Thursday, March 31, 2011

Counting Calories

The other day I decided to download a calorie counter app on my ipad. My reason for doing this started off as curiosity of what percentage my diet broke down to, in terms of protein, carbs, and fat. What I was going to do with this information once I had it was still unclear, but knowing seemed like a good idea. Perhaps I would show it to my nutritionist and she would recommend that I eat a ton more carbs…not the complex ones, just the basic yummy ones that always get a bad rap. Wouldn't that be nice? "Brianna, I would recommend eating more pancakes at breakfast, making sure you throw in some fries at lunch, and always polish off your dinner with some brownies." Only in my dreams I suppose.

So the other day I started plugging in my meal after lunch time and quickly realized that was the wrong day to start this gig. We had a barbecue at the training center -- just because it was Thursday -- and I took full advantage with a hamburger, chicken breast, baked beans, potato salad, and a nice ice cream bar to finish it off. Well, that was over 1000 calories and it almost made me regret the ice cream. The ice cream, however, is a very rare occasion, but the huge lunches are not. Having a dining hall at your disposal after hours of hard training that leave you famished makes filling up very easy. I continued plugging in my numbers and quickly realized I will never in the foreseeable future eat less than 2000 calories a day. Dinner hadn't even been cooked yet and I was already there.

The other thing I have quickly realized is that portion sizes are created for toddlers. Do you know what a 4oz chicken breast looks like? It looks like that chicken was extremely flat chested. I looked on the back of my pita chips yesterday to find out that a serving size is 7 chips. Well I was already 3 servings in by that point. So much for the "guilt free" the front of the bag promised. The only thing I probably stay on point with serving sizes is my vegetable portions.

I'm not sure yet what I'm going to do with this information but I do hope to put it to good use. I plan on tailoring my eating habits and watching what I eat a bit more closely when I start competing but for right now I am still in the watching phase. For instance, yesterday morning I tweeted a picture of my breakfast …

I watched that disappear quite quickly.

Of course I don't mean to make light of eating healthy and creating good eating habits. I think it's super important. I'm mainly just pointing out how easy it is to be unaware of what you consume until you put it down in black and white. For me, counting calories isn't so important but counting what column those calories are going in, is. I have a feeling my carbs covered in sugar diet suggestion won't do much for me nor will it help me fly through the air any further so I'll save that for special occasions.

Friday, March 25, 2011

March Madness

Not everyone is a sports fan, but there are certain sporting events I think everyone should enjoy watching. March Madness is one such event -- for the simple reason that it's just that… MAD! Perhaps I'm a little biased because I went to a college with a great basketball history, who found their way back to the sweet 16 this year and gave me extra incentive to watch and cheer and scream my brains out last night. There is nothing like being a true fan and seeing your team succeed. I haven't really been a true fan of any professional team since I changed my dating habits, so my college team is all that's left. Luckily for me, they don't disappoint.

If you were watching the game last night (and if you weren't, what else could you have possibly been doing??), then you might have heard them mention what high school the team's star player, Derrick Williams, went to. La Mirada High. My school. It made me that much more proud to be a fan. You see, LMHS isn't your typical star-studded athlete hub, and we most certainly aren't known for our basketball prowess. The same could be said for track and field. This kid came out of high school the least recruited and heralded of his incoming class, and now he's the star player. I love that story for what it is, and I also love it because I can so easily relate to it.

Coming out of high school I was recruited, but I was by no means a superstar. There were some schools on my list who wouldn't give me a full scholarship because it seemed I was just an average athlete, who had the ability to contribute, but by no means be one of the best. As one coach so eloquently put it, "As a sprinter, you are a dime a dozen." Of course, no sprinter from that school in LA that wears blue and gold and contains the letters U,L,A,C ever beat me at a major meet, but that's besides the point.

What I love about the Arizona basketball team, March Madness, and sports in general, is that ultimately it comes down to you deciding your destiny. Duke was the #1 seed and Arizona was the #5 seed. Nobody except Charles Barkeley and U of A alum probably picked them to win the game in their brackets. But it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks your capable of, as long as you believe. There was a turning point in that game when the Arizona team made a decision. I made a similar decision my junior year at Nationals right before the final of the 200 meters. You simply decide you're going to win and you believe wholeheartedly, with every fiber in your being, that it's going to happen. And then it does. In the second half the team played like they knew they were going to win, and Duke simply didn't. I loved watching it and I loved it even more because it was my team.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Life After College

If you are a subscriber to Track and Field News, you may have saw my pretty little face awesome gold shorts in the latest issue. I was interviewed for an article that talked about what it's like finding a successful training environment after college is over. For anyone who knows my story, it's obvious I would have a thing or eight to say about such a topic. Yes, I have moved/switched coaches 8 times since graduating. Go ahead and say it… I still look like I'm 22. :) Obviously I had a ton of insight and information to share and I thought the article painted a very realistic picture of the struggle and uncertainty that faces a lot of athletes outside of the comfort of their alma mater and the security of a scholarship check. Is the story the same for everyone? No. Some people will have more security, some will not struggle to figure it out as much as I did, and some simply wouldn't have lasted as long to rack up that many changes and still find a way to keep on going…they have probably found a better way to put their degree to use.

My journey is unique to me, but there are parts of it that are probably shared by many athletes trying to make the successful leap to the professional ranks. I love to share what I have learned along the way because if the me now could have had a conversation with the me at 22, things would have probably gone a lot different in my career. Part of the reason I blog is to share silly, banal stuff that goes on in my life, but another huge inspiration for me is sharing my experience with other people--and hopefully other athletes--to give some inside knowledge of what it's like and what to expect. I am more than happy to say that I have made the mistakes and have learned from them--let me help you not make the same ones. Being able to say I am a professional athlete is a blessing. I train every day to compete at my best, and I travel the world to put my best up against the best from everywhere. It's awesome. But this sport is not the NFL, NBA, WTA, PGA, or the professional ribbon twirling association. The more you know, the more you can navigate your way to the top, without all the detours and road blocks. One thing you must be sure of, however, is that you really want it.

If you read the article, I'd love to know what you thought...

Monday, March 21, 2011

Brownies and Friendship

I don't like to brag, but I believe I make some of the best brownies this side of the mississippi. I should clarify that I make some of the best brownies from a box, but believe me, there is still an art to it.

This weekend, I had the distinct pleasure of cooking for some of my friends as we celebrated March birthdays and had one of our infamous game nights. I finished off the delectable spread with a pan of brownies and a sundae station. In the midst of an intense game of Gestures, I made myself a small brownie sundae, complete with whipped cream, chocolate sauce, and slivered almonds. It was delicious. So delicious, in fact, that my mind was already thinking ahead to the second helping I would have later that night and for the next few days, if I was lucky. You see, I knew I could probably get away with a single pan of brownies but I had intentionally doubled it so there would be leftovers. I hardly ever make brownies-- it's hard to justify when you live alone and are left with a whole pan just for yourself. That would be a bit much, even for me. Now that I had a group to bake for, I could definitely make it so I had a smile on my face for a few days.

So imagine my shock and horror when the night is winding down and I head to the kitchen to snatch a quick brownie. They're nowhere to be found. Last time I looked there was an entire half of a 13x9 inch pan left, and now I can't find as much as a crumb. I know some of these boys can eat, but this doesn't make any sense. I turn to my friend Mike, who is known for clearing plates if you even look like you are setting down your fork and picking up cups when people are mid sip, all in the name of keeping things tidy. Surely, he must've got the urge to clean up and stashed my leftover brownies elsewhere. And he did. He stashed them in the trash.

Not only had they been thrown away, they were now already in the trash bin outside, with a brand new bag gracing the trash bin. (Don't judge me for checking--these are brownies we are talking about.) Who in their right mind would toss perfectly good brownies? For goodness sake, they were probably still warm! I was beyond livid and searching for answers. In response, I was told that he thought that everyone had had some and now it was best to get them out of the way so there would be no temptation.

I don't know about you, but there are times when I welcome temptation. Eating gooey, chocolate goodness is one such time. I never feel bad afterwards because I believe God intended for us to truly enjoy chocolate, as long as we promise to not make it one of the five essential food groups. But now I must live without because there are people in this world who obviously lack common sense… I'm just hoping our friendship can be restored.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Honorary Kardashian

I am body conscious. That is not to say I'm body obsessive, or have serious body issues beyond what is normal for any person with two X chromosomes, but I definitely am a person who takes constant inventory of where things are sitting and how they are looking. It's not just for vanity's sake-- although I'd be lying if I said that didn't play a part-- but it also is for physics sake. My body has to fly through air. It would be silly of me to not pay attention to the amount of mass I'm asking to travel through space for 23 feet, not to mention the look of that mass in a tiny pair of briefs and a sports bra top.

Right around this time of year my body is probably at one of it's largest sizes, pound wise. I'm eating an incredible amount and not really worrying about it and I'm lifting heavy. Pretty much every time I put on a pair of jeans it requires the jump and squat a few times before they are button-able. Ladies, holler if you hear me. I actually find myself opting for leggings about 70% of the time. Lord help me if those go out of style.

I grew up a pretty scrawny kid. I would love, Love, LOVE to have a curvy body but the deck is (literally) not stacked in my favor. So this is my time of year when I get to call myself "thick". Some people may laugh in my face but they didn't know me as a 14 year old who used to wear sweats under their jeans to fill them out a little better. This is progress. Maybe one day when I don't work out for a living and I've had a couple of kids, the meaning of thick and curvy will take on a whole new meaning, but for now this is as close as I'm going to get. Am I giving Kim Kardashian a run for her money? Probably not. But I plan on enjoying my curves. I'll even do a Dove commercial if they ask me. :)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Facebook Dilemma

I never imagined there could be 5000 people in the world who would want to be my friend. I still can't imagine it, really. But supposedly there are 5000 people out there who want to at least be my cyber friend. And there could be more…so that puts me in a bit of a pickle. Facebook cuts you off for personal pages, but allows you to grow in popularity forever if you have something like a fan page, that people can come by and Like. I've fought this for a while, seeing as how it just seems very awkward and maybe even slightly narcissistic asking people to come by your page and "like" you, but that's probably because I'm the type of person who never does it.

So here's what I'm thinking…

If I have another page, it would have to be somewhat different than the page I have already. I don't want to upkeep two identical pages, with the same pictures, same information, same everything. So my question to you is… How do I differentiate them? I'd love if you had any thoughts, ideas, or suggestions. Basically, what would it take for you to "like" me… :)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Purpose of Talent

Everyone has talent. One of my talents happens to be quite obvious because I practice every day trying to get better at it, and also because I throw it in your face on this blog all the time. But what I've been most concerned with lately concerning the talents we are given, is their purpose. It is not accident, coincidence, or chance that I happen to do something better than 99.9% of people in this world. I want to be acutely aware of that, not just so that I can try and minimize that .01% gap, but also so I can be confident that I am fulfilling the purpose behind why I was given it in the first place.

Here's the tricky thing… sometimes the goals we set for ourselves in regards to the talent we have, don't necessarily line up with the purpose of our talent. It's not a bad thing to strive to be the best at something, or to simply strive to be your very best at whatever you're doing. But the success aspect of it is more likely a byproduct or a stepping stone of sorts. Maybe this doesn't ring as true to you if your talent happens to be saving lives or teaching children, but if you're like me and your talents include running fast, jumping in sand, being a phenomenal Scrabble player, and finding the best restaurants a city has to offer, you might want to take a closer look at why you were created the way you were.

Like I said, it wasn't a coincidence. I know without a shadow of a doubt that most of you could try your hardest to be better than me at the talents I was blessed with and you would fail (and vice versa…unless your talent is Scrabble or any other word games). We can all try to be better at a lot of things, but we still are purposefully created to be talented in specific things. Now, the question is "Why?" Sometimes I like to tell the story about how I started running track by accident in high school -- that it basically was because I didn't make the varsity softball team and I was a little bitter so I figured I would go see what the track team was about instead. But I didn't just happen to be good at track, or work really hard and then develop into a person that was a decent athlete. It is my talent. And not just the actual running and jumping attributes, the mindset of a track athlete is imbedded in me. I am in competition mode nearly every minute of every day because I am just wired to be that way.

We are all unique in this way. I am positive that everyone is talented in their own way, some obvious and some not so in your face. Some of us have it figured out and are dialed in to the purpose of who they are and what they're about, and maybe some of us are still making sure we make the most of our talent. Here's to that journey...

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Working Girl

I'm sure everyone that stops by this blog is aware of what my day job is. But like every good working woman, I also have my side hustles. One such hustle involves a bit of sports modeling from time to time. Now don't get me wrong, I don't consider myself a "model." Not to knock them... the first time I ever had to take pictures that weren't for my facebook profile, I was amazed at the work it takes to make a picture look effortless. It's a lot tougher than it looks, especially when you have a crew of people worrying about the placement of your pinky finger and taking a million different takes that to the average joe all look the same. But that's their world and I gladly play along because... they pay. I bust my butt every single day just for the chance to make some dough so sitting around all day and posing on cue for a paycheck when I have the chance sounds like a no brainer to me.

So, a couple of weeks ago I was contacted by my agency in LA to see if I was interested in a job. However, this job wasn't print--my usual hustle of choice. I was going to be filming a fitness DVD (think P90x-ish). I had to look like I was in great shape (and send photos of myself that day to prove I hadn't become all Pillsbury recently), and actually be in great shape. I had to guarantee them I was in good "cardio shape"...that was the phrase they used. Now... what does that mean, exactly? Any jogger in America could probably beat me running a mile but I do work out all day, every day and so I'm sure that takes some kind of stamina. So, I assured them I could do the Ironman if needed and booked the job. I figured it would be a bunch of models who "play" athletes, and then me... the real deal. How hard could it really be?

I know nothing about fitness DVD's. I randomly will see a commercial for one and think to myself, "perhaps when I'm 45 that is what my workout routine will consist of.", but that's about it. Let me tell you, it was hard work and then some. For starters, we shot the series over 3 days, but folks getting in shape will complete it in an 8 week time frame. Not only that, we started over from scratch on Day 2 because on Day 1 (before I thought it was that difficult), the lead guy lost his voice and could no longer shout out the moves or encouraging words to the folks back at home. And now that I have actually completed these series of workouts, I can assure anyone who buys it that it is one heck of a workout--especially week 8--because I did it, and I barely lived to tell about it. I'm almost kidding.

All in all, it was a good experience. In a few months it will be on sale in Walmart, and if you didn't have reason enough before to go shopping there, you will now. Here are a few behind the scenes pics...

These ladies were AHHHH-mazing!!! I seriously had to step my game up or it would have been "goodbye, you are the weakest link."

By the end we were like best friends from summer camp!

Hanging out in the break room. I definitely had the worst snacking habits of the bunch. "umm, so nobody is going to eat that cake?"

It would have been a lot more enjoyable on set if there was a little eye candy...

The whole crew! Awesome people!!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Answered Prayer

I believe in prayer.

I believe that when we pray, those prayers get answered. The difficulty comes sometimes in what form those answers take. Sometimes it's yes. Sometimes it's no. Sometimes it's not right now. I think the part where I get confused, is paying attention to when the answer is no. Sometimes I find myself structuring my prayers so that I really am only on the lookout for yes answers.

"Dear God, can you please help with this...Dear God, can you please give me this...Dear God, will you make this happen..." And so when I see these things that I've prayed earnestly about not happening, I figure God must be taking his sweet time and just hasn't gotten around to them yet. So I try to be patient and send some friendly reminders. Sometimes it takes quite some time for me to realize that He did answer me. The answer was no.

NO can be quite a hard pill to swallow. It just doesn't feel right. In reality, what it is is a reminder that we just don't always know enough to know what's best for us. In my very narrow-minded, tunneled-visioned view of life, I think I'm pretty adept at knowing what would be best for me, and I'd really like God to be onboard with that and get his blessings on my decisions. Totally backwards, I know. Luckily, God has caught on to me and doesn't let it roll that way. He tells me no over and over again, and when I still refuse to listen, he gives me the stiff arm when I try to do it anyway.

Hindsight is God's foresight. There are times, like today, when I finally get why I was having such a hard time getting God to answer my prayer. I wasn't paying attention to the answer He gave me. And now no makes total sense. I'm grateful for answered prayer.

**Obviously, this is not my normal type of blog post. It's more of a journal of sorts, but I don't actually have a journal so I wrote it down here instead.