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Why I Play: Volleyball Is More Than Just a Game

Why I…” explores the passion of athletes — from all walks of life, at different levels and with diverse interests — in their own words. Finding your passion is key to staying motivated to live a healthy lifestyle.

Kelsey is a professional volleyball player, 2016 Olympic Bronze medalist for TEAM USA and Under Armour sponsored athlete.

At 10 years old, I might have been the lankiest, most incredibly awkward kid you ever saw. I wasn’t really sure where I fit in, but I knew I had a comfort zone in athletics. That was always where everything made sense. When I started volleyball, it was a way to develop skills that would translate to other sports I played. Learning the game and the relationships that were created made me a bit of a gym rat, and I could never quite get enough.

Eventually, I received a full scholarship to the University of Tennessee. I finished my collegiate career transferring my senior year to the University of Nebraska and upon graduation, had my first tryout with the Indoor Women’s National Team. For some reason, I was lucky enough to be kept around. I spent my first summer out of college training and competing day in and day out with the best for a chance to make a spot with the travel team. Just five minutes after coach Karch Kiraly told me I made my first roster and was headed to Montreux, Switzerland, I called my sister crying. I didn’t know then that I would eventually go to the Olympics, but for the first time, I felt it was attainable.

“I knew that I had a comfort zone in athletics.”

To understand what we do as professional volleyball players, you have to understand our schedule. In the summer, from May to September, we represent Team USA, traveling and competing for major titles against  top international teams. The rest of the year, we play professionally overseas in various leagues. I have been fortunate to play in China, Italy, Puerto Rico — and this coming year, I will play in Istanbul, Turkey. It’s an added benefit to turn what you love into a career, but volleyball has given me so much more than just a way to support myself. To travel, eat, live and experience other cultures from a local’s vantage point has changed my life. The new friendships and unforgettable experiences have made me who I am today.

I absolutely love what I do. It’s my dream, and I’m living it every single day — but it doesn’t come without tradeoffs. We play year-round with two weeks off between each season. I see my family about 5–6 times a year. I’ve missed countless holidays, weddings and reunions. In the gym, it’s intense. A group of 30 women, filtering in from all over the country, vies for a spot on the 12-man roster, with just 3–4 in my position as an outside hitter. The entire experience is an emotional roller coaster from the highs of winning that motivate me to want to achieve more, to the lows that make me believe I am not good enough or I’m undeserving of the opportunity at hand.  


READ MORE > A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A COLLEGE VOLLEYBALL PLAYER


At the 2016 Olympics alone, I experienced all of this in a matter of 48 hours. Our team headed into the semifinals against Serbia, a team we beat earlier in the tournament. After two and a half hours of an all-out mental and physical battle, we were defeated. The United States would yet again leave the Olympics without a gold medal in volleyball. I don’t think anyone slept that night. I ran the entire game back in my head over and over again. As I write this, it still hurts just as bad, but one of the greatest moments in my career quickly followed. Just one day later, we fought together as a team to win bronze. While it wasn’t gold, the power of what it represented and the bond it created with my teammates, is just as gold.

“It’s the truest expression of myself, it’s what drives me to be a better player, a better person, and to pursue something that has never been done before …”

I fell in love with this game because the volleyball court was where I found myself most free and it still is. I always say that if you want to know who I am, watch me play, nothing defines me more than when I’m on the court with my teammates competing. It’s the truest expression of myself, it’s what drives me to be a better player, a better person, and to pursue something that has never been done before — win an Olympic gold medal for the USA Indoor Women’s National Team.

Volleyball has given me so much more than I have ever been able to give it. I’ve learned to face pain and know I’ll be OK. I’ve learned some of my strongest, most loving relationships have come from people I can’t speak the same language with. I’ve learned who you are is not determined by anyone but yourself. And I’ve learned that gratitude is the most essential key to living.

Hometown: Bartlett, Illinois
When I’m not playing volleyball, I’m…: playing beach volleyball or making new recipes
Guiltiest pleasure: Dark chocolate, red wine
Favorite city to visit: Anywhere in Italy, Chicago or Santa Cruz
Cat or dog: Dog

The post Why I Play: Volleyball Is More Than Just a Game appeared first on Under Armour.

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9 Ways to Lose Weight That Aren’t Just Diet and Exercise

The formula for weight loss is, by now, probably burned into your brain: Exercise more often and eat a healthier diet. But there’s good news if that sounds old hat to you. Sleep, stress levels and even your plate size can affect your weight-loss efforts if you’re doing them the right way. Try these nine strategies to reach your goals faster.

1. EAT (AND ONLY EAT) AT MEALS

When was the last time you had a meal and focused only on the food and the company? If you typically eat while working on a computer, answering texts, watching TV or even reading a book, it’s time to stop. British researchers reviewed 24 studies on distracted eating and found that not only do multitasking eaters consume more at their meals, they eat even more later on. “When you are eating, just eat,” says Mike Roussell, PhD, author of “The MetaShred Diet.” “This will help your body cognitively process the amount of food that you are eating, making you more satiated at the end of the meal.”

2. BUDDY UP

We all get by with a little help from our friends: “There’s nothing like the support of another person to help you reach your goals,” says Keri Gans, RDN, author of “The Small Change Diet.” “You are more likely to hit the gym if you know your friend is counting on you.” And you can also team up to healthy cook meals together, whether you’re cooking for one or the whole family.

3. SHRINK YOUR PLATE

Halving the size of your plate can help you eat 30% less food, according to research by Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab. The study authors say you naturally serve yourself less with a small plate or bowl.

4. GET YOUR ZZZ’S

Yes, sleep counts in the quest to drop pounds. “Research has shown that the less hours of sleep you get, the more likely you are to make poor food choices in the morning,” Gans says. “When you’re overly tired, those sugar-loaded breakfast options become more desirable.” It may also help to…

5. INVEST IN BLACKOUT CURTAINS

Or at least a sleep mask. Too much light in your bedroom may make it harder to lose weight, according to a 2014 study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology. Researchers looked at the sleep habits and weight of more than 113,000 women over nine years and discovered that women who slept in the darkest rooms were 21% less likely to be obese compared to those sleeping in the brightest rooms. They believe light inhibits the production of melatonin, a hormone that makes us sleepy.


READ MORE

> Your Quick & Easy Guide to Losing Weight in 2017
> Your 3-Minute Guide to Better Health & Nutrition in 2017
> The 5 Worst Things to Say to Someone Who Is Losing Weight
> What Is the Sleep-Weight Connection?


6. KEEP A FOOD AND MOOD JOURNAL

“Writing down everything you eat and the moods you are experiencing throughout the day can definitely be eye-opening,” says Gans. This will help you spot habits, which means you can then take action to change those habits, she explains. For example, you may notice that every time you feel anxious about work deadlines, you grab chips from the vending machine. Find a new habit — like taking a short walk, making a cup of tea or listening to a short meditation — and start doing that every time you’re drawn to those chips.

7. MANAGE STRESS

Stress has been linked to weight gain for years, and a new study suggests a stress-response protein is the culprit. University of Florida Health researchers found that mice under stress produced more of a protein called betatrophin. “Betatrophin reduces the body’s ability to break down fat, underscoring a link between chronic stress and weight gain,” wrote the study’s lead author, Dr. Li-Jun Yang. So do yoga, meditate, take walks outside — do whatever helps you chill when life has you ready to snap.

8. DRINK

Water, that is. In a study in the Annals of Family Medicine, people with higher body mass indexes were more likely to be inadequately hydrated. The study authors say that, in addition to sipping H20, eating produce that is high in water such as watermelon, cucumber and zucchini can help you stay hydrated and curb cravings.

9. COOK MORE OFTEN

Yes, cooking takes time, but it’s worth it for your waistline. People who cook most of their meals at home eat fewer calories and carbs, and less sugar and fat than people who cook less — even if they’re not trying to lose weight, Johns Hopkins researchers reported. Those who cooked six or seven nights a week even ate less when they did go out to eat. If you feel lost in the kitchen, take a cooking class or ask a friend who likes to cook to let you be their sous chef for a few days.


GEAR UP FOR YOUR NEXT WORKOUT

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It’s Not Just About the Scale: 20 Victories by MyFitnessPal Users

New year, new you! If only it were that simple, right? We’ve said this before and it bears repeating: Just because you’re not dropping pounds doesn’t mean your weight-loss journey isn’t a success. It isn’t always about stepping on the scale. Weight loss is much more: creating lasting habits that change your body chemistry and help you live a healthier life. We can think of no better way to celebrate this fact than by sharing what we call “non-scale victories.” Have a look at what you told us:

1. Sometimes, maintaining is a victory in itself.

2. Way to get low.

3. A picture is worth a thousand words.

4. We’re happy to see less of you!

5. Now that is bloodwork any doc would be proud of.

6. Victories start with some serious goal setting.

7. Give that brownie the hand.

8. Now that is a non-scale victory with a view!

9. Everyone needs an “accountabilibuddy.”

10. You’ve come a long way!

11. Hope you made enough for all of us.

12. The sky’s the limit!

13. Now that’s community activism.

14. Restraint with a capital “R.”

15. Step by step wins the race.

16. Crisps, chips or fries — it’s all about self-control.

17. Now that is gorgeous.

18. Get after it!

19. We heart you back, Mr. Inspiration.

20. You’ve got the power in you — nice work!

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Why Just Will Power Is Not Enough For Weight Loss?

Why Just Will Power Is Not Enough For Weight Loss?

Hello All!!

Most often people blame their inability to lose weight on the lack of will power. Sad as it may seem, relying on your will power alone to lose weight is not practical and not even sustainable.

Your ‘will’ alone cannot help you reach your weight loss goal. Just will power is not enough for weight loss. For lasting weight loss, you need sustainable behaviour changes and a relationship with food that is healthy. These two things are simply nonnegotiable if you are looking for a way to reach your ‘happy weight’.

With will power alone, you may initially lose weight but if you don’t adopt a sustainable behaviour and a good relationship with food, you will simply gain back all the weight you lost. This way you will end up being sad!

Motivation and will power will help in kick-starting your health journey but it won’t take you too far. We are humans after all and we need a realistic plan in order to keep going.

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Here is what you should be doing for lasting results!

1) Don’t fall for weight loss gimmicks

You should avoid products or diet plans that say that you can slim down in 5 days by drinking just a juice or buy completely shunning carbs. Anything that is super extreme is far away from a balanced diet and is just a quick fix. Any weight lost with the help of shortcuts is regained in no time. The bottom line is that you won’t get lasting results with these gimmicks.

2) Eat foods that are healthy as well as fun!

Pizza, ice-cream, creamy cold coffee and other yummy foods are often off the list when you are on a weight loss diet. However, this is not the best strategy for a long lasting loss of weight. Doing so will lead to lots of cravings or probably binge eating. Instead of avoiding them as plague, you can allow yourself to have a little bit of them once in a blue moon!

3) Your weight goals must be achievable

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You cannot lose weight overnight or in a few days. If someone is offering you rapid weight loss, just turn around and run away. Weight loss of more than half  to 1 kilo a week is not sustainable for many. Make sure that your goals are achievable. You need to measure things and keep re-evaluating your goal every week to stay on track.

4) Learn to differentiate hunger and fullness

Half of your weight loss battle is won when you know what, when and how much you should eat. The great news is that you can use the internal hunger and fullness cues of the body as a guide. Those who are able to keep weight off without dieting have already mastered this tool.

5) Have an answer to your ‘why’

Are you aware of the reason behind your urge to lose weight and get fit? You need to turn your motivations into something more than just will power. You have to turn them into purpose. You must write this down to give your goals more meaning.

The next time if you have trouble reaching your goals, or feel as if you have failed, take the actions that are sustainable and long lasting as above mentioned.

Now do you feel that Just Will Power Is Not Enough For Weight Loss?

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