experienced. I’ve adopted a “glass half full” mindset because I’ve gotten my hopes up so many times in the past, just to receive more bad news. I find it ironic that I let the fear of things that have already happened, and are in the complete past, dictate choices and thoughts that I have now. While I did learn in HR class this semester that “the best predictor of future behavior, is past behavior in similar circumstances,” behavior is totally different than adversity, because I can control behavior, while adversity isn’t really one of those things people choose to have. 2019 is the year I will go against my previous experiences, and realize that I won’t die if I choose to go on a road trip with my friends or break my rigid routine, my FND won’t necessarily flare up if I stay out past 11, and I will stop thinking that looking at the glass half empty protects me. Would you keep a container of rotten eggs stinking up the house because you bought them in the past? Didn’t think so. Holding onto the past can be so toxic if it’s not something worth holding onto.  

Resolutions can be daunting. A lot of people make resolutions that are “life changing,” but resolutions don’t have to be huge changes. Maybe you want to watch one less hour of TV, eat more vegetables, or break a habit. It can be really hard to hold yourself accountable once the New Year starts (which is why the gym usually goes back to its normal amount of people a couple weeks into January). Don’t be one of those people! Write down your resolutions somewhere, post it on the fridge, tell someone, or make it public on social media like I literally am doing right now, so feel free to call me out if you see me slacking! It can also be really hard to think about things that you want to change about yourself. I know for me, it was hard to admit to myself that I needed to improve some of these things. If resolutions haven’t worked for you in the past, consider going at it a different way (I made the resolution to floss everyday last year but that didn’t happen, hence the Dino Flossers incentive). Mindset is also vital to making a change. Don’t see resolutions as something you HAVE to do, see it as something you GET to do! If you have to do it, chances are, you won’t. Making a change is challenging , but so is being unsatisfied with where you are now- choose your challenge. 

Happy New Year, everyone! New year, better you! 

~Lauren

Five Components of Fitness

Recently I had to write a paper for my conditioning class (ironic, like horizontal running). I actually enjoyed having to write this paper because it combines two of my favorite things: writing, and fitness. I thought this would be a great topic to share with you guys as a #FitnessFriday post. The word “fitness” has so many definitions because everyone thinks of it differently.  To some it is all aesthetic, some believe it to be strength, and some cardio. I know that my idea of fitness has changed significantly over the years. When I was younger, fitness meant going to the club and running on the treadmill. When I was a gymnast, fitness meant being active through cardio and strength. Now, I practice all five components of fitness because they are equally important in order to live a healthy life, and being able to do everything I want to do as I get older. Fitness is not just a hobby, it is a lifestyle, that is applicable to ALL ages. 


1. Cardiovascular Fitness

The first component of fitness is cardio. Big surprise there. Cardio is not all about seeing how many calories you can torch before your lungs start to burn, and trying to beat the person next to you on the treadmill…well, that last one isn’t true. It is actually a great measure of fitness because your body starts to adjust to what you demand. Most people forget the “vascular” part of cardiovascular, and that is the most important reason for doing cardio in the first place. Sure, burning calories is great, but strengthening your heart and lungs, increasing circulation, and oxygen flow, is the most important part of it all. It may not be easy to tell, but cardio improves overtime. Change in heart rate is a great way to see if your cardio has improved, as well something as simple as shaving off a couple seconds on your mile time. This is why we were required to run the mile growing up, do those annoying step tests, pacer tests, and resting heart rate tests. Back in high school, I could jog one lap around the indoor track and my heart rate would be at 204 (I’m not kidding). Now, I have to full out sprint to get it above 160! My mile time has also gone from nine minutes back in seventh grade, to around seven minutes now. The best, and easiest, forms of cardio are running, cycling, swimming, jumping rope, and walking. Anything that gets your heart rate up! It is important to change up intensity because your body will adapt to what you are doing after a while, making it not as effective. While it may feel like you are dying since cardio is hardio, it’s actually preventing you from dying 🙂 

2. Muscular Strength

Muscular strength is fancy talk for weights. I know a lot of people have the stereotypical image in their heads of a body builder walking around with their protein shake, cut off tank, and lifting 300 lbs of iron. A lot of women avoid weights just because this is what they imagine, don’t have a game plan, are intimidated, don’t know the importance of it, or don’t want to get “too big.” Building muscle is not exclusive to just throwing around some dumbbells, or lifting heavy things. Being a gymnast, I was fortunate to learn that body weight exercises are just as effective, as gravity is a great resource! Yes, muscle is built by heavy lifting, but it is also built through resistance training, body weight exercises, as well as low weight and high rep exercises (get out those soup cans!) Weight training is beneficial in order to lose fat, boost metabolism, increase bone density, but also, it is a great confidence booster as you start to see progress by being able to lift heavier, do more reps, physically see results, or hit a new PR. Not going to lie, I used to be scared of venturing into the weight room, but after retiring from gymnastics, I have started to incorporate free weights, machines, and TRX along with my body weight exercises. It doesn’t require anything extensive, as most of my circuits are found on Pinterest, or watching fitness gurus on Instagram. Deadlifts aren’t dead, y’all. 

3. Muscular endurance

This one can sometimes be confused with cardio because muscular endurance is the ability for the muscle to perform without fatigue. Yes, we get tired and feel like we can’t take another step when we run, but cardio has more to do with “sucking air.” For example, bad muscular endurance is only being able to do one push up, or doing one lat pull down on the machine. The best way to improve this component is by practicing that motion over and over. An increase from one push up to two push ups is even a gain. Just like endurance is improved when you do more of it in cardio, it goes the same for your muscles. And just like endurance can be gained, it can be lost, which is why it is important to focus on both your cardio, and your strength. I will say, my muscular endurance has decreased a bit since I had to stop gymnastics, as I can’t pump out the pull ups like I used to, simply because I don’t willingly choose to do pull ups (like any normal person). Use it or lose it!  

4. Body Composition 

The fourth component of fitness is body composition; the relative amount of muscle, fat, bone, and other vital parts of the body. This one is kind of a given, as the reason most people work out in the first place is to change, or maintain, their body composition. When I say body composition, it is not just focused on body fat percentage. A lot of us are guilty for only focusing on body fat, as humans are great at honing in on the negative aspects of ourselves, and forgetting about the positives. The reason body composition is an important part of fitness is because it an essential part to overall well-being. For the fat we do have (we all have it and need it), it is important to know if it is subcutaneous (harmless), or visceral (more dangerous as it wraps around your organs). This is why it is important to focus on body composition, not just for looks. Knowing how much muscle you have compared to fat, is important because a lot of people only focus on the numbers. When I say numbers, I’m talking about the typical bathroom scale, or BMI chart. It is so dangerous to rely on these only because they don’t show the whole picture. I look at transformation pictures on Instagram where people go from losing body fat, and gaining muscle; it looks like they’ve lost a ton of weight, but in reality, they stayed the same. BMI charts don’t factor in how much muscle someone has, so it may say someone is overweight when in reality they are made of muscle. This goes for the scale, too. Instead of stepping on the scale, it is a lot healthier to base body composition on how clothes fit, or getting a scale that shows the breakdown!

5. Flexibility

Last but not least, flexibility. This is important because flexibility prevents so many injuries at any age! I’m thankful to have been in a sport that heavily enforced this, and made a habit in me to stretch after every single workout. You can be the strongest person in the world, but it is useless if your hamstrings are so tight that you can’t bend over to lift up the barbell. That may be a bit exaggerated, but flexibility is often overlooked! Sit and reach was MY event during fitness testing, and we wouldn’t have been tested on it if it weren’t important. Just like endurance decreases when it isn’t practiced, flexibility gets so much worse as you get older unless you keep up with it. Flexibility can be compared to taking care of a kid, or a plant (but don’t compare your kid to a plant). If you water it or feed them once a week, and expect it/them to function the same by the next week, you are so wrong. This is why I made a vow when I retired to be able to do the splits and touch my toes until the day I die! I can be easily found in the gym doing the splits everyday, along with my other creepy gymnast stretches that make people stare at me like I have two heads, Lastly, without my flexibility, how else would I shave in the shower if I couldn’t put my leg up on the wall? 

As I mentioned before, fitness is a lifestyle, not a hobby that stops once you leave the gym. Why? How are you going to run after your kid’s basketball that is furiously rolling down the street, or sprint to get the last pair of Lulu leggings in your size on black Friday, if your cardio is not up to speed? How are you going to lift your screaming toddler out of a crib, or carry giant grocery bags to the house if your muscular strength is non existent? Imagine how hard it would be to quickly shovel the MN snow off the driveway if you don’t have enough muscular endurance to do the same motion over and over again (move to Florida, problem solved). Body composition helps to keep overall health intact, and helps when trying on jeans from the previous year, praying that they still fit. And lastly, flexibility allows for bending over to get the laundry out of the wash, getting the paper off the driveway, or simply showing off the splits as a cool party trick. All of these are needed to carry out everyday tasks, and to live your life!

My challenge for you this week is to focus a little bit more on one or more of these aspects that you tend to put on the back burner. Have a fantastic Friday, folks!

~Lauren