Loving the Skin You’re In, In a Capture Culture

I looked down. I saw the last few pictures of me. The pooch in my stomach had made its grand return to my body after a year and a half. It’s probably the aspect I’m the least fan of on my whole person. And to be completely honest in these moments I question if it was worth it. Was working endlessly and exhaustingly to gain wait in order to be healthier worth the pictures of feeling less than adequate? When every other aspect was a positive (energy, sleep, excitement, less anxiety, and looking better in general), I still struggled. And then it hit me.

Pictures.

Fifteen years ago, starting my competitive swimming career, I wore skin tight swimsuits on the daily to train and compete, yet the issues I have with my body then paled in comparison to today, wearing no such thing. But 15 years ago we weren’t obsessed with capturing every possible moment.

Let me preface this by saying I LOVE pictures, capturing special moments, learning how to crop, filter, set stages on an amateur level. However, I believe that it effects us, and not always in a positive way. So first,

Confessions:

  1. My engagement & wedding pictures really messed with my head. I didn’t like how I looked.
  2. Every single swim meet or function in college was captured, and I would immediately thumb through the albums and remove tags or hide them from my profile if they didn’t look good. If I was slouchy, poochy, or just the right angle happened to be on my arms a grimace would display on my face.
  3. There is anxiety after coming away from an event on what the pictures will look like, and being okay with them out in the open.

And some of you would say, gosh you’re being silly, you’re so small. But regardless, that’s how I feel and I know that people don’t look exactly like me or have been on the same journey, but we all have those moments and therefore we can all relate.

But here’s what I am learning and truly how I feel: Being healthy is important, but at the end of the day the stress and anxiety I was putting on what I looked like was out of control and my health declined rapidly. BUT GOD, made you uniquely beautiful and if you are doing the best you can for your body, loving it AND giving it grace, then you are exactly who He wants you to be and wants you to look like. Say it as many times as you have to, but let this truth sink in.

So everything fine now right? No. It’s a battle, but the confidence surrounding the results of many peoples prayers, hard work of eating more and eating right, and the older and wiser that have come alongside me, plus my the words my Creator and Savior have said over me are changing the narrative for how I view myself. So here are a few ways I think we can come together to help change the narrative for our capture culture:

  1. TALK. Some of those confessions above were hard to release to the wild, but I can’t be the only one. I am here as a sounding board if you ever need an ear, but find someone and don’t be afraid to talk about the hard stuff.
  2. WRITE. Write down truths about yourself and say them over and over to yourself. Sounds dorky and cliche, but it really does make a difference.
    1. You are a one of a kind, created in the image of God.
    2. You are capable of things you cannot even imagine, be kind to it.
    3. You aren’t defined by one snapshot
  3. BREATHE. Maybe you’ve found yourself in a spiral about how you look, your diet, not being enough, take a step back. No matter how busy you think you are, remove yourself from that space.  Walk, pray, journal put your mind at ease, and repeat those truths from above.
  4. THINK. This is two sided, but think before you snap and think before you post. While I LOVE photographs and remembering special moments – not every single minute needs to be captured, be ok putting the phone or camera down and just be present in the moment. You and the people around you will thank you!
  5. DANCE.  Find a dress and twirl sister because you are a stunner. Twirl and sing as much as you need to until you are laughing and crying because you are display of beauty and splendor. 

I’m preaching to myself just as much writing this, but this morning I got back from the November Project Atlanta Friday morning workout and looked down and I can truly say I was thankful for every inch of me and how He created me.

So bring on the pictures and love the skin you’re in.

Jordan

 

The “D” Word… Discipline

Discipline.

It can be the ugliest of words, because you know the potential of beauty it holds, but the painful steps it takes to get there. People don’t necessarily like discipline, they like routine. And if you can adjust routine just a bit then change will happen. Those two words can often get confused or used to mean the same thing. My argument – routine is just part of discipline and yes changing some things about it can influence discipline in different (and important) areas of life, it isn’t everything.

It’s a complicated equation that adds up to discipline and that’s usually why in the busyness of today’s culture we miss developing it  – usually there is a quicker solution to  patch the problem. No longevity, no consistency, no chance to see the real beauty that it holds.  So let’s dig into the ugly and talk through some real life ways to trudge through to the beauty that discipline holds, specifically in the areas of fitness and nutrition.

Disclaimer: Discipline does not mean obsessive. I have fallen into this category in the past, and am still learning just as much as everyone else, and if you find yourself there – talk to someone! Message me, reach out to someone! 

Fitness:

  1. You aren’t the only one. Yes you, text that friend, research groups or gyms in your area, invite someone. In most of the community around me people are constantly looking for people and places to help them get started. But it takes that two or three google searches or texting those two or three friends to actually press START.
  2. Goal set – seriously get a pen and paper with this person or persons above and write it down, put it where you can see it. What you want to accomplish, but also how!
  3. Try things out – try one thing a week, put a calendar reminder on your phone on a certain time every week to try something out until it clicks !
  4. Then write it down some more. Log your workouts and your progress, and check in with your counterparts.
  5. Set a reasonable alarm, or actually work on making space. Maybe you don’t go from 8am wake up calls to 4am, but if you started by twice a week waking up at 6:30a or even 7a to do a quick walk or small body weight circuit then that is step, and ANY step is a great step

Nutrition:

  1. Make it colorful and nutritious: berries, and greens, and sweet potatoes, and avocado on everything! Mix in some almonds, and carrots, and throw in some protein whether thats beans – vegan style – or chicken / fish. If you breakfast is grabbing a bar, wake up 10 minutes earlier to scramble an egg, grab a piece of fruit, and pop that piece of bread in the toaster. I promise it’s worth it, you’ll enjoy your food more and it will leave you feeling fuller!
  2. Just because you have a coupon doesn’t mean you should use it. Just because Chick Fil a is giving a free large waffle fry with mobile order doesn’t mean you cash in – on occasion of course, not if you’ve had Chick Fil a 3 days in a row. Just say no.
  3. Don’t leave food out on the counter for extended periods of time. I know it’s totally our culture to have all the food everywhere, but that’s a sure fire way to not watch what you eat.
  4. If you know you have a particular food you struggle with don’t keep it in the house. One of my biggest struggles is peanut butter, I love the gooey goodness but I’ve set parameters around only buying it so often so if I run out before my next pick up then I am out of luck. No your limits and no that that treats are actually treats and should NOT be staples in our week (like cupcakes).
  5. COOK: you never truly know what all goes into your food if someone else makes it. The good, the bad, the ugly.. so get into a habit of cooking the majority of the time. Try recipes, invite people over to cook together, experiment with colors, flavors, and actually attempt those 300 Pinterest recipes you pinned 5 years ago.
  6. Or… go to Whole Foods – I mean, because it’s Whole Foods.
  7. Portion Control – while I, admittedly, read food labels too much, they do suggest serving sizes on the back for a reason. Don’t get obsessive but don’t hesitate to do a little look just to see if you are in line with them.

It’s a journey that lasts a lifetime so put in the work to develop those disciplines now. There is no convenient or quick fix. It takes time and effort, but we are all doing this thing called being human together, and even from behind screens we all have things in common and can relate to one another. Be bold, and leverage relationships!

Summer Fueling + Fitness

Ya’ll we went for 40 to 90 degrees in a matter of days literally like 2 weeks and that two week period was rainy as mess. But here we are, I always remember the first few super hot and muggy runs of the season leave me feeling drained with head pounding as I adjust to the climate and my intake of electrolytes + water. So tidbit #1: this is okay for a day or two, but if the headaches continue you either need to adjust your fluids or hold back a bit. Heat exhaustion is a real thing yo.

But most importantly you can do more than you think you can, because you were created by the one who does immeasurably more always. Keep moving, stay healthy, you have so much purpose & potential

So a few of you wanted to know my favorite fueling products and nutrition habits, and also some fun summer activities (that are mostly free/low-cost). So here we go!

Favorite products for pre & mid-training and/or racing:

Nuun – I bet you could’ve guessed that one. I’m on year #2 of being an ambassador for #teamnuun and still wholeheartedly believe in the product.

Honey Stinger – This is year #1 as part of the #hshive and is always my go to pre race fuel! They have gluten free options and they sit lightly on your stomach. They also have gummy options if you are carrying while racing.

Favorite products for recovery:

Quest – A few years ago I tried their cereal bars and while they were good they didn’t beat out my go-to’s. However, at the Hotlanta Half Marathon (which is always amazing) they gave out ample amounts of free product and their Protein Bar with only 1g of Sugar was a huge hit for me. And yes it’s gluten-free !

Apple + PB Fit – And now you might be thinking what is with the powdered peanut butter? And isn’t it a pain? It’s a slight inconvenience, but all of us need a little bit more inconvenience in our life but for a good taste and super high protein with out feeling weighed down it’s a great option for being on the go!

Van’s Ancient Grains GF Waffles – Really I can actually sit and eat a whole box of these easily, but they are delicious and nutritious – it’s cliche but real. Add some PBFit on there and it’s quality recovery on the go

Disclaimer: None of these replaces an actual meal, and water is always the number one workout + recovery fuel! 

Other notables:

I like all the clean ingredients so a few other favorites are RxBar & Larabar – these are a little heavier and higher in sugar, but they are a great option for a quality snack.

Nutrition: What I’ve learned:

Over this past year nutrition has been a primary focus of mine. And one thing that always got me was how to add the fat + carbs without all the sugar. Now, I enjoy a cupcake, donut, or muffin just as much as the next person, but these should be an exception not a rule so here are a few ideas:

Limit your protein or snack bar intake: these are great for once a day or once every other day, but they are *typically* full of sugar and they don’t replace a meal.

Eat high protein: Jon and I go through eggs like it’s our job, but we also like to keep things like beans, nut butters, and regular nuts and seeds around that we have besides the familiar animal protein.

Healthy fats are friends: Not only do things like almonds contain protein and healthy fats, they are also great for keeping you satisfied, reducing cravings, and helping you sleep. Snacking on almonds and adding avocado/guac to everything are a great way to keep your fat level normal and healthy!

So let’s look at a normal day:

Breakfast –

a. Two egg scramble with veggies (tomatoes, green peppers, onions, and yes sometimes brussels b/c I love them), apple + nut butter, Vans Gluten-Free Ancient Grains waffle

b. Western Omelette with corn, black beans and salsa. Mixed fruit bowl w/ berries, honey, and lemon juice, and piece of toast.

Morning snack – 

a. Apple + Pb Fit and Low Sodium organic popcorn

c. Almonds + Carrots w/ hummus

Lunch –

a. Turkey Sandwich w/ Udi’s gluten free bread, tomato, mustard, and lettuce add some berries and/or dipping veggies for a complete meal!

b. Summer Salad – Lettuce, Pumpkin seeds, berries, grilled chicken, with a lemon vinigarette. Add some homemade Texas Toast, or a handful of chips and guac to get your carbohydrates covered. Just remember portions!

Afternoon snack – 

a. Any of the morning snacks

b. Snack bar with clean ingredients – see above for ideas!

Dinner – 

a. Tacos w/ shredded chicken spiced with red chili powder, garlic, salt, and pepper with roasted veggies, black beans and corn, and salsa on top! Don’t forget the chips and guac!

b. Chicken & Veggie Stir Fry with roasted chicken, veggies over brown rice

d. Burgers topped with all the fixings (go easy on the cheese if you please) and a summer salad (minus the chicken) and easy on the dressing.

Dessert/Snack – 

a. Trail Mix – My forever go to of almonds, popcorn, dried cranberries (low sugar), and chocolate

b. Anything dark chocolate – just take it easy 😉

If you want any of my specific recipe feel free to comment or reach out to me via social media! 

So now we play: Check Em Out this summer:

November Project Atlanta – FREE – Various workouts Wednesday & Fridays around Midtown – check out: https://www.facebook.com/novemberprojectatlanta/

Corepower Yoga on the Roof Series at Ponce City Market – $10 : https://www.facebook.com/events/2103039469985272/

Big Peach Running Co – Group Runs (all around the city) – FREE – https://www.bigpeachrunningco.com/group-runs/

Dekalb 4-miler (7/14) and The 680 The fan Tailage 5K (8/4) – FREE for ATC members and $10 for Non-members : https://www.atlantatrackclub.org/

Can’t wait to see you all out there this summer – if you have any questions let me know!

Jordan

The Art of Working Remotely & Finding the Right Coffee Shop

Trendy coffee shops have been around awhile, but this revolution of working remotely and the WiFi everywhere craze brings on a whole new meaning to the clientele that these coffee shops serve. Working from home is now a normal for me, and I find myself itching to check out more and more of these coffee shops I hear about from friends and the social media accounts that keep me up to date on the all things Atlanta.

But what makes a coffee shop suitable for work? Or just life in general? Why do some of these places make it and some do not? Here are just a few of the criteria I base when I head out and work:

  1. Friendliness – do the Baristas know the regulars? Do they engage and serve well.
  2. Environment – Is it a mix of chill & cheery? Do they have multiple seating options? And maybe even a standing bar option for people with back problems like me? And of course noise level is a big deal.
  3. Food & Drink offering – Obviously is the coffee good, but also in regards to sitting and working for hours, do they offer food that could be eaten throughout the day, do they offer snack foods (like a bar or piece of fruit)?

So let’s break down a few coffee shops around Atlanta, but remember, ultimately you have to prioritize what’s best for YOU.

Dancing Goats (Ponce City Market) –  TASTE WIN. Probably one of the first coffee shops I tried in Atlanta after moving back to the city in 2013. In regards to taste, this place is one of my favorites, their outside seating area is amazing, and the inside environment is a great mix of cozy and confident. The drawback: it’s always busy and the traffic around PCM is usually heavy so come at off times.

**There is also a Buckhead location of Dancing Goats I have yet to try – would love to hear your experience!

Taproom (Kirkwood) – NEIGHBORHOOD WIN. This is a newer experience for me, but I’m already in love with it. Kirkwood is Atlanta’s trendiest up and coming neighborhood (in my opinion). The environment says a lot as it represents Atlanta in a humble way. Big windows and lots of seating options give this one two thumbs up, plus their taste is an “A” so far.

Spiller Park Coffee (Toco Hills) – OFFERINGS WIN. Coffee taste is great, and the service is wonderful with the barista’s seeming to know the regulars and friendliness is at a high for new and normal alike. The environment is not my favorite for working remotely, with windows everywhere and the noise level at top volume, plus it’s not wonderful for those with back issues as all seats are low and wooden. However, their menu is extensive with all the yummy toast combos, and regular breakfast eats that can keep you fueled for quite awhile.

**There is also a Ponce City Market Location – if you have different notes about it let me know!

Mocha Moes (Flowery Branch) – ENVIRONMENT WIN. So this one is a haul from the city (my parents live close by), but it’s my favorite place to sit for several hours. The lighting and volume level are perfect, and they have every type of seating accommodation from tables and chairs, to couches and high tops. The taste and offerings are good as well. The drawback is the service, it could be a fluke in the times that I go, but they seem to always be different people scrambling in every direction.

East Pole (Lindbergh) – ALL AROUND WIN. Taste, friendliness + service, and environment, and location, this place (to me) has it all. Plus, they partner regularly with others for unique events in the city!

Other notables: Octane – Octane is a staple in Atlanta, and it’s great on all fronts, the biggest issue is proximity for me. Revelator – I’ve actually only been to a Revelator Coffee Co in Charleston, SC it’s great for a stop in and go, but not designed for a sit for hours and work day. Chattahoochee Coffee Company – has to be at the top for me but mostly for the life experiences I’ve had. Jon and I’s first kiss was on the lawn out back, so was our engagement, and Jon has numerous gigs with our friends, but again proximity for me is the challenge.

What would you add to the list? What is your favorite coffee shop in Atlanta?