Loving an Addicted Person

Hey friends! So I haven’t posted midweek this week like I usually do, and for good reason. The last five days I’ve been in Tampa with my family. My mom, my dad, and I flew down earlier this week to spend a few days with my brother, who lives 2 hours from Tampa.

The reason we went down there was to celebrate my brother’s date of being one year clean of drugs and alcohol. We all had an awesome time together, visiting Busch Gardens and exercising and eating all the good food and laughing. If you had seen this family a few years ago, and saw us these past few days, you wouldn’t believe the difference.

It’s been a long time coming, but the positive family dynamic and all-around happiness has been well-deserved. My parents are saints for things that they’ve put up with, from both of their kids. And my brother finally seems to be in a great place, mentally and physically.

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I’m going to delve into some things tonight that are super personal. And super emotional. But they need to be written about. There’s still such a stigma about addiction, it’s such a tough subject to talk about. People usually ask me why my brother moved to Florida and I’m typically pretty hesitant to tell someone I’m not close to, because I’m scared of how they’ll judge- judge him, judge me, judge my family.

All of this content has been gone over with my brother, Jordan, prior to posting. He wants to share his story. He wants to help others. If people can see how such a great outcome can come from such dark times, I hope it can give them the hope they need to get through their own personal tough times.

Jordan was a bad kid, from the beginning. Being shipped off to military school at a young age, stealing my car before he has a license, stealing money, hanging out with a bad crew. At my high school, a lot of kids had started taking prescription pills at parties… it was the thing to do. So, I wasn’t surprised when I learned he had fell into this. At age 17, he crashed one of my cars in the neighborhood and when it was found he was using pills, he was court ordered to rehab. He got “better” for the most part, graduated high school, and started college at Kutztown. Obviously not seeing him as much, it was hard to keep an eye on him and see what he was up to. But myself and my parents had our suspicions.

Jordan and I had never got along. It was hard for me to trust him and even be nice to him after I had to get a new car TWICE because of him. So one day we were headed out to dinner to my aunt’s house, my parents were in the car and calling for Jordan and I to get in the car. I ran upstairs because I had forgotten something in my room, and I caught him trying to take money out of my purse. Of course, I freaked out, ran down and told my parents. I was so f*cking angry, especially because he was lying saying it wasn’t true. He lied about everything back then. My parents ended up dropping him back off at school on the way to my aunt’s before dinner because none of us could stand to be around him. At this point, I realized I had to start hiding my money, and I think our relationship ultimately took a turn for the worse.

Jordan ended up transferring home from Kutztown, to go to University of Delaware. I was not happy about this, because he was now living at home. I tried to avoid him most of the time. We had opposite schedules so we barely talked or saw each other.

Jordan was first arrested probably at the age of 19 or 20, for a DUI and drug possession coming home from Philly. This was the first time myself, my mom, and my dad found out he was using heroin. I still remember the way I felt when I heard my mom say it. That word. Heroin. It still gives me chills and makes my eyes fill up even today. I couldn’t wrap my head around it. My baby brother, who at first was just partying and drinking and getting high because that’s what everyone else was doing… but this? Nodding out while driving, and getting pulled over with a ridiculous amount of heroin on him?

He got sent off to rehab, somewhere near Atlantic City. Good riddance, I had thought. I wished they had sent him farther. I wanted nothing to do with him, wanted him to get out of all our lives forever, to stop costing my parents so much money, so much sadness, so much pain. It wasn’t fair, they never deserved any of it. My mom would cry to me about what she could have done to prevented this, how she could help him just get better. It is such an awful thing to see your mother hurt in that way. I made it worse, I would yell at her to stop being so nice to him, to put her foot down, to stop caring so much about him because he clearly didn’t care about us. She could never understand how I could be so heartless and angry and refuse to show any compassion for my only brother. We had no idea how much worse it would get before it got better.

When he came home from that rehab he had to go to court for the previous DUI. He was put on probation and 30 days house arrest. I always thought they were too lenient on him. I couldn’t wait for the day they would just lock him up already. Him and my mom had a fight one night, and the next thing you know, he disappeared. Waited until nobody was home.. took his TV, Xbox, my dad’s tablet and bunch of other things to pawn for money. Through the location on his phone, we figured out he was in Philly, buying heroin we assumed. We were unable to find him but he ended up turning himself in.

The next two years consisted of different rehab stints, getting kicked out, coming home, going to rehab again, getting “better”– things being fine for a few weeks at a time. Then things would start to change. My mom said she could always tell when he would come home high, she could see it in his eyes, she could hear it in his voice. But, he always lied. And she knew that. So then they would fight. And he would disappear again for a few days, doing God knows what.

There was about a year, maybe more, where Jordan was “clean”…but I wouldn’t say in full recovery because he had started taking up drinking again. At this point our relationship had started to mend a little bit. I felt bad for him, all his friends were going out to the bars, of course he wanted to go and partake in the drinking as well. He wasn’t doing drugs, he wasn’t stealing money, he had kept a job and was working his ass off. We were able to have a decent conversation from time to time.

Things eventually got out of hand, as I’m sure you might have assumed that they would. We suspected he was doing drugs again. One night I came home from work, it was like 11pm or close to midnight. I went upstairs, brushed my teeth, washed my face, and walked past Jordan’s room to get to mine, like I did every night. I heard this weird sound coming from his room, it sounded like snoring. I didn’t think anything of it. So I laid down to go to bed, I was so exhausted… as I was about to fall asleep I thought to myself: “I’ve slept in the bedroom next to Jordan’s for the last 23 years… and I have never heard him snore.” So I went to his room and knocked on the door. No answer. I opened the door, and I swear it was like something out of a movie. He was laying on his back on the bed, wheezing… unlike any sound I had ever heard. His face was black and blue. He legitimately looked like a vampire from a movie. I couldn’t even touch him or try to sit him up I was so horrified. I immediately screamed for my mom and dad and ran out of the room, hysterical. I called 911 and told them my brother was overdosed in his bed.

My mom was totally calm. She had seen him like this before, at this point it didn’t phase her. But it phased me. I still remember exactly what it looked like and I don’t think I’ll ever forget. When the police arrived, 10 minutes later, they gave him whatever shot it is that reverses an overdose. He slowly came back to somewhat normal, at least breathing normally again. But he looked like he couldn’t form words and definitely didn’t remember what had happened.They took him out of the house on a stretcher. I told the police what had happened, how I was seconds away from going to sleep. The officer told me if I hadn’t found him at the time that I did, he would have been dead by the morning.

I know what you’re thinking– this was Jordan’s rock bottom. But it wasn’t. There were many more benders. One day, in October 2016, Jordan went missing, and called my mom from a hospital in Philly six days later. This time, my mom finally put her foot down. She was buying him a one-way to ticket to Florida, or he was going to not have a home anymore.

Fast forward to today, Jordan is one year clean and sober. He’s living in Florida, has a serving job, is doing Crossfit, yoga, and regularly running. He’s living in a sober home with other boys, and he’s the manager of the house. He’s just recently enrolled in online school.

There were so many years I spent thinking, as awful as it sounds, “my brother is already dead.” So many nights I was scared that phone call was coming. I always wondered where I would be. At work? Out with my friends? Would my parents wait until I came home to tell me? How was it going to happen? On accident? Or him finally having enough, and doing it on purpose?

I realize now how deeply depressed and sick my brother was. He doesn’t have a drug problem. He has an addiction problem. I was always that person who said “addiction isn’t a disease. That person knew the consequences the first time they took that drug.” How wrong I was. 

I spent so much time being angry and resentful towards him, and letting that cause problems with my mom and dad as well. I never tried to understand it. I never read any of the books, like my mom did. I never went to any therapy sessions with him. I only sent him kind words when he was away because my mom had bugged me to and guilt-ed me into it. But I never meant it. There truly was a time when I thought this family would be better off without him.

Just typing that sentence now really pains me. My brother is now one of my best friends. How could I ever have thought that way? Jordan is such an intelligent, caring, funny, positive human being. I’m so proud to be his sister. I think why I was always so angry with him is because he has so much potential, and I hated to watch him throw his life away.

To any one out there struggling with addiction, there is always, always hope. There is always someone who cares about you and wants you to do well. There is always another life waiting for you at what seems to be the end of yours.

And to anyone who loves someone who is addicted, there is always a way to be a little more understanding, to change your outlook, to help them. I know it’s hard, believe me. Being angry is the easiest way to go. Love them. That’s all they need.

 

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5 lessons that traveling has taught me

Although my experiences with travel have only just begun, I feel like I have learned so much more about myself than most others ever get to. I love looking back on my pictures and posts from when I was abroad, and reminiscing on my thoughts and feelings during those moments. Everything I’ve come across, every person I’ve met, every place I’ve been has held meaning to me and has helped me grow and improve as a human.

We all know that a fancy college education does not give you street smart. We all know that life’s ups and downs are the true teachers. But something about being alone, in a foreign country, with lots of time to think and reflect, has etched some ideas in my mind that will always be a part of me.

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Experiences are worth much, much more than material things.

We live in a world surrounded by fancy, shiny things.  We feel the need to always keep up with the latest fashion trends, latest technology, etc. But for me, rather than material items, I’ve always felt that my money should be spent otherwise- mainly for trips and traveling. I’ve never been much of a materialistic person, so this concept is probably harder to grasp for some people. I’m also young, and didn’t grow up with a super rich family that spoiled the crap out of me.

When I traveled to Southeast Asia this past summer, I took nothing but a 50L backpack with me. (Speaking of material things- I splurged big $$ on the backpack, lol!).. I was so excited to get it in the mail, and then I was astounded as to the little amount of clothes I could fit in it. Even rolled up all perfectly and stuffed in there, there was no way I could fit all my nice, name brand workout clothes in there. I literally had to pick a week’s worth of workout clothes and a week’s worth of tank tops and shorts, some socks, sandals, bathroom stuff, and that’s it!

After about a few weeks of wearing the same clothes, doing laundry every week, and switching up the shirt and shorts combo the best I could, I realized that nobody around me cared what I was wearing. I didn’t even care what I was wearing. I was meeting so many people, doing so many fun things (and also sweating my f*cking ass off every second of everyday- my clothes were almost always dirty instantly). I became aware that those material things meant nothing there. I was literally the happiest I’ve ever been with nothing on me except a backpack full of my belongings. When you realize something like that, your priorities begin to change.

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Appreciation is everything.

Appreciation is a tricky little thing. Even if you consider yourself an appreciative and grateful person, you almost always don’t appreciate a moment until it’s gone. There’s still times when I can remember something from my travels so vividly and I almost start to cry, because I wish I could go back to that very moment so I could appreciate it just a little bit more. You have to sit back and revel at every sunset, every insane view, every piece of scenery that looks like nothing like you’ve ever seen before.

I’m also extremely appreciative of the very opportunities I have to travel. I live in a country that allows me to freely travel, my family and my friends are incredibly supportive, I’m financially stable enough to travel, and I can take off of work to travel. I feel very blessed because of this.

When traveling to certain areas, you also become very appreciative of the comforts of your own life. After spending so much time in Asia, I will never take toilet paper, a working toilet, and our plumbing system for granted again. Over there, you can’t just drink water out of the tap. Every time you drink water, you have to buy a bottle. It’s little things like this that we often take for granted. Don’t.

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You’re never ready.

Was I ready to book a one way ticket to Thailand? Hell no. I was so scared. I had mixed feelings about traveling alone but I didn’t want to wait around for anyone else or wait until I felt “ready.” Because I knew that would be never. This far in my life, it’s the best decision I ever made.

Most people spend their lives pushing things off until they’re “ready.” Well let me be the one to break it you, you’re never going to be ready. For anything in life that you want to do… for every reason you want to do it, there will be five reasons not to. There will always be people in your ear telling you you’re crazy, you’re wrong, or you need to wait.

The timing is almost never perfect. But if you get in the cycle of thinking you want to do something then backing out, you’ll stay stuck in the cycle forever. You have to be proactive about your own life. Forgetting the naysayers, being brave, growing some balls, going out on a limb… the time to do it is now. Because in reality, life is short. You can’t spend it waiting.

 

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You are never really alone.

Anyone who knows me, knows that my biggest fear before my big trip was that I wasn’t going to make any friends. All my friends laughed at me when I would say this, and now looking back on it, I laugh at it too. During my travels I have met so many wonderful people, from all over the world,  it’s mind-boggling. Some will be friends for life, some just acquaintances. If you guys are reading this- thank you for the memories, I love you!!!

I never, ever felt lonely. Even when I was alone. Sometimes it was super nice to be alone, unwind, and reflect. But my point really is, you are never alone. There is so much out there. So many people feeling just like you are, waiting to find you. The universe always puts you on the path to meet those who are meant to be in your life.

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Everything changes, always.

Speaking of making friends… so every time I would meet some amazing people while traveling, I would get super sad when my time with them was over. When I was off to the next location, I had to say bye, and start all over again… it sucked! But then I would arrive in a new place and meet a whole new batch of awesome people. I had been so scared of that change, of starting over again, but I had learned to adapt to it and overcome it.

This is so, so important in all aspects of traveling. Situations can become less than ideal. Shit can go wrong. The idea you had pictured in your head may be way off. But over time you can teach yourself how to deal with these types of things.

The sooner you can come to terms with this change, the better. People change, circumstances change, things change. If you can learn to let go of things you can’t control, roll with the punches, and stop trying to control the behavior of others… the sooner you can live a more carefree, happy and fulfilled life.

 

Modern-day dating & how we’ve become so disconnected.

We live in a day and age where we are so connected, all the time, to everyone around us. By use of our handy iPhones (which never leave our side), we have the world and any information needed at our fingertips. Any contact with basically any person that you’ve ever met is literally a click away.

We have become the kings and queens of instant gratification. Hungry? Order a pizza on your phone, it’ll be there in 10 minutes. Sad about a recent break-up? Call your best friend and meet up with them at the bar to make yourself feel better. Bored? Open up your phone and start scrolling through Instagram. Lonely? Download a dating app and get to swiping, you’ll probably be messaging with someone in a few minutes.

We are the generation of impatience, of greediness, of selfishness. We can’t help it. We’re growing up in a world where we have instant access to everything, of course we’re going to take advantage of it. We’ve been taught from our parents that the world is ours, that we can be anyone and do anything. While this sounds great and dandy, I believe it’s begun to backfire.

I feel like most of us (notice I keep saying “we” and “us”…I am not exempt from this!) have begun to be disconnected–disconnected from the real world, disconnected from each other, disconnected from what’s really important.

Instead of working hard to build a fulfilling life, we’re more concerned with what our lives “look like” on Instagram. Instead of enjoying a funny moment, we’re Snapchatting it. We invest more time in our dating app profiles than our actual personalities.

When it comes to love, relationships, and dating, we are totally f*cking up. Trying to make a real, long-lasting connection in this world is extremely difficult. If you have found it, you are seriously lucky. It is hard out here. Now I’m not complaining– I’m perfectly content with being on my own. I prefer being alone over small talk over text message, uncomfortable first dates, strangers hitting on me at the bar. I enjoy my own company and I have for a long time. But, I’m not gonna lie and say I’m not scared that I won’t ever find someone that I truly connect with.

First off, most of the people I know my age are scared… no, terrified of commitment. “Casual” dating gives us the illusion that we are really trying. We care, but not too much. We put a little bit of effort in, but not too much. We play games, we play hard to get. We “hang out”, we take things slow, we avoid labels, we hook up, we keep our options open, we “see where it’s gonna go.” We want all the rewards of a relationship, but at none of the cost. We don’t want a partner, we want a plaything.

Once things start to get too real, we run. We claim that there’s always more fish in the sea. We make up some excuse as to why it was never going to work anyway. We come up with reasons why that person wasn’t our perfect match anyway. All the while forgetting that perfect isn’t real. The perfect person, the perfect situation, the perfect relationship– they don’t exist. This isn’t some Disney movie you grew up watching, this is real life. To build a long-lasting, sustaining, fulfilling, committed relationship– takes time, effort, understanding, patience… this list goes on. Most of us are lazy, immature, and quite frankly too selfish to make this happen. For once, it’s not all about you, it’s about someone else. We need to stop thinking love and happiness are one day going to plop themselves in our lap. We need to work for it.

So, how do we fix it? I’m not really sure. I don’t have all the answers. I’m a 25-year-old, single girl who’s never been in a relationship for longer than a year, so maybe I have no credibility here. But, I feel like if you are constantly working on yourself, growing as a person, setting goals, and putting your life into the direction you want it to go– one day you will be emotionally and mentally ready for a mature and sound relationship… alllllll the commitment included. Those who are not dedicated to their self-actualization and development will take a hell of a lot longer to reach this point. Personally, I see the fear of commitment as a very immature thing. It’s time to grow up!!!!!

Keep your expectations realistic. Let yourself be vulnerable. Realize that risks are sometimes necessary for rewards. Forget about your past. DON’T SKIMP OUT ON EFFORT. Put someone else first. Treat someone how you would want to be treated. Be honest about your feelings, with yourself and with others. Stop looking for “something better”– or you will live your entire life disappointed.

How to stop being so weak-minded.

Yes… you read that correctly. That’s the title of this post. I don’t mean to be harsh, I just mean to be honest.

We go through our lives, through good times and bad, through obstacles and less-than-ideal situations. When you reflect on past situations, how do you feel about how you handled them? Did you do the right thing? Did you behave like a coward? Did you take the easy way out? Did you learn from the situation?

There are so many ways we can ALL become better humans. That’s always the goal, right? It’s hard as hell to identify shortcomings in your mental toughness, but they are ultimately keeping us from who we want to be. I’ve come up with just a few ways you can try to make yourself tougher mentally.

Take responsibility for your actions.

Don’t be that person who always blames others. Admit when you’re wrong. Admit when you’ve f*cked up. Then immediately proceeding, work to fix it. How can you act differently next time this situation shows up?

Can you imagine what this world would be like if people took responsibility for things they said and did? There’s so much more respect given to someone who admits their faults and their mistakes, rather than blaming it on someone else, or better yet, reverting their mistakes onto you. We all know how this feels when someone does this to you. We teach our kids that being responsible is such an important quality to have, but we never teach them the importance of taking ownership of their own behavior. How are you supposed to learn from your mistakes if you can’t even admit them???

Show your gratitude.

This is a big one. As human beings, we crave appreciation and attention. All of us, in different ways. Some love to be showered in gifts, some need hugs, some just want a thank you every once in awhile. It’s so important to express your thanks and gratitude to those that love you, support you, and help you. Every single person on this planet needs help from someone around them, and that’s a f*cking fact. You cannot get by in this world all by your lonesome. Whether it’s monetary help, a ride to the airport, a bed to sleep in, career advice, buying a coffee, or borrowing clothes– the people closest to us help us because they care. They’re usually not looking for something in return. But nobody enjoys feeling underappreciated. Whenever you can, remind those around you how much you care, and how much you appreciate them. It’s not a hard thing to do, we’re just lazy. We think that these people are always going to be there at our disposal. Don’t be that person. Take care of those that take care of you.

Do what you say you’re going to do.

We all know that person. That person who’s a flake, who says they’re going to show up and never does. The person who says to count them in but in the back of your mind you know it’s not happening. I really don’t understand this. Besides the fact that it’s rude and disrespectful to tell someone else you’re going to do something and then not do it–but for your own personal sake. How can you set any goals for yourself, when you can’t even be held accountable? These are the people who say, “oh yeah, I’ll start my diet next week.” Fast forward a month and it still hasn’t happened. Fast forward a year and it still hasn’t happened. What kind of life is that?? This, in my opinion, is the weakest kind of person. If this is you, do yourself a favor, and call yourself on your own shit. If you say you’re going to do something, DO IT… it’s pretty simple.

Stop prioritizing the instant reward.

This is a good chunk of the population. As a human, it takes a looooong time and a lot of mistakes to train yourself to think about the outcome and the long run, rather than the moment right in front of you. This can manifest itself in many ways–forgetting about your goals when you cave and eat 3 donuts at work. Hitting the snooze button and missing your workout because when your alarm goes off, it’s cold outside and your bed feels so warm. Giving into your ex-boyfriend or girlfriend because it feels good for that night, then regretting it the next morning. Why? Why? WHYYYY? Because we are weak. That instant reward feels better to us then the long-term satisfaction and happiness. It seems silly when you lay it out that way- BECAUSE IT IS! You know these things are no-good for you. But you do them anyway. Next time, take a second, STOP, think about your long-term goals. Is what you’re about to do, really, truly worth it?? Is it helping you as a person? It takes a long time to discipline yourself to do this, but it becomes easier and easier every time.

Handle the truth.

We’ve all heard the saying, “the truth is gonna set you free, but first it’s gonna piss you off.” (from a movie but can’t remember which one)… but it’s so true. Most don’t deal well with the truth, because often it’s not something you want to hear. But, 9 times out of 10, a big ol’ slice of humble pie will do you well. Even if it sounds like someone’s trying to hurt you when they’re telling you the truth, they’re really just looking out for you. The truth can hurt you, and then proceed to help you. It will make you realize things that you couldn’t admit to yourself. The best kind of person around you is someone who will call you on your shit, and tell you the truth. Handle it. Use it. And move on from it. Then you can be free 🙂

STOP F*CKING COMPLAINING.

Complaining truly has no purpose in this world, and I don’t have much to say about it. I’m gonna break this down in the most simple way I can… because it really, truly is this simple. If you’re complaining about something you can change, THEN CHANGE IT. If you’re complaining about something you have no control over, THEN GET OVER IT. IT’S ONE OF THE TWO.

Stop avoiding the uncomfortable.

Sounds cliche, but get comfortable with the uncomfortable. It is the ONLY way to grow, mentally and physically. If you stay with what’s comfortable, with what you know, you will be stagnant your entire life. Put yourself out there. Risk rejection. Try new things. Embrace uncertainty. Stand up for yourself. Challenge yourself. Push through the pain. Don’t give up just because it’s hard. Your true potential lies outside of your comfort zone.

Don’t ever quit.

ON ANYTHING. Push through, pursue that shit relentlessly, and keep fighting, always. It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, but it does matter if you quit. People will always remember a quitter. You can rest, but don’t ever quit.

Fitness & nutrition myths, debunked

Working in the fitness industry, it’s kind of my job to keep people educated on topics pertaining to their health and wellness. Sometimes I’m amazed at the lack of information that those around me have about their fitness and their nutrition. There are so many myths out there that farrrrrr too many people believe.. here are some of my favorite ones and why you need to forget about them right away.

1. You need to go on a cleanse.

I’m just gonna go out on a limb here and tell you exactly how it is… cleanses are bullshit. They are. Congrats to you if you’ve ever done one because you wasted a lot of time and a lot money. In my opinion, cleanses are for people who are too lazy to actually learn good eating habits, and want a quick fix. It’s easy to fall for these marketing slews… drink this green drink and you will instantly feel better, clean out your cells, lose weight, stop your breakouts!

“I need to detox my body” is what I usually hear from people trying cleanses. But, if you ever took an anatomy class, and paid attention in it… you’d know that your body detoxes itself. That’s what it’s supposed to do. Toxins are naturally eliminated through your colon, liver, and kidneys. This is a natural process, and works WELL when you eat WELL. When your diet is full of processed shit, sugar, and alcohol, your body has a tough time keeping up with its own detoxification system. So what seems to be the obvious solution for this??? Changing your diet. Not picking up some green smoothie mix, starving yourself for the rest of the day, taking some pills, and spending the majority of your time on the toilet. Yes, you might lose weight on this cleanse. But the second you go back to your normal eating habits, you will gain it back. You will never see long-term, hard-earned results from a diet unless you make some serious changes to the way you eat and stick with them.

2. Calories don’t count on the weekends.

Obviously, this is a joke, people know that their calories count on the weekend, but quite frankly, they don’t care. They’ve chosen the lifestyle of eating clean Monday through Friday, and eating whatever the f*ck they want on the weekends. Besides for a cheat meal (which I’m all for)…if you want true, long-lasting results, your weekend should look exactly the the same as your weekdays. How do I know this? Because I’ve been there!!! I was a weekday dieter for the longest time. I worked so hard, I earned those calories, right? As someone who wants to be competitive in my sport (Crossfit), I was always looking for that thing I’m missing. What can I do to get a more competitive edge? My life and my training changed so much when I stopped shoving every piece of food I saw in my mouth on Saturdays & Sundays.

I get it, not all of us are competitive athletes. But if you want to feel good and look even better, and you’ve tried everything else, this might be your issue. Hint: it’s really f*cking hard. I’m not asking you to be perfect, I’m asking you to just try. Maybe instead of a whole cheat day on Sunday, make it just a cheat meal. Maybe instead of waffles and bacon with your kids on Saturday morning, you could opt for eggs and toast and veggies instead. Even though it seems like small tweaks, they help for long-term success.

3. Carbs make you fat.

What needs to change about this statement, to make it true, is just the addition of one word. Listen people, and remember. Carbs are your friends. Carbs do not make you fat. EXCESSIVE CARBS CAN MAKE YOU FAT. EX-CESS-IVE. Say it with me one more time!!! Excessive carbs can make you fat.

It’s really pretty simple, when you look at it from a scientific standpoint. It comes down to calories in versus calories out. If you intake more calories than you’re expending, you will gain weight. If you expend more calories than you take in, you will lose weight. These calories can come from ANY macro nutrient– protein, carbohydrates, or fat. So why are carbs always blamed for our weight gain???

Now, there’s lots of things we could discuss here that I would love to get into, about hormones and insulin and water retention and what happens to your body when you decide for whatever reason you need to “cut carbs.” But I’m just gonna keep it simple. Carbohydrates are the most efficient source of energy for our bodies. We run off of carbs, not proteins, not fats. Carbs, once broken down, get absorbed either immediately and used in the muscle cells for energy, or stored for later use as glycogen in the muscle and liver cells. Carbs are also VITAL to fueling the CNS (central nervous system) and brain. (I know someone reading this has had a time where they were cutting their carbs and their brain felt foggy and exhausted and they felt like they couldn’t concentrate… you were literally cutting off nutrients to your brain!)

So next time you think cutting carbs is the answer to your weight loss problems, please do some research first. Yes… you should stop stuffing your face every day with donuts, muffins, white bread, chips, and candy. But there is absolutely no reason to be scared of meals that have a portioned amount rice, potatoes, whole grains, fruit, whole grain pasta, rolled oats, etc. especially before or after your workouts!! These types carbs are your friends. This stigma around carbs is so undeserving! THEY ARE YOUR FRIENDS!

4. Eating at night makes you fat.

We’ve all heard this before, “Don’t eat after 6pm” “Don’t eat after 8pm”… whatever it is. I’ll say it again, calories in vs. calories in is what’s going to make you fat. But, timing of your meals does makes it a little more complicated. For some reason, we are under the impression that we don’t need any energy for sleep, that fasting for 8-12 hours is a good thing. I’m sorry, what??? If you care at all about your blood sugar levels (which you should)… snacking at night might not be such a bad idea. If you starve yourself from dinnertime until you wake up the next morning, you may experience some trouble sleeping, or wake up feeling groggy the next morning. This is most likely from low blood sugar levels. Blood sugar levels affect your appetite and energy levels and your body’s efforts to either burn or store fat. So, pretty important if you ask me. No, don’t go for that pint of ice cream before you hit the hay. But some complex carbs or some healthy fats (like peanut butter!!!) could do some good, rather than harm.

5. Lifting weights will make you “too big.”

First off, as someone who wants to “get big”… this is absolutely insulting. It takes years of hard work, clean eating, and discipline to get too big. People work their asses off in the gym and in the kitchen to try to build muscle. So, when someone walks in the gym, and says they’re scared to pick up a weight (because just touching the weight will make you automatically gain 10lbs of muscle???) says this ridiculous phrase to me, it’s insulting. I dare you to try to get too big. Lift all the weights. Drink all the water. Eat all the good, muscle-building foods. You know what will happen? You’ll burn fat. You’ll feel better. You’ll have a ton of energy. You’ll fit better in your clothes. You’ll see your shoulders and your leg muscles start to pop out. You will be more confident in yourself. These are all the outcomes of adding weights–any kind of weights, kettlebells, dumbbells, barbells, bodyweight training– into your workout regimen. I promise you, you’ll be happy you did.

6. Light weight/high reps = “toned”

To keep it going with the rumors and myths that surround weight training… this one is a goody. I don’t even know what “toned” means, or where the term came from. I’m assuming it means when you start weight training, and eating well, you burn fat, and build some lean muscle, and you start noticing your muscles popping out when you’re walking by a mirror. “Wow, I looked so toned” is maybe what you say to yourself… I don’t know. But for those of us that workout, this is obviously a goal that we all have. We all want our hard work to show. We all want to look like we work out.

Contrary to popular belief, light weight and with high repetitions is not the way to go. Light weights, high reps, and lots of sets (high volume), are what bodybuilders do. Why do they do this? Because it builds the size of their muscles, not necessarily their strength. If you want to look like a bodybuilder, do that. Heavy weights and low repetitions, are typically what strength athletes do (depending what cycle they are in, but think powerlifters, weightlifters, football players). This is because it builds their strength of their muscles, not necessarily their size. This is why sometimes a girl may be able to deadlift 350lbs.. but she doesn’t look like a bodybuilder. Make sense?

So if you’re going for a “toned” look (honestly, I wish we could get rid of that term forever)… you should be doing moderate volume, somewhere in the middle of what I just explained. Moderate weight (don’t be scared to go heavier!!!) for moderate reps and sets. the 10-15 rep range for 3-5 sets is sufficient. To build muscle (the toned look that you seek) the muscle needs to be overloaded, or challenged. So don’t be scared to grab a heavier dumbbell or throw some more weight on that barbell. Your body will thank you.

7. You need supplements.

Ok, I’ll say this, with this statement, there are exceptions. But I guarantee some of the supplements you spend lots of money on, are a complete waste.

So let’s start with what actually works. Creatine is just about the only scientifically-proven, legal, training aid out there. Creatine phosphate, naturally made by our bodies, supplies our fast-twitch muscle fibers with immediate energy.  When you supplement with creatine, basically your muscles can produce more energy, and faster. This is really helpful in training harder, and more often. But… its only really effective for short bursts of power. Creatine is a great supplement for sprint training, weightlifting, high-intensity exercise. You can perform well without creatine supplementation, so it is not necessary, but it may be something you’d want to try if you’re looking to get that extra edge.

Next, lets talk protein powder. First thing’s first, protein powder and shakes are meant to be supplements. Meaning they supplement your diet. They don’t replace anything. A protein shake is not a replacement for a meal with real food. Real food always take precedence. I recommend protein powder for people who come to me and say they feel like they’re not getting enough protein. I say, “Eat 3 meals a day with a protein source, and a shake with water after your workout.” That’s it. You don’t need 5 protein shakes a day to gain muscle. If you have trouble getting enough protein in your day, then protein shakes are an easy way to help. But, getting enough protein without protein shakes is absolutely do-able.

If you do supplement with protein powder, or you are eating a well-balanced diet with high-quality protein, you are getting plenty of essential amino acids (there’s 9 of  them). With that being said, you don’t need to buy BCAA’s (branch chained amino acids, 3 of the essential amino acids that you need) that come in the form of flavored powder you drink with water during your workout. They are a waste of money. They are marketed to make you think that during your grueling workout, your body needs to be replenished with amino acids right then and there. Wrong. You can get plenty of these necessary amino acids, before and after your workout, from high-quality proteins like meat, eggs, dairy, and whey protein supplements. Supplementing even more is just wasteful and not necessary.

 

Hope you guys enjoyed!! Feel free to ask if you have any questions :))

 

Monday is not really your problem!

As humans, we live for fresh starts and new beginnings: a new year, a new month, new week. We love things like New Years resolutions and we always plan to “start dieting” at the beginning of the week. (don’t really agree much with this– but that’s more for another time).

So, if Mondays stand for a fresh start, why do so many loathe them? Why are “Sunday scaries” a thing? Sunday is supposed to be a day to relax, unwind, prep mentally and physically for the week ahead. There’s nothing scary about it. What’s scaring you, is your life. There’s something missing from it. You may or may not realize you’re unhappy, and the fact that you’re not doing anything to change it, is quite frankly what’s scary.

It’s funny to me how we spend so much time overthinking, worrying, trying to control things in our lives that we have no control over. Yet, our happiness, we have complete and utter control over, and often we take no responsibility for it.

Quite frankly, it’s not Mondays you hate, it’s your job. It’s not Sunday that’s scaring you, it’s your life.

Yes– I do believe our system in America is broken. We are too career-centered and we let job positions define our entire lives. We are overworked during the week so we spend all week waiting for our “break”,  the weekend, and then it always seems to go by too fast. But this is your life. And you only get one. Is this really how you want to live it?

There’s absolutely no reason we should spend 40 hours a week, 160 hours a month, 1920 hours a year, in a job that we hate. Okay, sure, sometimes it’s temporary. You could be sticking it out for a few more months before you move or change jobs, or you have something better in the works. But in no way, shape, or form should this be a permanent cycle for you.

If this is speaking to you– you need to take a step back and think about your life. Who are you? The answer shouldn’t be your job position. Who really are you? Your self and your qualities should shine through your work. Are you building a career for yourself? Or are you just punching the clock?

Everyone has the potential to find something they love, and make a living out of it. Be creative, think out of the box, follow your f*cking dreams. Find what makes you feel so passionate, what makes you want to get out of bed in the morning. Yes, you might have to spend some time with it as your “side hustle”, with your regular gig being the money maker. But over time, it can become your career!

Take me for example. I spent six years getting a four-year degree because I listened to my parents, went back and forth between majors, and transferred schools. From the beginning, I should have gone with my gut rather than worrying about what kind of job would make me the most money.

I wanted to go to school for exercise science… I loved exercising, so why not? (LOL) My parents convinced me otherwise, they said I’d never make any money, so we decided on physical therapy instead. Long story short, I realized I did not want to work with old people (just being honest). I had hit my limit of how much money my parents were going to give me for college, so I transferred home. I ended up transferring again, this time going for my bachelors in Exercise Science. And surprise surprise, I loved it. School was legitimately interesting for me, because it was something I cared about. I knew I had limited options for getting a job, but I didn’t care. I wanted to spend my days doing something I was excited about.

Fast forward to now, I’m working as a server full-time and coaching Crossfit part-time. For life goals, I would love to use both my degree and my CF certifications to open up my own strength and conditioning facility one day.

Waiting tables is obviously not my passion. I don’t hate it, I don’t dread going to work, and the money is awesome and allows me to save for important things (like travels!) and I don’t want to give it up right now. CF is currently my “side hustle”– what I really look forward to every day. Someday I hope it will be my main source of income.

Learn from me. As early as you can, figure out what you actually want to do. What could your side hustle be? How can you make it into a career? How do you plan to build the life you want?

Because I get to do something I love, I thoroughly enjoy Mondays. My whole outlook on the week has changed. How your Monday goes determines how the rest of your week goes, so why not set a good tone? My Mondays consist of sleeping in until 9, meal prepping, listening to podcasts/music, training, and coaching… all the things I love to do! I’m excited going to bed on a Sunday night, not scared. You shouldn’t be either.

You CAN sweat the small stuff.

Before I get started- side note- I had left this tab open on the computer and my dad happened to see it this morning  I guess. He went in and made that last blog post and posted it to my Facebook. I was super confused when I was getting Facebook notifications! I asked him, “Dad, did you post this?” and he said “Oh yeah that was me.” He definitely doesn’t know how a blog works, but I thought it was so cute and funny, I’m gonna keep it up there. 🙂

So today’s topic, something super familiar to me, something I deal with a lot. I’d love to explain my view on what being a “positive” person actually means; how it doesn’t look like what you’d typically think it looks like. In no way, shape, or form, do I have all the answers.. I just have a different sort of viewpoint on this topic than most, and I love to give people reading a different way of thinking about things.

You will never hear me tell someone “Don’t sweat the small stuff.”

It’s a pretty common thing to say to someone: “Don’t let it bother you.” “Don’t worry about it.” But, you will never hear me say it. Because honestly, it’s bogus.

A lot of people use this when they’re trying to change their behavior. They say, “I’m not going to let the little things bother me anymore” or “I’m going to have a more positive attitude.” We can read a million inspirational quotes that can truly make us feel like we want to be a better, more positive person. It’s easy to say you want to change your life and your mindset. But, as always, to take action, is really f*cking hard. And I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say, “Not letting the little things bother you” is almost impossible.

Being a positive person doesn’t mean being happy 100% of the time and never letting a thing get you down. It means not letting negative things and energy get the best of you. In the face of bad situations, hiccups, issues, mess-ups, and negativity, a strong, positive person chooses to rise above.

The key to this, I believe, is not “dwelling” for too long on something.

When I’m at work and someone is being an asshole at my table, yes I may roll my eyes as I walk away from the table. I might go in the back and bitch about it to a coworker. But, my life has changed since I decided to not let it ruin the rest of my night, or even the rest of time waiting on that table.

I still got annoyed, I still complained, but I moved on, relatively quickly. A few hours later or the next day it became a distant memory.

But, for about 10-15 minutes, I did let this guy at my table and his attitude with me occupy my mind. You may still consider my actions as “sweating” something small, or you may not.

I also believe it’s particularly difficult to not “sweat” small things when it comes to something you’re extremely passionate about.

When I’m in the gym, and my performance isn’t where I want it to be, I get upset. I’ve cried and throw temper tantrums (mini ones… unnecessary, I know). I work so hard and put so many hours into my training, it’s hard not to let it effect me mentally.

There can be so many different factors to deter performance for me on any given day: sleep, eating, hormonal changes, legit muscle fatigue, personal stuff. I know now that sometimes it’s out of my control, and most of the time as long as I know I put 100% effort in, that’s all I can ask of myself that day.

But, sometimes I get pretty upset. You know what though! I always, always bounce back. Give me 10 or 15 minutes and I’m laughing, smiling, joking again and moving onto the next part of my day. And, the whole experience has made me stronger.

Like I said, the key is to not dwell on the small stuff. When you love something, when it’s basically your life, your career, something you put your heart in, you are going to sweat even the smallest things. In reality, they’re all small things that combine together to make the big picture, which is your life. We are human. We are emotional beings. Some of us are such passionate people that we let that energy shine through in everything that we do. But you have to learn to let the small things go, or you will never get far.

I’m not here to tell you to always be smiling or to always be happy. I’m here to be honest with you.

Take a deep breath. Close your eyes. Give yourself a time-out. Envision the bigger picture. Bring back that big smile. And let that shit go!

 

“If it’s not going to matter in 5 years time, don’t spend more than 5 minutes on it.”