Your Comfort Zone is Not Where You Belong By Sarah

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Hello! I’m Sarah Radcliff. I am a grad student at Kent State University, studying nutrition, and completing my required dietetic internship before becoming a registered dietitian. I would say my fitness journey really began in 8th grade when I became serious about volleyball. My journey has evolved throughout the years and I have had the opportunity to see many different sides of what being “fit” means; from being a year-round volleyball player, to trying out track, to hiring a personal trainer, to prepping and competing in a bodybuilding competition, to maintaining a healthy lifestyle while finishing a degree and internship. I have experienced a very rigorous side of fitness, and I have experienced a very flexible side of fitness.

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Throughout these different experiences, my eating habits have also evolved. I have gone from “clean eating,” to following a strict meal plan, to macronutrient counting, and finally to a balanced, intuitive style of eating. I have learned so much over the years from my own trial and error as well as from my education. Here are some takeaways I’ve gained since starting my own fitness journey.

  • Don’t be afraid to try new things- All of my most memorable experiences have stemmed from doing something I didn’t believe I could actually do. When I hired a personal trainer, I was 16, working part time at dairy queen, and could not afford what a good trainer costs. However, a friend of mine and I went in on it together and were able to split the cost and workout together every week. A trainer was one of the best investments I have ever made. He taught me proper form, pushed my limits, and showed me how to create workout plans for myself.

  • Progression takes sacrifice- I don’t believe that fitness is meant to necessarily always be easy. It takes hard work and sacrifice to reach large goals. Prepping for a bodybuilding competition was probably the hardest thing I have ever had to do. For 16 weeks I followed a strict meal plan, worked out 2 times per day, and missed out on dinners, parties, and other social events because I was so exhausted and could not afford to fall off my plan. Although I have no plans of ever competing again, nor do I recommend it to many people, it pushed my limits far beyond where I thought they could go. I learned true hard work, perseverance, and sacrifice.

  • Don’t compare your journey to anyone else’s journey- There are no 2 fitness journeys alike. Everyone starts at a different place, and no one’s progress moves at the same pace. Different exercises and nutrition habits fit different lifestyles and that’s ok. Just because one person is getting results from one particular workout or diet does not mean it HAS to work for you as well. As I stated above, it is necessary to try new things, however, it’s okay if not everything works for you.

  • Be careful who you are looking up to and taking advice from- There are hundreds of social media accounts promoting this diet, or that diet, or this exercise, and that protein shake. It can be very overwhelming to try and decipher which information is accurate. See what licensure or certifications people have. Even if something looks pretty and sounds good, do your research before just listening to anyone’s advice. Also know that it is illegal for anyone who is not a registered dietitian to sell meal plans or give nutritional advice.

  • Love yourself along the way- I promise you won’t get very far by exercising and dieting out of hate for your body. Focus on overall health and let go of the idea that you have to fit a certain mold to qualify as “fit” or “healthy.” I was not a happier person when I was 20 pounds lighter. I was not a happier person when I only ate a range of 10 foods or worked out twice a day. I am a happier person now that I have a healthy relationship with food, and a balance between exercise, school, work, and a social life.

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I am empowered and poised because I have taken chances and learned to believe in myself. I am proud of both my successes and my failures and have learned from my mistakes. I have grown to love the woman that I am instead of only looking toward the woman I want to be.

You are worthy of feeling good, loving your body, and living a healthy life. Do workouts you enjoy, eat foods that you love, and spend time with people that lift you up and bring out your best self. Fitness is not meant to decrease your quality of life, it is meant to enhance it. Take advantage of your ability to move and access healthy, nourishing foods. And love yourself unconditionally along the way.