Life is meant for LIVING.

“Don’t exist.
Live.
Get out, explore.
Thrive.
Challenge authority. Challenge yourself.
Evolve.
Change forever.
Become who you say you always will. Keep moving. Don’t stop. Start the revolution. Become a freedom fighter. Become a superhero. Just because everyone doesn’t know your name doesn’t mean you dont matter.
Are you happy? Have you ever been happy? What have you done today to matter? Did you exist or did you live? How did you thrive?
Become a chameleon-fit in anywhere. Be a rockstar-stand out everywhere. Do nothing, do everything. Forget everything, remember everyone. Care, don’t just pretend to. Listen to everyone. Love everyone and nothing at the same time. Its impossible to be everything,but you can’t stop trying to do it all. Make this moment your reckoning. Your head has been held under water for too long and now it is time to rise up and take your first true breath.” -Brian Krans
I have done some incredible things in my life. I have been to more countries than I have states, which has resulted in endless adventures. I have sky dived, cliff dived, been on a canyon swing, climbed Mayan Pyramids, and even swam in the Blue Grotto!
This past summer I backpacked through Germany, Austria, Belgium, and Spain- an experience that SHOULD HAVE topped them all. I don’t want to live my life with regret and though there are a few things I have done that I am not proud of, I also feel I learned a lot from them. My back packing experience, however, is probably my greatest regret.
I saw some of the most incredible cities and sites but I did not care- I let my anxiety take over my trip and I severely diminished the experience for both myself and (for the real reason I regret how I treated the trip) my brother. Even if part of the experience involved bad luck, I can not deny that the real problem was my bad attitude.
The previous summer I studied in Florence, Italy and had the best six weeks of my life. I had a very anxiety filled year leading up to that experience, but I still allowed myself to let loose and enjoy every moment of my trip. The attitude I upheld during my study abroad experience is the one I will carry with on all my travels from here on out. I want to live, experience, and thrive.
Life is too short to hold back and be bitter. There is so much to see and learn in this world and you simply will put a hindrance on living if you let a negative attitude determine your outlook. Smile and experience all that you can! Take risks, be bold, travel, and try to discover all you can about yourself and the world around you because chances are, you will like what you find!
And a quick montage of my travels the past few years (I don’t have many pictures from my back packing trip because my camera broke on the third day):
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The Perfect Weekend.

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

This weekend was so perfect it didn’t seem real. I took three days in a row off of work. I killed my Friday back workout.  I took Saturday as a much needed rest day. I destroyed legs on Sunday. I didn’t count macros. I ate healthy and not-so-healthy foods that I love and I am positive I met or exceeded my calorie goal of 2200.

I spent the entire weekend with my boyfriend (we didn’t get much time to relax together over Christmas break because he was busy studying for his CPA exam): we watched movies, went Costco sampling, had a party with friends, ate pizookies, went to incredible restaurants, and just RELAXED— a serious fairytale weekend.

I didn’t worry about if I was eating too much or too little. I didn’t care about if I looked “fat.” I was so far from self-conscious. I was simply comfortable with myself in the moment.

There is so much more to life than an obsession with size, weight, calories, and how much one can exercise. I love to workout. I really do, but when I don’t take to take the pressure our of working out—I begin to hate it. Last weekend I was dreading my workouts because I went too long without a rest day. I was working out because I felt like I had to and not because it was something I wanted to do. Since my rest day, I can honestly say I ENJOYED my workouts.

My point is life is about LIVING. Take time to enjoy the little things and spend time with the ones you love. Take time to focus on yourself sometimes and be sure to live in the present. 

Because you deserve it.

To my girls:

You are more beautiful than you know.

I know most days you wake up and see an ugly person, a fat person, a disappointing person. You want to be thinner, have more muscle tone, weigh less, have better abs, a bigger butt, smaller thighs. You feel that your progress isn’t worth it, that it is tedious, that it will destroy all you “worked” for. You think to yourself “I should eat less.” You finish with the gym and think “I could’ve done more.” You hear success stories, but you think, “but I am different. That wouldn’t work for me.” You want to stay positive, but you are filled with self-hate. You want to be happy, but you can’t feel anything but hopelessly sad.

I despise that you feel that way. Every time I feel like giving up on my progress, I think of you. I think of all those horrible feelings you are filled with and have to deal with everyday. I remember when those were the only things I felt. Now I have so much hope and happiness. I want that for you. You are worth so much more than how you treat yourself. I refuse to give up because I want you to know it is possible to move on. I want you to see that it can get better. I want you to love yourself. I want you to have bright future. I want your to care more about the things you love and are passionate about—things that bring you happiness and internal freedom—and less about whether you gain a few pounds.

I have spent the last 5 years in a horrible little bubble, where every other thought was centered on how low that number on a stupid square of plastic, metal, and rubber could go. Literally basing my happiness on how much I could minimize my force of gravity.

Well if that number means so much to you, do this little test. Weigh yourself. Drink a few glasses of water. Weigh yourself again. If your scale is accurate—you should weigh more. Did that water just make you fat? No.

If a friend came to you upset because she was working out all the time and gained a pound or two, would you say “I think you should eat less.” Or would you say : “You are still beautiful. It is muscle.“ “A couple pound really aren’t a big deal, you still look fabulous and healthy.”? You would give them encouragement, because you know those few pounds really don’t matter. Until they happen to you. Take your own advice.

Beyond that, there is size. I am a bigger size now than I was. I no longer wear the same size I wore when I was 14. Which is supposed to happen. Your body prepares itself to bear children. You may develop hips, boobs, and a butt. It’s natural and healthy. You may start to see some fat getting stored on your stomach, legs, and hips. And that is fine! It’s not what you may want initially, but it’s all about perspective. If you don’t shake off that desire to be as skinny as possible, then you will always see yourself as “fat.”

Let it go. I plead you to go and look in the mirror and tell yourself you are beautiful. Look at all those “flaws” that you have always been self conscious about and smile at them. They are part of the details that make you the wonderful person that you are.

You are priceless. You deserve unlimited happiness. You are an individual and I want you to see just how incredible that is.

Love yourself and treat yourself right— you deserve that much.

Much love,

Tracy

Post Script: I wrote this because of a few wonderful women I have talked to recently, but I wrote this for everyone who forgets their true value.

 

 “Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.” -C.S. Lewis

Affirmations

This is literally something I wrote to myself this morning when I looked in the mirror and didn’t like what I saw:

I have gained weight.

I could definitely be skinnier.

I big part of me wants to cut back on calories to get smaller.

I find myself not fitting into most of my smallest sizes.

I am scared.

BUT, this is a process.

I am beginning to adjust to this new body.

I have more muscle than ever.

I have a bountiful booty. (okay, maybe not bountiful, but I do have a booty)

I have boobs again.

I get to go and eat at my favorite restaurants.

My social anxiety is disappearing.

I am more confident.

I have more self-love days than self hate.

I smile more.

My hair is thicker.

I don’t have bags under my eyes.

I cry less.

My smiles are real.

I don’t get psychotic mood swing triggered by meaningless little things.

I am more alert.

My relationships have improved.

I am more open.

I feel like me again.

At this point I got up, walked back over to the mirror, and saw the same girl as I did before I wrote this. She is bigger than she was last year. She may never fit into those little jeans she bought when she was 14 again. But this time, instead of frowning at this new girl—I smiled because I was finally smiling at me again. I was proud of what I saw, even if I am still getting used to the new view.

 

I am sorry if I am beginning to sound like a broken record in my posts, but this is my open, honest journey. 🙂 

A Day without Numbers

Yesterday, after my pre-breakfast snack, I spontaneously decided to not count my macros and just eat intuitively (no I have not read the book on intuitive eating, however, I do want to). I wanted to reassure myself that all my progress wasn’t based on a little app that tracks everything I eat and the goal macro percentages that I want to hit. I was not trying it out to stop counting, because I still have not reached my goal amount of calories (2400 a day), I just wanted to know how I would feel on a day without counting.

Well I felt:

  • anxious
  • excited
  • afraid
  • proud
  • gluttonous
  • lazy (in a relaxed sort of way– the good lazy)
  • mad
  • happy

I could go on, but you get the point. Yesterday was weird for me, but nothing I couldn’t handle.

I ate a breakfast that was nearly twice as big as I usually eat, but I didn’t have a morning snack. My afternoon was fairly normal- lunch was roughly the same as usual and I had a couple snacks like I usually do. I definitely splurged at dinner when I went to one of my favorite restaurants, Cornish Pasty Co., with my boyfriend and his family. I seriously don’t know how to describe exactly what it is that I got without taking people there, but I will do my best. It is essentially a gourmet hot pocket. It is a flakey pastry (not sweet, almost croissant like) filled with a whole assortmant of different foods. There are “pasties” such as: tikka misala, portobello chicken, Greek, Italian, or my personal favorite, “The Pilgrim.”  Mine is essentially Thanksgiving dinner wrapped up in a pastry. Here is a picture of the item I got:

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Not healthy, totally unknown calories, 100% enjoyable. I can safely say, I don’t regret one bite (and trust me, I ate it all).

I usually do everything in my power to avoid the place because I get anxious about all the unknown calories in the food. But I didn’t last night and I don’t plan on avoiding it anymore. It doesn’t mean I will have it all the time, but life is far too short to intentionally neglect eating the things we love, all the time. 

The rest of my evening was fairly low key: I went to the gym (and did a slightly shorter workout than usual), had my proyo and an apple, hung out with friends and drank a beer (gasp!), munched on a few goldfish because I was hungry, and went to bed.

I woke up this morning and the only thing different about me or my body was the twinge more confidence I have, knowing I can safely say I am no longer a slave to the calories.

Having fat doesn’t make you fat.

“Fat shouldn’t be an adjective. It is a noun, its human, and its healthy.”

I have fat on my thighs. And it’s beautiful. I’m proud of the fat on my thighs. Many people may think it’s disgusting, but I know it’s a sign that I’m healthy. It’s a sign that I am going to live an amazing life. It is part of my unique figure. It represents my internal strength. The fat on my thighs does not mean I don’t work out. It does not determine who I am or if I’m in shape. I’m in the best shape of my life and I have fat on my thighs. And it is beautiful. 

I posted this on my Instagram account with a few pictures because somebody had told me they wanted my “abs” and to get them they were going to eat less (and this person was already not eating quite enough). This disturbed me. That is the last reason I created my account.

My genetics play a key role in the facts that I have visible abs. Can everyone have “popping” abs? No. If someone doesn’t have abs, does that mean they aren’t in shape? Absolutely not. We are all so different, but that does not mean we aren’t all beautiful. I have thighs that will never be perfectly straight or show all my muscles. I will always have a store fat on the inside of my thighs. It didn’t leave my body when I was at 10% body fat and its not going to leave my body now. I am okay with that. In fact I love that. It is part of who I am. And I love who I am. I love that I am so happy with who I am that I can grab any place I have fat and say that I am happy its there. I know I only show “glorified” pictures of my body on my Instagram, but that is because I do work very hard and I do like to show my body in its best light. But my body is so far from perfect. I don’t have back dimples or a thigh gap. If I hunch over or lean to the side my stomach has rolls. And I love that. It is part of who I am. I am learning to love the human experience, flaws, fat, and all.

It didn’t quite go as planned.

“I cannot always control what goes on outside. But I can always control what goes on inside.”

Today I woke up early, went to a group weight class at my gym at 5:30, went to my three back-to-back classes starting at 7:30, got out at 11:45, went to work, and I had planned to come home and run 6 miles.

Well that didn’t quite go as planned.

I tweaked my knee 8 days ago after my first 8 mile run in over 3 months. Since then I have worn my knee brace, slowed down my running pace, and taken it easier with my leg workouts. Last night when I arrived at the gym I realized I had forgotten my brace, but I completed my interval-training workout on the treadmill anyways. I tried to complete a leg workout after, but my knee was in too much pain so I left.

This morning, my knee was aching throughout the weight class even though I was wearing my brace, but I was still determined to run tonight. I got home from work and confirmed my plans to run with my friend. As the run approached, I asked myself why I was so determined to run despite the pain. I immediately thought “because I am eating so much.” And my reaction if I didn’t run? Eat less at dinner.

I kid you not, those were my immediate reactions. And I thought I was doing so well.

At 2200 calories a day, I am still eating below a maintenance level for my height, weight, and activity level (assuming my workouts are 60 minutes long I should be eating almost 2400, but in reality my workouts are usually at least 90 minutes and I am still working on increasing calories). I worked out for an hour already today. Yet I still felt the need to either run or eat less. Old habits die hard.

But if I have learned anything in the last few months, it is that just because I can’t control what goes on around me, doesn’t mean I can’t choose how I handle it. Last year, if I hadn’t been able to run, I would have had lettuce and salsa for dinner. Tonight I didn’t run and I thoroughly enjoyed my turkey tacos, rice, beans, and veggies all topped with a little bit of lettuce and followed up with a tasty treat!

Things will not always go the way we planned— whether they be small things like me not being able to run today or things with a greater impact—but we control how we handle those changes. I know now, we can choose who we want to be. I choose not to be a slave to calories consumed and calories burned. I choose to listen to my body. And I choose to be healthy, happy, and to properly love and nourish myself.

 

 

 

Post script: this is not my original draft. The first time I wrote this my computer deleted it all. I literally wrote a post called “It didn’t quite go as planned.” And it got deleted. I don’t like this version quite as much, but I am not going to let the little things get me down. I did my best with the rewrite and I hope you all enjoyed reading. 

Forgiveness

“People can be more forgiving than you can imagine. But you have to forgive yourself. Let go of what’s bitter and move on.”

I was writing an email to a friend that I met through my “fitfam” talking about my experiences the past few months and I realized what has pushed me forward the farthest was forgiving myself.

Growing up, we are taught the importance of saying, “I’m Sorry” and forgiving those who apologize to us. With all the anxiety and crazy emotions that have followed me around for last five years and even more amplified in the last year, I did my fair share of lashing out. And I have had to ask for a lot of forgiveness from those who were at the other end of it (most frequently my incredible and endlessly supportive boyfriend)– forgiveness was always granted to me.

But each time I lashed out, I disliked and blamed myself that much more. 

The moment I knew I had moved into the “next chapter” of my life that I life to refer to, was the moment I told myself, “It’s okay.” Because sometimes we are ready to be healthier and stronger than ever, there is just that one final barrier. This was mine:

It’s okay that you hurt yourself. It’s okay that you tried to recover and failed once, twice, three times, or more. It’s okay that you let your fears define your social life for months or years. It’s okay that you became so self-centered that you didn’t realize how your actions affected others. It’s okay that you are scared of the future. It’s okay that you fear things that are really so small. It’s okay that you hurt people around you. It’s okay that you lost sight of what’s really important. It’s okay. It’s not good, but it’s okay and I forgive you.

I was so sorry that I had done everything I had done, but I never actually forgave myself. And that was my liberating moment. Forgiveness is a powerful thing, especially when we are strong enough to forgive ourselves for our own wrong doings. The past is the past- it will always be a part of us, but it should not stop us from defining our own bright future.

“Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future.”

 

A Day in the Life of Tracy’s Stomach

I get quite a few questions about what I eat in a day to fill all 2200 calories so I thought I would post a couple typical days. The pictures from My Fitness Pal, my food tracking app, are not accurate in the order I eat my food. I am horribly lazy when inputing things so I input in ways that take the least amount of time I.E. If I had something for dinner last night and I was eating it for lunch today, I would input it in the dinner column because it is in my recent foods there.

Anyways here are the picture from my food log two days ago:

Screen Shot 2014-01-09 at 11.08.18 AM Screen Shot 2014-01-09 at 11.08.42 AM

 

And now a timeline of a day in the life of Tracy’s stomach:

8:30 am– wake up and eat a bowl of proats (protein oatmeal) or oat bran protein pudding with my coffee

9:45 am– breakfast round two- usually a bowl of cereal or greek yogurt with fruit

10:30 am– a quest bar

12:00 pm– lunch: leftovers from the night before

1:30 pm– lunch 2: a salad with a veggie burger or and egg white and veggie scramble

3:30 pm– snack: a PB&J, apple and peanut butter, something with carbs and fats

6:00 pm– dinner: protein (sometimes with carb AKA a whole wheat bun), veggies (steamed frozen veggie mixes), carbs/ starch (roasted potatoes, corn, corn bread)

8:30-9:15 pm– THE NIGHTTIME CARBS AFTER DARK EXTRAVAGANZA! Seriously 300 grams of carbs is kind of hard to fill. Usually I have a lot of fat left over too. Lately I have not had much protein leftover. So my night time snack have included: apple with peanut butter, toast with peanut butter and jelly, alternative bagel and cream cheese, slow churned ice cream, frozen yogurt, cereal, etc.

My all time favorite way to fill my macros (I kid you not, this is proof that I am a health nut at heart) is with greek yogurt, fruit, and bran cereal. But like I said, I just haven’t had enough protein left over to do that!

Everyone fills their Macros differently. Some indulge, some keep it clean. I genuinely prefer “clean” options, but with a boyfriend who likes a lot of carbs with his dinner and limited time to prep food– staying totally unprocessed (like I would like) is just not entirely conceivable to me. I still keep my sodium consumption low and I stay away from hydrogenated oils. But I am also not afraid to end my night with a scoop of low fat, slow churned, ice cream.

Its like a diet, except instead of eating less, you keep eating more….

I realize my post last night didn’t talk about HOW I got to 2200 calories a day and the answer is reverse dieting. I hope this answers more of your questions, if it doesn’t and I forgot anything then feel free to comment or email me! I will do a workout post soon, but to give you an idea- before I started reverse dieting I mainly ran, when I first started reverse dieting I did upper body workout about 4 times a week, and now I workout 5-6 days a week with a big mishmash of cardio and weights.

I started my instagram promoting a clean and active lifestyle. But little did I know that clean and active did not necessarily mean healthy. And my lifestyle (though I was in denial of it) was FAR from healthy.

I love to run and I was running about 30-35 miles a week in September. I get a huge runner’s high and I really feel like I’m on top of the world after a good, long run. Well back in September, I felt on top of the world and I was exhausted. Why? Because I never wanted to go over the forbidden 1200 calorie mark UNLESS I ran 8-10 miles that day. Then I allowed myself to hit 1400-1600 AND I FELT GUILTY. WHAT?! I literally burned nearly 1000 calories just from a run and felt guilt about eating a big breakfast of dry wheat toast, egg whites, and a some breakfast potatoes.

Let me break down exactly why that is so ridiculous (using rough estimates):

1600—approximate number of calories I consumed ON A TEN MILE RUN day

(1000) – approximate number of calories burned on the run

(1000)—approximate number of calories burned by literally being alive

(800)—approximate calories burned with day-to-day activities

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(1200)—calorie deficit. And that was my absolute highest calorie day.

Was I losing weight? No. Was I gaining definition? No. Was I skinny? Yes. Did I have abs to show for my hard work? Eh… More like a little pouch and some ribs.

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My body was in a starvation mode of sorts, which I figured out when I started seeing people who were reverse dieting on instagram with “IIFYM” or “If It Fits Your Macros.” I was intrigued so I did some research and this is one of the best articles I found:

http://www.myfitnesspal.com/topics/show/208407-how-to-repair-a-damaged-metabolism-stavation-mode- this is an article by Tom Venuto who is a well respected nutrition coach and author- he also has a great website: www.bunthefatblog.com — with interesting health articles.

But despite the success stories on Instagram and my research- I was still hesitant about eating more. Then tragedy (in my self-absorbed, little world- more about that later) struck. I tore my quad in three places. I couldn’t run at all. My little happy pill was gone. I was so afraid I was going to gain weight and restrict and go back to the days where I ate 1000 calories or sometimes well under that in a day.

I have always said I don’t want to make myself a victim of circumstance. I am a fighter. I went through a lot of things in high school, but I wouldn’t let it get to me. It wasn’t truly a bad day if I could still manage at least one smile. I realized when I got injured I was victimizing myself. The last thing I ever wanted to do and I was ready to take action. I had far too many things in my life to smile about to let a little injury get in my way of happiness!

I decided not being able to do cardio was the perfect time to start reverse dieting and start weight lifting. I started at 1650 calories because that was the absolute highest I was comfortable eating and I was full ALL THE TIME! But I also got to eat more fun foods and I really didn’t feel too guilty because I kept telling myself “It’s a process.” Before I knew it (literally within a week), 1650 didn’t keep me full so I upped to 1700 and then to 1750 and then to 1800. By that time I was able to start running short distances again and my weight workouts were drastically increasing. I was feeling pretty dang good.

I had been taking progress pictures and realized my abs were better than ever and I actually had arm muscles! I was still fitting into my little sizes even though I had gained some weight (it was all muscle). I upped again to 1850 and started running up to 3 miles a day (it started will ½ a mile a day).

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(pardon the bra :/)

After Thanksgiving, finals hit and I stopped working out, did a lot of stress eating, and ate a lot of processed junk without much sleep. I had clearly gained a bit of fat weight in those couple weeks and my initial reaction was “RESTRICT RESTRICT RESTRICT!” But then I took a step back and gave myself a very stern talking to,

“Tracy what the actual f**k. You have come so far. You are so much stronger and happier than you were. Since when are you the little b**ch that makes yourself a victim of circumstance? Answer: you’re not. SO SNAP OUT OF IT! You have this entire break to get back in shape and get stronger than ever. Let’s not take the stupid and easy route of restricting and undoing all the profgress. Challenge yourself! BREAK THE 2000 BARRIER!!!”

“uh… that’s kind of scary…”

“says the girl who has jumped of cliffs, into canyon, and out of planes.”

“you’re right Tracy! I’m a badass b**ch who is about to start eating 2000 calories a day!”

^Yup, I do have conversations with myself.

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(my body after two weeks off, not too shabby! my abs were still better than when I was eating 1200 a day!!)

Anyways, I decided on 2000 because my body was used to 0 workouts and lots of bad calories the weeks leading up to that moment and I figured it could handle 2000 good calories a day with lots of added workouts.

And boy was I right! Not only did I have tons of energy to smash my workouts, I also felt SO freed from a calorie intake that I feared for literally years (since I was like 13 or 14)!

In the first week I lost two pounds. And it no longer kept me full. I upped to 2100 and on Christmas Eve and Christmas day, I indulged without binging or restricting or guilt.

The day after Christmas, I looked in the mirror after eating 1000 calories within 4 hours of waking up. I looked at my little food baby (that was surrounded by some slightly popping muscles) and I SMILED. I realized I had been liberated from guilt over food and self hate. I realized I was free to enjoy this remarkable existence that I have. I realized I was truly, genuinely happy. I realized I had started the next chapter of what I know will be an amazing life.

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(my day after Christmas body and happiness)