She will be loved 💕

Happy February, lovely!

What’s been on your heart lately? I’ve been thinking about positive body image since I wrote a blog post on it yesterday for the Department of Public Health (where I’m completing an internship rotation), and I wanted to share about that topic with you, too.

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. (John 13:34)

Today, we get to fully grasp and enjoy God’s personal love for us. It just hit me today that there’s actually no need for “self-love” – the love we need is already taken care of. In a good relationship, we don’t have to worry about loving ourselves. Instead, a beautiful confidence fills us when we’re close to our person! When they’re telling us and showing us how valuable, beautiful, and necessary we are, we naturally respond with self-confidence in that moment. When you’ve got goodness coming in, you don’t have much room in your mind for your own self-doubt. You can just focus on loving them back!

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God’s trying to be our encourager like that all the time. He tells us over and over in His word that he deeply loves us, cherishes us, and has a great plan for the future that requires us. He blankets us in His love through the beauty of the world, the kindness of others, and through prayer and worship. He doesn’t want us to think negatively about ourselves, and makes it clear that He makes us able to think on what is lovely, admirable, and praise-worthy (Phil 4:8). I wonder if we might be able to use His love to carry us through this day? If we call His words to mind enough, could we think well of ourselves more often? Romans says that we are transformed by the renewing of our minds… so let’s fill our minds with the truth of what God thinks about us.

Instead of just body image, I find it helpful to put the focus first on self-image – looking at how we see our whole person. People look first at the outside, but God looks at the heart. If you really look at others, too, I think you’ll see what’s enduring. A beautiful heart, kind words, selfless actions, wisdom – those are things that are really beautiful. I find that when my focus is right – when I’m seeking God – He will shine through, and I like myself a lot more then. That’s the most attractive thing I have seen in others, too!

“God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)

Then, let’s look at the outside. The most effective way to do this is to evaluate your habits – am I taking care of me? When we take care of ourselves the best, we’re in the position to be and look the very best we can, and that’s enough. Discipline is good, and it’s a biblical principle. When we make our first discipline reading the bible, we can find strength there to pursue excellence in other areas of our lives, and perspective to keep our priorities in order. We can then implement habits like regular exercise and healthy meals, and over time, we will see and feel progress in our physical appearance. It’s worth pursuing, because it can help us feel more confident in ourselves and less insecure, and that has a big impact on how we treat people.

I’m learning that focusing on loving and encouraging others instead of trying to get approval is the way to go. It’s a good distraction from self-doubt, and you will often find the love and fulfillment that you receive in return makes you feel the most beautiful!

Wishing you a happy Valentine’s Day!

XOXO,

Rae

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Add Joy to your Plate 😊

Hope your holiday has been full of love and cozy blankets 😊 I just have to share what has been on my heart the last few days with you!

Last year around this time, my pastor told us that he believed 2019 was going to be a year of great joy. I go to Church of the Highlands – some of you were probably there in that service with me! Maybe you’ve felt a heaviness like Pastor Chris talked about that day – like a dark cloud just following you around (here’s a link to the sermon if you want to watch it!). I remember how my heart felt sitting in that chair, and I knew that God was telling me that things were going to be okay.

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This Christmas Eve, I was sitting in the same section, in the same building, and it hit me – It really has been the year of great joy. To sit there and realize how far I’d come, and just how different everything looked to me from the exact same place… was overwhelmingly beautiful. I can even say I’m thankful for the hard times, because thanks to those I got to see the goodness of God in a more tangible way. The biggest reason it’s been such a happy year is… community!! Good friends in your life are a straight up gift – and I’m so thankful for it! I really can’t credit the change to anything I did. He gives, and He takes away – and I love Him for it, and I love the way he orchestrates my life when I walk with Him.

What I learned in 2019:

  1. Joy is a choice, but it’s also a gift. Choose to be happy and have a good attitude every chance you get – even when you don’t feel joyful. And when you do feel it, recognize it as a gift from God.
  2. Hang with God and ask him for what you need. When you don’t know, just seek Him, and He’ll show you what your life is supposed to be about.
  3. Get in the Word. Listen to some good worship jams. Talk to God. Those things bathe your mind in protection, teach you and give you direction for life, and refresh you!
  4. Get active in a life-giving church and hang around people who make you feel loved.
  5. Choose a good attitude every chance you get.
  6. Focus on loving others, and your internal struggles will start to fade.
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Great read if you need a boost in any way!

The joy of the Lord can literally help you get out of bed in the morning. It can help you find the motivation to exercise, and it can even help you eat better. God cares about everything we care about, has a great plan for our lives, and wants us to enjoy being alive. He loves us! So, if we ask for His guidance about eating, He will give it to us. If we read His Word we will learn about living a life of integrity, and become attuned to ways to steward our lives well. His yoke is easy though, and his burden is light – there’s a distinct ease that you can find in all areas of living when you’re doing it with God.

I’m so glad that I’ve studied nutrition in school, because it’s ingrained a lot of practical knowledge in me that helps me to eat well without thinking too hard about it. I want to share the basic method for building a plate that so many dietitians and successful athletes use. This is a great way to structure your meals that will help you stay satisfied between them and get a balance of all the foods that are good for you.

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(This plate is modeled after USDA guidelines. It’s tailored to people who are healthy and moderately active. If you’re training hard for an hour or more a day, you’ll  want to check out the Team USA resources.)

Start with fruits and veggies when you can because they (a) keep you full and (b) provide vitamins, minerals, and antioxidant phytochemicals to help you stay healthy and perform at your best. Add some lean protein like meat, poultry, fish, nuts, or lower-fat dairy to maintain and build strong muscles, skin, hair, and nails. Finish your plate off with whole-grain carbs or starchy vegetables like whole wheat bread, brown rice, or potatoes for sustained energy – along with the fiber you need for a healthy heart and gut. You might not always be able to get all those components if you’re eating out or at a party – just get as close as you can and call it good!

If you add fat while cooking, choose healthy unsaturated fats like olive oil over less healthy saturated fats like butter. Then, the no-brainers – reduce mindless snacking on Christmas cookies and drinking too many sugary drinks, both of which give you calories without the sustained energy that good, balanced meals do. A little bit is okay, but it’s up to you to find the balance that works for you! The best thing to do, too, is to add joy to your eating. Find that contentment with yourself and with God, and enjoy meals with people you love! When you pursue right attitudes, it’s a lot easier to be happy with what’s good for you and with where you are right now.

I just want to remind you too that food can’t soothe an aching soul. This time of year can be rough on the heart, especially if you’re experiencing loss or loneliness. Don’t hesitate to reach out! I know there is a lot of food around at this time, or maybe it’s something else that you find comfort in – but family and friends are also really available right now too. Ultimately, though – it’s you and God. That’s what you can count on when everything and everyone else falls away. You can hang your hat on Him! Say His name, even through tears, and wait – He will come and comfort you. And even if it takes a long, long time – trust Him, and He will restore your joy!

xoxo,

Rae

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The Secret to Success in Health + Fitness

I think it’s time for a comeback! 🙊

I was talking to one of the other dietetic interns in my program, (hey Lynice!) and she reminded me that we need to share what we know about nutrition with people so they can benefit from it too. She posted the cutest grocery haul video over on her instagram, and since I’m a more effective writer than I am a talker, I decided that I really should start sharing more in the best way I know how.

A lot has changed since I did most of my posting here back in undergrad. Since I was working out much more then with my team and ate most of my meals on campus, the biggest things that changed with my nutrition were (a) how much food I could eat, and (b) how easy it was to get it. While it was nice for my old joints to have a break from running so often, I did have to take my physical fitness into my own hands. It was such a blessing having all the coaches I’d had for the past 14 years, and I’m glad I can use what they taught me about exercise and self-discipline to take care of myself. Surprisingly, even though diet and exercise weren’t easy to manage after graduation, keeping a heathy mindset has become the most important to me.

For all former athletes it can be hard to deal with the perceived loss of self-identity that comes with no longer competing. It’s also hard to build friendships equal to the ones you had with your teammates… the people you bonded with over a lot of sweat, ice baths, those dark and early mornings, running up the hill after 5-minute showers trying not to be late to class, long runs at the dirt roads, and Einstein’s bagels. Thankfully, I have been blessed with so many close, like-minded friends now, but I went through a really tough and lonely time before I got to the good stuff.

A lot of that was my own fault! I was pretty down on myself for a while because I felt like I couldn’t control my appetite, some of my favorite clothes stopped fitting, and I had a hard time recognizing myself in the mirror. By the time I was a year out of sport, I really didn’t feel like “me” or know who I was anymore. I was always anxious while I was exercising because I was afraid of one of my old injuries flaring up (and they often did), and of not looking like an athlete anymore in the gym. I didn’t want to get involved at church until I liked the way I looked again, because I missed the old me and I didn’t think people would like me the way I was. I couldn’t focus as well as usual on school because I was so distracted by all of these things, and procrastinating made me more stressed, which made me want to overeat… again.

That awful cycle really affected my self-confidence, and I couldn’t encourage people the way I wanted to. Maybe I should have started with encouraging myself? It turns out, God had a lot of encouragement waiting for me in other people and in his word, and now that I’ve stopped hiding and started listening, I’ve found so much freedom from the pain I was in. I’ve learned that it is important to take good care of your body so you can bring a secure and confident presence to the world, while simultaneously accepting grace and realizing that you have so much to offer to the people around you right at this moment (no matter what you look like or how you feel).

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Me & my bud T-ball at our YP Christmas party! Proof you can love others and be super happy no matter what you have on. Even if it’s tacky.

Mental health, exercise, and diet are often closely intertwined, and in my life, I can see that very clearly. Since my undergrad degree was in exercise science, with a concentration in nutrition and a psychology minor, it really shouldn’t surprise me that these are my three favorite things to talk about. I don’t think you can look at just nutrition without the other two and see the results that most people want to see – so, these three topics will be the main focus of this blog going forward! Of course, I’m not a health professional (yet!), so I will share what I’ve learned in school and from my personal experiences with the disclaimer that it shouldn’t be taken as medical advice or substitute for meeting with your very own registered dietitian 😊.

On to the good stuff.

This is the “secret sauce” for reaching any goal you might have in the area of health and fitness. You probably have a goal, but do you really want to spend forever being halfway there, or about to start? If you want to take control of your nutrition and exercise habits, you’ve got to identify a deeply rooted “WHY,” or motivation that can keep you going even when your emotional motivation is running low.

Your “WHY” is a deeper purpose behind what you’re doing that can keep you going even when you don’t feel like doing it anymore.

Ask yourself: Why do my goals matter to me enough to eat in a way I can be proud of? Why would I exercise right now when I don’t feel like it? What’s the reason I get up in the morning, and how can taking care of myself help be be better at that?

My “why” is something along the lines of “I take care of myself so that I can love others more effectively.” I remember many times when being unhappy with myself hurt the people around me or kept me from encouraging them like I could have. I know that when I’m proud of my choices and feel good about myself, I’m much more able to be the person I want to be for others, and that makes me feel fulfilled. Having a deep why can turn seemingly meaningless daily choices into a set of core values we can live by, that help us to reach the biggest goals and dreams that God has placed in our hearts. It also helps us not to go overboard, because it keeps the main thing, the main thing.

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Make your why personally meaningful to you, even if it makes no sense to anyone else.  Write it down, and re-read it often. Call it to mind when you’re feeling like giving up. If you really use this, I think you’ll be a lot happier with the choices you end up making. I know I have been.

Next week, I’ll talk about building eating habits to support your goals and your why! Once you have your motivation clear in your mind, you’ll be unstoppable. Just in time for the holidays. 🎄

Much ❤️,

Rae

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