Hi all! So today I was typing my post and I was proofreading it out loud, I thought to myself…hm, I think I’d want people to hear this coming from my mouth & reading at the same time. INSERT the genius (yet I’m so behind the times) PODCAST below!
So before I get into this deep post, I wanted to let everyone know that I absolutely loved my school, loved my college experience, & love the wonderful memories I have! This post is about some internal struggle that I was dealing with and I know that others were too. This also isn’t against anyone who competes in shows or against any shows in general – I had a great time at mine but was also dealing with some internal thoughts with self love & confidence that I open up honestly about.
My goal one day is to travel to different Universities & Colleges to speak on these topics. I want to do presentations on my story while being super honest with hopes of helping others or letting people know they aren’t alone. With that being said – if you could listen to the podcast below while you read the post I would totally appreciate it!
So remember how yesterday I said that while spinning I coudn’t stop thinking about something? Welp, looks like my fingers are ready to do some work because I’m going to let these thoughts flow!
As we are coming to a new year, I reflect back on how blessed I feel & how thankful I am to be doing what I do. Whether it’s personal training, instructing group exercise, cooking, baking, blogging, or traveling – it all routes from me taking care of myself to have the strength & health to do these things.
I think so often people focus on external appearance or outside factors like working out or food to have control over some aspects in their lives. I will be the first to tell you that I grew up dealing with control issues which led me down a pretty low path at the age of 11. You can read more about that here [a deeper look into my story of change].
Although the years went by & I began to cope with the anxiety thanks to my wonderful psychologist, family, & friends support – these “control” issues still arrived from time to time.
Throughout college I went through a different phase each year & that is what I feel I need to share with you all today. Maybe you are a college student feeling lost or someone who just graduated looking for your path OR maybe these stories will still hit home even if you aren’t in the college mindset – either way, I feel that sharing these honest moments with you all will hopefully help someone out there.
Freshman year – that whole fear of the “freshman 15” that in my mind was like this plague that you would just catch like the common cold. I used to eat a big bowl of cereal for breakfast & almost would brag about the fact that I didn’t eat lunch. Then dinner (after an hour of cardio at the gym & doing 1,000 crunches) was a bowl of rice & steamed veggies. I sometimes would snack on trail mix at night if I wanted something sweet. At this point in my life, it was all about being skinny.
Looking back, it doesn’t surprise me. I was going through a lot of “change” and I often didn’t do too well with adapting to that. I was a freshman at college, living with a random roommate that I didn’t really “click” with (we weren’t mean at all, just honestly didn’t talk much), dealing with emotions of an upcoming break-up with my high school boyfriend of 5 years, not making many friends since I basically hung out with his friends from our high school, & also realizing that I wanted to change my major towards health & physical education instead of elementary education led to a lot of feelings of “what do I do?” & change.
A lot of this was happening & the 2 things at the time that I had 100% control over was food & fitness.
Then sophomore year I completely stepped out, newly single & ready to make new friends! Which I did and I loved that part of my year. Not soon after I had a new boyfriend & also decided to join the track team.
If I could go back & really focus on being an athlete – I would. I loved hurdling & triple jumping and if I trained more serious like I do now, then, my goodness! WHAT a change it would have been for the better! I was still struggling with body image so if I felt like I didn’t get enough “cardio” in at a practice (say on a lighter day) I would go to the gym & jump on the elliptical. Even typing that now makes my heart hurt because I remember that feeling.
This was also the year I was realizing more & more that I was having MAJOR stomach issues. I would eat whole wheat everything – thinking I was being healthy – and every night I would end up curled up on my bed in fetal position waiting to fall asleep so the pain would go away. Oh & pooping? Yeah, that hardly ever happened. TMI? Not on this blog – gotta be honest to help others!
Even though I was in a happier place with other aspects of college, I was still dealing with personal issues on the inside. Not only in my mind but also my gut.
I came home for break & decided to go to my Chiro Dr. Dubyak. We did some screenings and basically found out that I had this huge cloud of gas buildup around my organs. He suggested that I cut out gluten for two weeks, write down everything I was eating, & then see how I felt.
I swear within 3-4 days the bloating got better, the gas wasn’t as bad, & although I wasn’t having great bowel movements – something was still movin’.
Right then and there, I knew gluten and I had to take a break. This sparked my creativity & my love for making recipes was really coming through.
The rest of the year, I was still struggling with outward appearance and losing sight of certain aspects of being an athlete. I decided not to be on the track team come my Junior Year – even though I loved everyone on the team! I got a job at the gym & really got into more of my major which was exciting! I decided to focus more on the student aspects of my year.
Junior year came. At this point, I was newly single (after a rough break up) but hey, getting your heart broken can make you stronger even if you don’t see it at the time. I moved into a town house, was really enjoying my major, & really wanted to take the next step into training and compete.
I honestly fell in love with weight training that year. I LOVED lifting heavy, challenging myself, & working out with my two good friends! I decided to compete & honestly didn’t have any knowledge of dieting, macros , prep, etc. Went with a cookie cutter diet & listened to what other people were doing & just kinda made up my own thing. Before you know it I was on a 1300 cal diet with hardly anything other than meat, brown rice, sweet potatoes, 2 TB almond butter, protein shakes, & green veggies. Why? Because I saw other people doing this & thought that was the only way.
I’ve posted about this [here] before with “checking myself before wrecking myself.” I suggest reading that! BUT back to this point in college – I may have looked a certain way on the outside, lost 12 pounds, had “abs”, and visible muscles for the first time….
but I’m being 100% honest in saying that I STILL wasn’t happy in my body. I remember looking in the mirror & picking myself apart. What can I change? Do I need to do more cardio? Do I need to drop by carbs?And on top of all of this – lost my period since my BF % was too low.
I swear it was a constant mind game that I honestly don’t regret and I have nothing against people that compete, BUT at the time – not having any background in this type of area & just winging it to look a certain way really messed with me.
It’s like I still was struggling to find myself as Kasey Arena but looking towards outward things to feel whole inside. I started my blog because throughout this whole time, I was still getting creative in the kitchen with the foods I was allowing myself to eat. I was in this battle of wanting to try new things that I was inspired by in the blog world but basically still sticking to the same foods I felt comfortable with.
I look back and am so thankful I started sharing recipes because that was my true passion coming through – even if I was the one holding back at first due to restrictions I put on myself.
[PAUSE PODCAST] This part below was added after I recorded it.
I also want to say that I did have such a great time at these shows! It’s a lot of fun to get up there with a huge smile on & walk to your mix tape of music! I had so much support from friends & family and it was a lot of fun. This post is about the thought process I was going through and not to discourage or dis credit anyone at all. There are great coaches out there who really know how to handle show prep but this was me doing this on my own so my situation was a bit different. I’m not against competing at all & have friends that do it – I am just sharing my personal story because for me it was way more internal issues needing to be worked out. Even if you haven’t competed or ever would – it could still relate to your and your journey of that outward appearances we all my deal with.
[Ok, Back to the regularly scheduled programming]
My senior year came after a long summer of “now what”. After you workout for hours on end, restricting foods, & look a certain way – you are afraid to go back. I was afraid of gaining weight & still was struggling to find my path.
Don’t get me wrong – my college years (outside of fitness & food) were so amazing! I LOVED my school, I loved going to class, I worked super hard in school, loved my job at the gym, loved my friends, & loved our college town. I am just sharing with you my story of my journey to find the happiness on the inside throughout these 4 years.
My senior year came and it was time to get ready for student teaching (one of my favorite memories in life- you can find some fun zumba videos I did here with my students!) & a lot more responsibilities with school. I decided to compete again, a healthier way! And I have to say it was a HUGE difference from my first prep. I really did incorporate way more healthy fats, more carbs, etc. I did experiment with paleo but found that my stomach was still having trouble with digesting.
Even though I was eating more variety of food, my calories were still pretty low. My mind was healthier because I was allowing myself to eat more variety but I still wanted “control” over food.
I came across this picture the other day & I think this is what sparked my post today. Trust me, I don’t regret these times in my life. I started my blog, loved sharing recipes, loved creating, and LOVED connecting with others but still was losing sight of the healthy mindset & the happiness within.
Once I was student teaching & really just focusing on me for the year – I knew I had to make a change mentally. I knew that I wanted to pursue something with fitness & I knew that I absolutely loved helping people. I loved to workout, lift heavy, challenge myself and that athlete within. BUT I knew that I wanted to do this to be healthy & strong – not just to look a certain way.
I love educating others & teaching, whether it’s through my blog, face to face, in a personal training session, or just through interactions on social media. I knew that I was finding my passion with it & had to get my mind right in order to really serve others & help.
I was working on fixing my digestion, eating plant based for a few months really helped reset my gut & although I no longer eat 100% plant based – I found that moderation was working best for me. Anytime I “over-did” anything – almonds, meat, beans, eggs, etc. my stomach wasn’t too happy with me. BUT I found that for me, whenever I ate these foods in balance & moderation, my stomach was much more happier & could digest happily.
I know this post may seem all over the place but I felt like I needed to show that in 4 years – A LOT can change and you go through A LOT. I went from a girl who only cared about being skinny, hardly eating what my body truly needed to FUEL my fitness, dealing with stomach issues, listening to everyone but herself, & losing love for a sport over outward appearance. To a woman who is now 24, listens to her own body, does what is best for her own digestion, tells herself that it’s ok to have trial & error to find what works, allowing myself to have more variety of foods (even not-so-healthy foods), living with less restrictions, & knowing that as long as I stay true to me – I will be comforted in the fact that I am doing my best for my own body & mind.
Finding yourself is a battle – a battle within yourself. Put on your boxing gloves & LET GO of the worries & fears that are only holding YOU back. I was the one choosing to let these thoughts consume me that I put into my own head. And guess what…I was ALSO the one to choose to NOT let these thoughts consume me any longer & take a step towards a more positive direction to live a happier life & love myself.
For so long I was looking to other things to make me happy….when the one person I needed to look to was me.
With every passing year I learn more and more about myself. I am proud of my past because going through those times has led me to where I am today. Going through what I went through helps me help OTHERS through their journeys and relate to their experiences to know that they are not alone.
Sure, there are days where I need to really dig deep & find that inner love but I tell you it’s a heck of a lot easier once I faced my problems & made the CHOICE to change my way of thinking.
So often I see people worried about what they are doing or questioning themselves when it comes to their own bodies, fitness routines, or food intake based on what they see other people doing.
I strive to help inspire you to try new things without telling you “this is what you should be doing.”
My passion is to help & teach through experiences we all go through in life & using my stories to help others hopefully get to a point of being happy with themselves and looking to food & fitness as a way to FUEL and take care of your body – not use it for acceptance of an outward appearance that you are looking for.
Again, I don’t regret my path through my 4 years & I am not against anyone who competes in shows. I personally was not really competing with anyone but myself & lost the true meaning behind fueling my body properly & working out to be strong.
It all starts with making the CHOICE on your own to make the change. I always tell people that in my life, I never got over something until I decided to face it HEAD ON, look at it, acknowledge my struggle, & at that moment of knowing that it’s OK to feel this way – is when the change started to happen.
The more I ran away from the issue – the more it consumed me.
And I know – it’s NOT always easy to face something we struggle with or admit it – BUT I swear once you do, it’s like 1981080180 bricks fell off your shoulders.
So whether you are struggling with self-love, food problems, restrictions, or anything that is consuming you…I want you to try a few things…
1) Take a deep breath
– Breath in knowing that it’s OKAY to struggle & it’s OKAY to be dealing with these emotions.
2) Know that you are NOT alone.
3) Face the struggle head on.
-Write it down, say it out loud, scream it into your pillow, or type it into an email to yourself.
4) CHALLENGE YOURSELF TO MAKE THE CHANGE.
– Don’t worry about what others are doing..be YOU. Do what works for you & makes you happy. You have one guaranteed relationship your whole life & that is with yourself. So why not work on making it a positive one?
There truly is magic in letting go of who you should be & just being who you are. Accepting others for their choices, being inspired by their stories, & owning your own story.
We are so much more than just food & fitness – we were put on this earth to share our individual gifts with others. Let your light shine & BE TRUE TO YOU. You never know who you are inspiring & how endless the possibilities are whenever you just let go & BE YOU.
woooooooooo – now that my eyes are blurry & my fingers are tired, I think that’s about all I have to say today! I appreciate you all taking the time to read this (all over the place) post but I am so thankful to have this blog to share with you not only my passion with cooking, baking & fitness – but my passion & motto of being true to ourselves.
You can always e-mail me if you need someone to talk to or have questions! I am always here to talk.
Enjoy the rest of your day & be true to you!
Do you think over the last few years you’ve really come to find more of who you are or is this something you struggle with?