Goodbye Birmingham.

 

 I’ve been living in Birmingham, Alabama since January 2013. I transferred mid-year during my sophomore year of college from Kennesaw State in Georgia(where I am from) to UAB where I ran XC and Track. That was my life. My whole world was my team and school and running.

Then, I graduated in Spring 2015 and was released into the real world where I stayed in Birmingham and started working full time in production while trying to juggle training full time as well.

When I realized I wanted more than working 40 hours a week in a cold dark building, I left after seven months when I got sponsored by Skechers Performance for running(who I am no longer under contract with).

I knew I wanted to run and keep getting faster and devote more time to my training. I really looked at work as a way of survival so that I could run and compete. I know I’m not super-elite yet. More like a sub-elite pro runner. But I have big dreams and live my life the way I want for a purpose.

I started working part time and training “full time”. I continued with the thought that I would sacrifice my broadcast career and dreams for a few years for my running for now while I could.

I started working at a golf course- Robert Trent Jones at Oxmoor Valley; little did I know what a great impact that place and the people there would have on me. Then I got certified through AFAA in personal training in the fall of 2016. This was a great way for me to use my own fitness and over eight years of being a competitive athlete to share with other people.

Personal Training became a way for me to be used to bless other people, not just with showing them physical training but showing them love and kindness. I really feel like personal training is a way I can use my spiritual gifts in one place mixing my physical strength, encouragement, kindness and communication all in one to shower people who need it most.

Now, I’m about three weeks away from moving to Jacksonville, Florida. I’ve honestly been praying about this move for a little over a year shortly after my first “elite” race at Gate River(which I ran injured and didn’t shine as much as I had hoped..) I felt called to Jax, similar to the way I felt called to Birmingham upon transferring in college.

I’ve been in Birmingham about 2 years post collegiate now. I’m not married, no kids, no contracted full-time job. I have friends in Jax, a new and friendly running community with others to train with, blessed with hopeful and exciting new job opportunities already in place for me, and an amazing living situation God provided for me just when He knew I needed it.

I love Birmingham and I know I’m not the same Lauren I was when I came here from Georgia four years ago. I know I won’t be the same as I head to Jacksonville soon. I’ve been through so much in this city and met some of the most incredible people in my life here. Birmingham has so much I will miss and so much I’ll be leaving.

 

Things I’ll Miss about Birmingham-

  • All of my FRIENDS. Especially my running family here, collegiate and post collegiate. I honestly don’t talk to many of my teammates anymore from college. Regretfully, we’ve grown apart quickly and life happens so fast and everyone has their own little world to tend to..But I’ve developed several close knit friendships with many of the local running groups here in Bham that I will miss.

    I also have many great friends from college that I still hang out with and am still close with who I’ve known since I transplanted here. I have other friends and acquaintances I’ve met along the way through my journey here that have been constant in my life. (Y’all know who you are..Kyle, Derk, Sara, Lynne, Jordyn,Porter,Eli..just to name a few).

  • My RTJ FAMILY- Okay, so my golfers..my regulars. You guys literally made it possible for me to pay my rent, save up for this move and I’ve made some awesome connections and friends at the course. You all make me feel so pretty and loved and special, even just kindness and a smile on a rough day meant the world to me. My bosses and co-workers at RTJ, y’all showed me what hard work really is and how to adjust to circumstances that aren’t always in your favor. I respect you all so very much(in every area of work..cart boys, f&b, pro shop, cleaning,cooks). Working with all different personality types and backgrounds teaches you patience, humility, the importance of trust and kindness. And Erin, you’ve become like a sister to me; not just a superior. We are so similar yet different but I am so glad we’ve become good friends.<3
  • My YMCA Greystone Family- Andrea Pindroh has to be the most compassionate, patient, understanding fitness director and person on the planet. I am so incredibly grateful to have come under her watch and leadership during my 6 months now as a trainer at the Y. All of the trainers at my branch are amazing people with such diverse and rich attributes. Don and all of the front desk staff, Leonard the director, all of the members, and of course my CLIENTS!!! You have all impacted me more than you know and I have learned a lot from each one of you. I’m so blessed to have started as a new personal trainer at such a caring and rewarding place as the YMCA. It’s not just a gym, it’s truly a family and a culture filled with intent on making people better beyond a healthy and fit lifestyle.
  • My Starbucks– Greystone, no one will ever make an iced-white mocha with 6 scoops of matcha like you do for me on a rainy-busy Monday Morning in between clients or notice when I wear normal clothes. Y’all constantly save my life.
  • First Watch– Literally has become a brunch/post workout addiction and I am so happy Jax has one of these. But you’ll be my favorite always.
  • Avondale and SATURN– BY far, my favorite spot to hang out, be a hipster and sip local craft beer and make new friends.
  • Railroads– OK, so Jax definitely has it’s own railway system too…but something about driving past Sloss, sitting on top of Carrigan’s at night or driving to the golf course and hearing the CSX roar by..is just mesmerizing to me. I absolutely adore it.
  • All of my running trails- Oak mountain, Heardmont, Veterans Park, Jemison, Railroad and downtown by UAB. All of my memorized routes, I’ll have to make some new ones now.
  • The People and the City- Most people in Birmingham are very friendly and I’ll miss the familiarity of the people here. Also, it’s easy to navigate anywhere within 30-40 minutes. Homewood, Vestavia, Mountainbrook, Avondale, Greystone, Cahaba..ect. All the little niches are easy to travel to throughout the city and have their own charm.

Church of the Highlands- I started attending Church of the Highlands when I was at UAB and became a member and completed the growth track this past winter. I love Highlands and Pastor Chris Hodges is so down to Earth and is a great speaker. Highlands reminds me of my home Church where my family goes in GA-12Stone Church. I discovered my spiritual gifts and grew in my faith at Highlands. My only regret was not fully devoting my time and focus to serving while I was here, and not getting involved as much as I wanted because I was so “busy”..that’s something I’ll be talking about in my next post-“A Promise to Jacksonville”. One of my top priorities will be to get connected at Celebration Church and start intentionally planting seeds and impacting wherever I’m placed.

Being fearful to go all in or to not get too attached to people or put yourself out there because you’re too “busy” is a lie. I admit I did that a lot the past year and a half in Birmingham because I was afraid to get too close to people because I didn’t want them to hurt me like I had been hurt before or what if they let me down or didn’t like me?

I realize that’s hard for me to actually admit. It took some reflection and handing that fear over to God, because I know now that he can’t use me and work through my gifts to reach other people if I’m not willing to trust Him with that. That’s probably my biggest lesson going foreward with this move. Which brings me to the next topic!

What I’ve Learned from Birmingham-

  • Rely on yourself and God– Trust God and go where He leads you first. Trust me, just do it the first time and don’t look back. It will save you trouble, second-guessing and heart ache. Do things yourself and handle each day for what it is. Life can seem overwhelming if you look at the whole picture all at once. Take it hour by hour and conquer each day. Breathe.
  • Friends come and go– You can still love and care for people that come and then go out of your life but you don’t have to let it break you if they disappear on you. Everyone has a purpose in your life and some weren’t meant to be there the whole way. It’s okay, accept it for what it is and move on. The important people will stick around and be there in the end.
  • Be ambitious and don’t get wrapped up in what’s expected of you– If i’ve learned anything just from being a human for 25 years now it’s that EVERYONE has an opinion and will always have something to say about what you decide to do with your life. So..live in a way that pleases you and God. Anyone else’s opinion isn’t yours and it doesn’t matter what they think. I think that if you do something that goes against the norms or “cookie-cutter” societal preferences for today, that’s totally FINE. As long as your lifting others up and chasing your dreams and using your gifts, why does it matter how or what or when or where you do it?? Dream big and just DO IT already. It doesn’t matter what Bob on Facebook comments or what Linda gossips about. Don’t even be bothered as long as your focused and driven.
  • Don’t be afraid and don’t wait- I waited almost 2 years after graduating college to pack up and move to a different state because of new opportunities, prayer, a new adventure and because I was too comfortable and “afraid” of the unknown. Life is too short to wait for something you want. If you’re able, go for it. Tomorrow isn’t promised and good things don’t come to those who wait..you have to make moves and get after it if you want it, Now.
  • Don’t take people or anything for granted- Like I said, Life is a “mist”..don’t ghost your friends all the time(I know I’m horrible at returning a text). But seriously, you’ll miss your friends always bugging you to hang out or the casual acquaintances you make small talk with during the week or all of your normal people that are placed within your circles each week. They’re there for a reason, how are you leaving them..?

Things I’m Leaving in Birmingham-

  • Toxic Relationships- I’m not in any right now, thank the Lord. But I have been, and those scars I’ll have. The people, the hurt..those are in the past and I’m leaving that part of me here to stay.
  • My Friends and home- Well for my friends-Physically at least for now!! But my home will no longer be here, I’ll be making a new one. I am both nostalgic and frightened.
  • All the amazing food and local breweries!! Melt, Mugshots, Avondale, Urban Cookhouse, just a few of my fav cheat spots. 😦
  • Experiences- the good, the bad, the heartache, the scares, the victories, the defeats.

Overall, my four years in Birmingham, Alabama have been the most challenging, growing, and wonderful years of my life. I met some of my best friends here, had the most heart-ache, transitioned from a student to a full-blown struggling millenial “adult” here, fell in love with Running more here and became more independent and secure in my identity in Christ here, even alone at times.

Goodbye for now Birmingham.

 

 

 

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Nutrition Update-My tips & nutrition norms

Many of my clients and friends lately, have been nudging me to post a new nutrition blog with some of my eating and healthy habits.

I know it’s been a minute from the last time I wrote to you all and I am sorry!! 😦

 Life has been a bit busy lately with work and my own training. I’m also about to make a huge life transition which I’ll be going public with very soon! All good things going on, I just haven’t had the time or energy to devote my thoughts to my writing.

That will change very soon as well. I feel better having an outlet to share my thoughts and tips here to help encourage anyone else who may benefit or feel uplifted.

SO-with all that said, I have a few nutrition and overall wellness tips that I do that I believe you can all benefit from if you try some.

Eating 

What I stay away from:

  • soda or carbonated drinksI don’t need to sit here and list all of the negative health benefits of drinking soda..including weight gain and not to mention it burns your throat!! I don’t consume this stuff.
  • sweet tea! I know this one is unheard of being from the south but it’s been months and months since I’ve had this in my diet. If you can’t cut it completely, plan it for your cheat day or work on subbing it with a healthy juice instead with natural sugars.
  • Fried foods– Okay, so I do love to indulge in some wings or fried chicken every now and then after a hard run or logging some long mileage at the end of a hard week. But this should definitely be a moderation food for SURE!!
  • Processed packaged/canned foods- Alright, do you actually think your body understands what your putting into it if you can’t even pronounce it..? I do not eat what I do not know. Meaning- if I can’t list the ingredients on my hands or read and understand what they are..I DON’T EAT IT. It’s not natural and not good for your body to try to break down all these foreign chemicals and harmful additives.
  • Adding salt/seasoning or excessive sauce/dressing to foods- I understand that seasoning meats and adding sauce to pasta and dressing to salad is normal ans tasty. However, again this needs to be done in MODERATION. What good is a salad if it’s covered in dressing and you can’t even see any green? When you go out to eat, many times the food is already over-seasoned and high in sodium. Don’t add more!
  • RED MEAT- This is one most people call me a weirdo for. I don’t eat beef or pork at all. I only eat-chicken,fish, and turkey. This is mainly a personal choice to opt for leaner meats and I also don’t like eating them at all. I think if you do eat red meat you need to really research the meat you are buying and know where it was raised and packaged ect. Know what is in the meat and eat it sparingly if you consume red meats.
  • SWEETSHaving dessert or treating yourself every now and then isn’t a sin but if you’re trying to trim down or work on your six-pack..ice cream and cookies every night won’t get you there. I’m just being real. I like to eat an oikos greek yogurt cup with a scoop of coconut peanut spread and my favorite fruits or granola whenever I get a craving. Find healthy alternatives and your body will adapt.

What I normally eat:

  • GREENS & Veggies– Try to eat something green with every meal, even if it’s blended into a smoothie so you can’t taste it. You should add a variety of mixed veggies into your diet each week too, don’t get bland and bored with your food. Mix it up.
  • FRUIT- NATURAL SWEETENER. I like buying fresh, organic fruits that are currently in season. Switch it up and try new fruits each week! These are perfect for snacking throughout the day and you should try to eat fruit with most meals.
  • Lean Meats/Protein– As stated, I only eat: chicken, fish(a lot of salmon), and turkey!! QUINOA is also a great protein/ plant based option for you vegans.
  • Almond milk- I drink this instead of dairy milk. I used to drink soy but always drink almond now. You can get it unsweetened or in different flavors.
  • Almond butter/nuts- I’m a big fan of the Justin’s Almond Butter. I normally buy the singles in Target to add to my 4-6 little meals/snack packs throughout the day. I also love Aldi for a canister of healthy mixed nuts.
  • Fruit pouches– There are many kinds out there. I only buy the organic ones with just fruit and natural additives, NO HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP!!! If you pick anything up in the store with this as an ingredient, put it down and run away.
  • Whole Grain bread/Whole Wheat bread- Typically these breads are higher in nutritional value. I stay away from exceptionally starchy or “white breads”.
  • COCONUT- Oil, Milk, Butter..basically everything coconut.
  • Matcha/Green Tea- Put it in smoothies, coffee(just ask the Greystone Starbucks about me!), Protein shakes, or just inhale it.
  • DRINKS- WATER, natural juices(OJ,Cherry,apple, cran..ect), Vitamin Water XXX Zero, Coconut water, smart water, non-dairy milk. OCCASIONAL- Craft beer, whisky(rarely), or weekly-biweekly(depending on training and race schedule) glass of RED WINE. anddd did I mention..WATER?! oh and COFFEEEEEEE.

My Vice:

I guess if I could name the one bad thing in my diet right now would be my venti iced white mocha addiction. I get it many days throughout the week and it gets me through work and peps me up after an early morning run. I often get the matcha powder in it, which is healthy..yes. BUT-all of the sugar from the syrup in the drink I’m sure I could do without.

All of these nutrition tips are what I normally live by and do. I’m not saying these are what everyone should do but this works for me and my training. I do drink a ton of water, don’t eat/drink those listed items and I am disciplined because I know I perform better that way.

Over time, it really has become normal and just is a part of my lifestyle. Any change you make in your diet takes time. Habits form after about a month of repetition and commitment.

Even if you read this and pick maybe one or two helpful tips, try them for a few weeks and see how you feel!

I’m not perfect and sometimes life gets busy and I’m stressed at times too and don’t eat enough for the amount of training I do, and I don’t drink enough water. But I can absolutely tell in my energy level and performance when I do the little things and stay committed.

Age or activity level isn’t an excuse, neither is cost. Fruits and vegetables are so cheap, cheaper than buying food out at fast food places throughout the week!! YOU are in charge of you and your health. Excuses shouldn’t stop you from transforming or maintaining your body in the way that you want it. Just because it doesn’t happen over night doesn’t mean you give up.

We are given just one body in this life and it is a precious gift. Treat your body as the temple it is and fuel it carefully with love and goodness.