Be More

Life update: I have a day and a half left of my internship, start my new “real” job on Monday, and my tan is approximately at 7% of last years. Office life probs.

This summer has come with a lot of reflecting and looking ahead. I’ve struggled to find the “why” behind my discontent- why do I feel the need to constantly “be productive”? Not saying that this is a bad thing- I LIKE being productive and feeling busy. The issue I’m currently running into is…what am I training for? What do I have to be productive towards?

I read a blog post from one my favorites the other day, and she summed it up perfectly: “I am a do-er, not a perfectionist”. I am not one to nit pick on every single little detail, but am I am one that loves to look at the big picture. That involves creating training schedules that don’t account for stretching and foam rolling (or sleep), and always feeling AMAZING after a yoga class but never making the time to go.

My entire life I have been an athlete, and I have been fortunate enough to train hard and to travel the continent and excel in a high-performance setting. And as positive as I tried to be throughout the ordeal, breaking my foot scared the crap out of me. It’s been six months, and it still makes me angry and it still makes me sad that I didn’t get the opportunity to perform at my peak, as this season was by the far the best I have ever felt with my diving. I spent the rest of the winter doing rehab and competing on painkillers, spent all spring recovering and then training for Nationals. After a perfectly average, nothing outstanding Nationals performance, I’ve spent the whole summer working out to feel “back in shape”. I was/am convinced that my physical conditioning after the broken foot was the worst it’s been in years (which I completely understand comes with the territory of injury). I am not a dainty athlete- my strength in diving has always been my power over my technique or “rip” (entering the water without a splash). To have that taken away felt like a much bigger blow than it needed to be because that certain injury took away everything I was “good” at. I had to rely on the things I wasn’t as good at to get me through and I couldn’t stand it.

This summer, I have been getting up at 5:30am and working out before I had to go to the office, or would go straight to the gym from work if I didn’t make it before 8am. I don’t even have a meet to train for yet, as next years nationals haven’t been posted but I am assuming my next competition will be between December and February. And honestly? I am back “in-shape” at this point. I can squat, I can run, I’m doing just fine. And yet, the discontent remains. That burn is still there, lingering, from when I felt “out of shape”.

I am not training to be in shape anymore- I am training out of fear of feeling weak. It’s not always positive and it’s not always fun, and I’ve complained to my Dad about not wanting to become a cookie-cutter health blogger because I am not someone who goes to gym to do Pinterest workouts and writes running playlists (I will write about food however, 10/10 times). I want to be a force of nature. I want to be a hurricane of an athlete- strong and fierce, not weak and afraid.

I want to push myself, in every way possible. I want to surpass my standard of feeling “in shape”. I want to attempt harder dives, and lift heavier, and run further. I want to do more and be more and really see what I can do- what I’m capable of as an athlete. I am feeling that motivation to train harder, smarter, and to pay more attention to my nutrition and recovery.

Another quote from that same favorite blogger sealed the deal for me today: “You have to do decide who are to be, and just be it”. You cannot wait for Monday or next season or when you lose ten pounds to declare you are “starting”. This is life- you have already started. If you want to do something, train for something, be something, just go be it.

With that in mind, I’m on a mission. To do more and be morestay tuned.

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Let’s Be Real

Let’s discuss some facts here:

  • I’ve gotten REALLY good at meal prepping. Like, it only took a month and it’s second nature now to pack all my meals ahead of time. While I’ve learned that I get sick of things if I eat them for a week straight, I’ve figured out a good cook-three-times-a-week system
  • I just celebrated a birthday! I was fortunate enough spend my birthday road tripping, experiencing a city I’ve never been to (Woooooo St. Louis) and getting to see TRAIN with Matt Nathanson and The Fray in concert!
  • The blog has gotten boring

The blog has gotten boring because I feel like I’ve hit a rut- not with writing or anything in itself but just a general RUT. Warning, rant ahead.

Exactly a year ago I was leaving to spend a month in Vietnam, teaching English and coaching soccer, without knowing a single other person there. I felt like a made a difference, even though I didn’t see how at the beginning, and I learned a ridiculous amount about myself and the world. After that I had my final year of college and college eligibility to look forward to- all the highs and lows and every glorious moment in between.

Currently, my life is working full time and working part time and working events on and off. While I comprehend how much I am learning in a professional capacity, and how fortunate I am to have an internship (and a job immediately following) right after graduation, I’m not feeling that spark of excitement and nerves. I’m feeling a mild buzz of excitement that accompanies wanting to do a great job and learn and excel- but am I really pushing my boundaries? Am I in a role that requires the characteristics I utilized in Vietnam, like thinking on my feet or simply adapting to my surroundings?

I find myself coming home from the office, day after day, and spending hours researching graduate programs, or international volunteer opportunities, or various certifications. I’m in all-in kind of person, and I’m struggling with finding “hobbies”. I don’t know how to “dabble” in things at all. If I run 3 miles one day I imagine training for a marathon. I’ve already made a spreadsheet comparing various Master degree programs, and yet another spreadsheet for international opportunities. I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing unless I’m doing it 110%.

So I come home and I write about what I packed for lunch that day because I am too indecisive to write about anything else. Before all my spare time (outside of training and class) was dedicated towards job hunting and preparing for camp. Check and check. Instead of feeling relaxed that there’s less on my plate I’m finding myself scrambling, looking for ways to better myself or create something tangible. I get so frustrated that I don’t come home at night and am super productive but I don’t even know what I would be doing with my productivity. Side note: I complain to my boyfriend that my morning workouts aren’t as long as I want them to and that I wish I was writing more and cooking more in the evenings and he responses by asking me why I feel like I have to be productive from 5:30am-10pm?

Constantly I find myself going over the possibilities: I could train for a marathon which would be a real challenge because I suck at running. I could apply to graduate school if I ever decided on what school is a good fit (I’m pretty set on what program is for me at least) (and figured out how to pay for it). I could book a flight to somewhere half way around the world just to feel like I’m nervous about something again. Nervous about a performance or an outcome that I have 100% control over, like how prepared I am for a competition or how adaptable I can be in a new role.

To quote my own speech to the Athletic Department last February, “I’ve learned that I can do hard things. That I can do seemingly crazy things…Leap, and the net will appear. Just jump and you can figure it out on the way down.”

“I am saying yes, to every opportunity, and trusting that I will be okay”

I am an “all-in” kind of person, but what happens when I want to do everything? When I find myself standing on the edge of whatever opportunity I choose to pursue, and I simply can’t decide what to do because I want to do all. I WANT to say yes to every opportunity- sign up for races and write a book and start a business.

I think what I’m trying to say is that I’m bored, and I don’t want to “try” things. I want to find a thing, and throw myself into it. I want a goal, or an end point, and I want to struggle and complain and find a way to get there because as it turns out that’s what I love. Working 40 hours a work in an office and 20 hours a week retail has taught me that I thrive on the idea that success is entirely based on my preparation. I need a moment, or an event, where all the work can be displayed. Where all the work is apparent and the success of that venture is a direct result of your hustle and your commitment to the goal.

My entire life I have been in school or training for a competition or applying to jobs. I’m not feeling nervous about anything upcoming, and that is perhaps the most unsettling and unfamiliar feeling I could imagine.

Dreams QuoteEnd rant.

Weekly Recap One

So this summer, like last summer, and probably a dozen more times in my life, I put as many things on my plate as I could possibly handle. It’s like in diving when we say “heave and believe” (or another fond saying that rhymes with “___ it and chuck it”), I’m sort of just throwing myself into the process and hoping I come out alright on the other side.

My internship started June 1st (!!!!) and I went back to retail part time on June 2nd. Sounds innocent enough, until it sinks that I’m working 63 hours a week with a 20-45 minute commute. Uhhh. Whoops.

Anyways, this blog isn’t to complain because I’m excited for everything thats going on, but I think I’m going to throw together a post every week to evaluate how I did in regards to workouts and meal prepping! Every Sunday this summer I’ll be writing about how the past week went, getting into detail about how committed I am to get back in shape- lifting heavy and running 3 miles like it’s nothing. I’m a big believer in you don’t find time you MAKE time, so even though I am never at home and don’t have a day off scheduled till July 3rd, I’m determined to make this summer one of the best yet.

This weeks result? Probably a B-

I am SO proud of myself in regards to the past week because I got up between 5:30am and 6am to get my workout done every single day (Monday through Saturday, six days total, Sunday rest day). My new lifting schedule calls for three days a week, so I lifted Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday (I held off Friday because I wasn’t sure if a friend was going to join me or not). Tip for planning weekend workouts: Check summer hours! I got there for my Saturday lift at 6:30am only to find out the gym wasn’t open till 7 :( I ended up doing my whole warm up and jump circuit outside, which in retrospect was kind of nice, so that way I could be starting my squat set right at 7, BUT STILL. I ran Tuesday and Thursday, although Thursday I was running late and only made it through 25 minutes, and Friday I did the Stairmaster and some light lifting. Right now my schedule revolves around getting in the shower at 7:10am, stretching and foam rolling with the team while they get ready for practice 7:30-8am, doing hair and make-up, then walking out the door to drive to the office at 8:15am

Where I struggled a little bit this week was meal prepping. It’s actually a little comical, I’ve given up my normal lunch bag for a cooler I keep in the trunk of my car. I did a great job with cooking chicken, asparagus, baking blueberry oatmeal protein muffins, and washing/chopping raw veggies on Sunday. The only thing is I didn’t get around to was the sweet potatoes and zucchini, very aware I had no time to cook them during the week. Only one day did I not pack enough food and had to buy a meal out (Tuesday night, first day back at retail when I left the house at 6am and got back at 11pm), which is a bonus as I’m trying to not buy anything fast food this summer (not that I did much anyways, but I was guilty of picking up a granola bar instead of having one in my bag some days- I did stop for a Quest bar when I got gas on day as well!). The truth is I really just got bored with my food choices- while I was so excited to have cooked plenty on Sunday, by the time Thursday and Friday rolled around I was so bored of chicken, carrots, apples/bananas, and lame salads (read: greens, asparagus, and dressing) that I wasn’t looking forward to anything I packed. Thank goodness for that Quest bar on Saturday between practice and work at 10 or I would have been losing my mind!

Goals for next week: more variety in my meal prepping, and pick out CLOTHES for the whole week. The most annoying thing when I was getting ready for bed every night was having to pick out a gym outfit and an office outfit. I’m sure I could plan all of those out in advance as well, just like my food, and it would save me a world of annoyances.

Anyways folks, happy Sunday! Thanks for slogging through the long first week recap. If you have any great tips for meal prepping, comment below and I will take them to heart! I’m off to work from 10am-6pm today, and then it’s grocery shopping, cooking, and hopefully a load of laundry until I face plant into bed (ideally around 10:30pm- we’ll see!)

Sunday Quote

2015 Grind

I love planning. I’m a big planner, making to-do lists, brainstorming activities. Every September at the beginning of the school year (and the college season), we dig deep to find those goals that will push us to better than we were before. Every May at the beginning of the summer, we do the same, and of course January 1st is the classic time to kick off new challenges.

There are plenty of things I’m looking forward to this year- goals included. What a better (and cliched) way to kick off 2015 on the blog by looking at some of the things I intend to work towards this year?

Graduating with two degrees this May. After five years of college, I’ll be walking across the stage at Carver Hawkeye Arena with a Bachelors of Science in Recreation and Sport Management, and a Bachelors of Art in Ethics and Public Policy from the University of Iowa. I was not one of those people who knew what they wanted to do their whole lives, and I transitioned majors and classes and professors while finding out what I loved. While technically this a goal, I only have one class left for each degree so 99% of the work is done!

Top 8 at the Big Ten Championships and NCAA Zone D Championships. Top 8 make the championship finals at Big Tens, and while top 18 make finals at Zones top 8 is still the goal. In my college career, I have come 9th on every event possible- my sophomore year on platform, and my junior year on 1m and 3m on back-to-back days. It sucks and it stings to be 9th. I’m ready. That’s what I’ve been working towards for two years now. There are only three months left in my collegiate athletic career (eek!!) and I want to finish to the best of my ability.

Get a real world pull up your big girl panties kinda job. While my college career might be ending soon, I’m still looking to train for the 2016 Olympic Trials. To do so means job hunting in the Iowa area for a bit- like REAL job hunting, not just a part-time summer job kind of gig. I’m excited. I’m terrified. I’ve been told both of those emotions are normal.

Extra- FINISH a Tough Mudder! A close friend of mine did a few of them this year and I obsessed at how cool they sounded. While I contemplating doing one in October, I choose to hold off and take the summer of 2015 to train for it (also won’t interfere with the diving season!). While I haven’t selected a date or location yet, I’m all giddy at the thought of it. I’m also looking at the Spartan Race series or the Warrior Dash just to make sure I’m selecting a race date that’s a good location and not too far away. Who knows maybe I’ll get in more than one event even :)

Leave a link to your posts about your 2015 goals! Happy January 1st my loves I hope everyone started the year on a strong note!

14 Things on Reflecting 2014

New Years is one of my favorite holidays- always has been and always will be. What other holiday promotes staying up late and drinking champagne, plus goal setting and working to better yourself? It’s the best of both worlds. There are many things to look forward to in 2015…but first and foremost I plan on kicking in the New Year properly (psssst, check back on January 1st when I take a look at the upcoming year!)

Last year I wrote this post, one of my favorites, on my Top 13 Moments from 2013. While I assumed I would take the same approach this year for my year in review, this year was different in so many wonderful and strange ways. There was a lot more change in 2014 than there was in 2013. Can I list 14 moments? In a heartbeat. In an instant, and I will, but there was a lot that went on this year that can’t be shortlisted. (Fair warning: there’s a touchy feely rant ahead. Impatient? Scroll down for the shortlist).

In 2014, I got incredibly lost. I fell and I stumbled and I screwed up, however I did it without panicking. I doubted all sorts of big decisions. I took more risks, and not always fun ones. I thought too much and overanalyzed things and (big surprise) it bit me in the butt. The year did not go according to plan, but that’s okay. I didn’t anticipate such a shift within me, when everything around me was new and unfamiliar. You simply can’t shortlist the ways you change and develop and grow as a person when you’re trying to find your footing in unknown territory, both figuratively and literally. It’s not like I woke up one day and decided “okay this is the new me.” There was never a new me and old me, it’s always been just Lauren. We are made, especially in this time of our lives, to be fluid and to expand and develop- that does not mean we have new and old personas but have simply altered our values and the direction we want our lives to go in. That is not a bad thing, and I spent the fall of 2014 convinced that it was. I had this idea that whatever was happening in my head and my heart was a negative, and I fought it, and I felt so horribly guilty for so much of that time because I simply wished I felt like I did before. Change is necessary, sometimes a necessary evil, and I feel sad that I spent so much time consumed with guilt about the natural progression of things.

2014 was the year of change. I changed apartments, I changed room mates, I entered my final year of college, and travelled constantly all summer. After the summer (where I’m sure if you’ve been around you remember my blogging *cough cough* sucked), where I practically lived out of my car for weeks working at camps in Iowa and Indiana, spending another incredible weekend in Chicago, and then traveling to Vietnam for a month, settling back into life as a student-athlete seemed impossible. While going through the motions seemingly helped, nothing truly got rid of that guilty feeling like embracing the change. Embracing the chaos. Becoming comfortable with my uncomfortable new reality.

New Years Quote

My motto for 2015

I am not dictated by my surroundings. I am the same girl that stayed up till Midnight December 31st, 2013- the same girl that ran a 10km (and cried) in April is the same girl that stood on mountain tops in Vietnam and Canada in August. I am comfortable but not content; happy but not satisfied. I’ll probably set New Years Resolutions like the majority of the population, and reach only a few of them (like the majority of the population). To be honest, I couldn’t even tell you what my resolutions for 2014 were! Whatever they may have been, I leave the year in a good place. I am happy, and am no longer overanalyzing the risks and rewards of life (okay, for the most part. I am a college girl still- overanalyzing is what we’re best at). And without further ado, in no particular order…

14 Top Moments of 2014

1. My two best friends, who have been there since that first day of college, came to Canada this past May. We flew from Chicago to Calgary and spent the week with my family, in the mountains, seeing the city, meeting my old friends. The three of us have been inseparable for the past four and a half years and the week was such an amazing tribute to that. From when we first bounced around the idea in the fall, to it actually coming to fruition, it was more than I could have asked for to show my two best friends my corner of the world. 

Jasper

Glacier Skywalk, along the Ice Fields Parkway. See 10 Reasons to Visit Alberta for my other go-to’s!

2. Like 2013, I got to spend a weekend (my birthday this time!) in Chicago! Chicago has become one of my absolute favorite cities, and I was so happy to be able to go back. In between a month of working at camps and a month away in Vietnam, it was the perfect getaway and a much needed mini-vacation. We got to see the Cubs play again, and explore Wrigleyville like before! We stayed right downtown this time which meant for more walks by the lake, closer to Michigan Ave and deep-dish pizzas, and even drinks at a bar on the 95th floor of the John Hancock building!

Wrigley

3. Indiana Diving Camp is sort of legendary- the entire diving community probably went at one point or another, and the whole five weeks is like one big social event for age group divers across the country (as well as college divers, college coaches, and a few international athletes!). I had the privilege of working as a House Counselor there this summer, and it was probably the most fun I have ever had at work. It felt like I was at summer camp- getting to dive in world class facilities, get to know divers from the around the country, organizing activities for the campers like slip and slide and charity washes and a “Field Day” that involved watermelons, baby oil, food coloring, and flour! I can’t even describe how fun it was, and I’m thankful for the friendships formed during those few weeks in Indiana.

Watermelons

The staff may or may not have gotten a hold of the watermelons…

4. Surprising my family for American Thanksgiving, again. Between spring break, May, August, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, I’ve been able to go home and see my family more this year than almost every other year I’ve been away at college! Even though it was a sort trip, from Wednesday afternoon to Sunday morning, it was completely worth it. 

Fam

5. My Senior Meet, the following weekend which my mother and sister were able to attend. I have loved being a Hawkeye from the day I signed my National Letter of Intent, and will remain a Hawkeye long after I walk the stage this upcoming May. Being a Hawkeye has been such a large part of my identity, and has given me the greatest years of my life. The relationships formed here, the lessons learned, the goals set and achieved. A night dedicated simply to acknowledge the part of ourselves that will always be Hawkeyes was just one more incredible opportunity and memory I will never forget.

Seniors  

“Is this really happening? Is it my Senior Meet already?”

6. In November of this year, I was given the opportunity to give a speech as a student-speaker for Iowa’ Athletic Department All-Staff meeting. It was Top 5 one of the most nerve wracking things I have ever done, and spent more time preparing than I have for many exams! The speech was on my student-athlete experience at Iowa and my experience in Vietnam. Despite the nerves, the speech went surprisingly well and I couldn’t be happier I said yes to the opportunity! It was so incredible to be able to share my experiences as well as being able to discuss the program with coaches and administrators further after my speech, when I was able to mingle and answer any additional questions. I received an interview request two days later, and you can find both the 12 minute speech and the condensed version in interview form on www.coachforcollege.org.

7. My hair started to grow again! This might seem like a minor thing for a Top-14 list, but those who know me well know that this has been a serious issue. Due to years of chlorine damage and wear and tear, in February of 2014 things had gotten so bad my hair had started turning white and simply stopped growing. I started wearing a cap to dive at the end of the month, started taking biotin and fish oils, anything that would help, and basically started treating my hair like precious gold. Th biggest difference by far has been wearing the cap- my hair is darker, the top (not damaged part) is thicker, and I’ve actually been able to GROW my hair for the first time in years and years.

xmas selfie

LOOK AT HOW HEALTHY AND DARK IT IS okay I just got a trim before I snapped a Christmas Day selfie, but you can tell it’s not gray or white. 

8. Okay, again, this one is sort of superficial, but I’ve officially converted to 100% Apple. In July I got a (free!) iPhone 5c and for Christmas/early Happy Graduation I got a MacBook Pro! I could not happier to have a computer that works and everything seems to be operating at the speed of light compared to my old HP (that really was lovely, if you like watching paint dry and glaciers melt). I’m really looking forward to figuring out how to sync my devices and enter 2015 magically more organized (you stop that eye roll right now).

9. Running in the spring- during 2014 I entered a four mile “Warrior Challenge” and a 10km road race! The four miler didn’t have particularly difficult obstacles (read about it here) and the 10km was a blast minus one particular hill (read about that one here). Two races in the spring hardly qualifies me as a legitimate runner, but I loved it. I’m still very much a seasonal runner, running from March through the spring and summer and that’s okay with me! I don’t put a lot of miles on my shoes and I’m not tempted to enter every 5km I see. With my college eligibility wrapping up here, I’m hoping to do a few more races than I’ve been used to- but I’m not spilling the beans till January 1st :)

10-14. Vietnam and Coach for College. Okay, lets be real, the reason I can get to 14 of my favorite things from the year so early is because I could think of 14 things from this trip alone. Heck I already started this list with The Top 4 Things I Miss About Vietnam (is recycling old posts for a year in review cheating? Not in my book). The kids were life changing. The city of Da Nang was amazing, and a place I certainly want to return. The towns we visited on the weekends, Hue and Hoi An, I would recommend to any traveller. THE FOOD. The connections I made with the other coaches and teachers, both American and Vietnamese (also see: “Reflecting Nam, Finally”). Vietnam and Coach for College was without a doubt the biggest leap of faith I have ever done. I took a leap, and the net appeared. I found my solid ground on the other side of the world.

Nam

And of course, you guys (okay I guess this could have been #14). Seeing lauren elyse CAN grow and develop has been amazing. Who would have thought that this post would have over 7000 views?? For reference, my next top two posts of 2014 were between 400 and 1000 views (this one and this one). I was incredibly thankful for guest posts over the summer, and kicked my own blogging butt over October. I have fallen in and out of love with writing, but I’ve got no plans to slow down on the blog now. I’ve got bigger and better plans for the blog when the season wraps up in March, and I can’t wait to take you lovely supportive folks along for the ride.

Happy New Year!!

So, What About Diving?

I started this blog in the hopes that my friends and family back home could read about what my life was like down in the States- as a NCAA Division 1, student-athlete. That mission holds true today but now a lot more people read this blog than I thought! I love writing about the healthy recipes I’ve tried, the travel we must go through, weekend getaways, and accomplishing goals.

So, why haven’t I ACTUALLY been writing about diving? It’s the funniest thing, for a student athlete blogger I write way more about life than I do about my own sport! In fact if someone was to come across my blog now, they would probably think I’m some type of runner (hahahahahahaha. No.)

A little background- during the 2013/2014 season I actually took what’s called a “red-shirt” year, which basically means I take a year off from competing for my college team. I was/am still training with them, was there for home meets, had all the same workouts, I just didn’t travel to the away meets and conference and such! Every NCAA athlete has four years of eligibility to compete with five years to use it, so now I’ve used 3 years of my NCAA eligibility and my red shirt year, and will be competing my fifth year at Iowa! Clearly having less diving competitions would give me less of a reason to write about it- I simply have less competitions to recap. In fact, this year I competed only one time at the 2014 Canadian Winter Senior National Championships.

I took my red shirt year because I know I’m not done yet. I wasn’t ready to dive for one more year, walk across the stage, get my degrees and get on my life. No way. I knew if I was going to keep diving I might as well represent Iowa my fifth year rather than forth, as I’ll have a whole other year of training under my belt. I want to represent Iowa the best I can at the B1G Championships, NCAA Zones, and maybe even the NCAA Championships. I took the year to train my butt off, learn new dives, support the team. I figured out my last year of school class-wise, and am soooo so ready to return to competition in the fall.

So yes, this is a student-athlete blog. And this student-athlete cannot WAIT for the 2014/2015 season! The season right now looks like, well nothing. It’s the season of cross-training and relaxing and getting your batteries recharged as my coach would say. The time to focus and buckle down is not this time, just staying on my toes :) If the blog makes it look like I’m on a permanent vacation I am I assure you it’s simply the time of year! This is when I can let my body de-stress, try new things, travel, and visit with my family and friends.

The diving is there. The diving has been there, is with me now, and will be there with a vengeance this fall! Thanks for reading all the content I put out there that doesn’t even have to do with diving :)