During one of the toughest times in my life, I would write “be brave” on my wrist as a reminder that I was strong enough to push through each and every day. Those two words helped in many small ways. During these blue seasons, finding ways to persevere through the fog was so important! On days when my depression was heavy, simply getting out of bed and going to class was a struggle. One of the only things that got me through these times was a painting class. During my years at Belmont, I rekindled a love for art that I had long forgotten about. Painting had always been a passion for me that I learned from my grandmother. On those rough days I would use the energy from this passion as a means to power through, and I would take courage in knowing that even just getting out of bed to go paint at school was brave.
So flash forward a few years, a couple of busted relationships, low points, and bad days later, and I've finally found my true self. Being brave now meant coming to the realization that I didn’t need anyone by my side to be “happy.” Me, myself, and I were more confident than I had ever imagined and completely capable of being strong and independent.
This evolution may have taken a few years, but it wasn’t until recently that I realized those small words written on my wrist during a tough time had finally become an integral part of my essence. As I wrote “be brave” I actually became brave and learned how to persevere and fight for the life I knew I could have. I went from BE BRAVE to I’M BRAVE!
BRAVE because I had the courage to move away from home/family, buy a house, and start a new life and job here in Nashville.
BRAVE because I learned that I’m capable of being alone, single, and building my life without someone by my side.
BRAVE because I wake up everyday and fight hard to be authentic and honest about my struggles.
BRAVE because I take care of my fur baby Ellie and would protect her at all costs.
BRAVE because I’m ME.
"I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear."
We all feel afraid from time to time, but we also all possess the courage to push through those fears. Don't let your mind, social media, school, work, etc rob you of your confidence. Extend yourself some grace when things are tough and ALWAYS speak kindly to that girl looking back at you in the mirror!
Remember to always be you.
Funk. No, not the music. The kind of funk where everything is going just as planned, but you can’t seem to get out of the dumps. Lately everything in my life has been going just right. I graduated from college, had a month of downtime and got to do fun things like festivals + time with family, have the perfect paid internship lined up, and plans to move into an adorable little cottage in two months. Despite these amazing things, I have been feeling an unexplainable down. Honestly, the only thing getting me through it is regular therapy (with an awesome therapist) and continuous exercise + movement.
Depression can be a real kick in the butt most of the time, but by concentrating on the things you are grateful for, we can remember all the amazing reasons to be happy. After my last therapy session my counselor said something at the end that really stuck with me. What she said wasn’t complex but was still powerful.
It may seem like such a simple phrase but honestly it powered me through my day. After therapy I had to rush to let Ellie out, eat a quick dinner, and bolt out the door to head to a CPR class. By the end of the day I was burnt out, anxious about life, but still found it in me to do some yoga and study for my personal training exam. Without doing yoga, I would have definitely spiraled down into a pit of anxiety about work and life, but it was my resilience that pushed me to do something to make a change. By the end of the day I had turned my funk into more of a Bruno Mars “Uptown Funk.”
Stop, wait a minute
Take a sip, sign a check
Julio, get the stretch!
Ride to Harlem, Hollywood
If we show up, we gon' show out
Smoother than a fresh jar of Skippy
What does it mean to be resilient?
Via Google Definitions
Resilience comes in many forms. It might be recovering from a physical injury or battling the demons in your head; but either way, the fight to withstand difficulties is never an easy one. My trek to graduation (like a lot of folks) wasn’t all sunshine and roses, and the battle to keep pushing through eventually wore me down to the ground. As I take this time post-graduation to rebuild, I’ve found a number of resources shown below that are really helpful tools! Here are just a few of the free options for uplifting your soul after a tiring journey:
Via the “Headspace” app
Headspace has been my go-to meditation app for probably 3 years now!! They offer an endless number of meditations, sleep casts, videos with advice, and short visualizations. If I’m ever restless and thinking too much at night, one of my favorite ways to relax is by turning on one of their sleep casts. These long stories help turn your brain off and lull you to sleep in no time! I also love their short SOS meditations when I’m feeling extra anxious.
Youtube: Yoga With Adriane
Via “Yoga With Adriene” on Youtube
Yoga with Adriene is, in my opinion, the BEST way to get in some ~free~ yoga sessions. Whether I’m travelling or at home, these sessions are always easily accessible. Adriene has a wide variety of videos ranging from “Yoga for Beginners”, “Yoga for Back Pain”, or even “Embrace”, which is yoga for embracing the real you with self-love and acceptance!
Books: No Mud, No Lotus - Thich Nhat Hanh
Via Google Books
My last semester of college I began reading this book which is on “The Art of Suffering.” Thich Nhat Khan talks about how without suffering through the mud we can’t find happiness (like the lotus flower). He also believes that when we learn how to suffer correctly, we suffer much less. When there is immense change in our lives there will always be mud and all of its messiness. Thinking of suffering in terms of the lotus flower, we can learn that there will be sunshine and transformation at the end of the day. This book’s message will really help you renew your perspective!
Click the link below and head to the book section to purchase "No Mud, No Lotus":
Podcasts: Press Send with Chinae Alexander - Timothy Goodman - "This Is Not A True Story"
Via Press Send podcast
Press Send Podcast is my #1 necessity for long car rides! Chinae brings in the most uplifting, strong women (+ a few awesome men) to talk on her podcast every week and always has BOMB advice (while also throwing in some fun humor). One of the most uplifting Press Send podcasts features Timothy Goodman. This particular episode applauds the benefits of therapy, but I also love how they advocate seeking mental health professionals at the beginning of every episode! Being vulnerable about mental health is not always easy, but ending the stigma and opening up about our struggles makes the world a much more connected + less alienating space.
Here for you + as always feel free to reach out!
**Opinions about products/services featured in this blog are, first and foremost, ALWAYS my genuine, honest opinion. Purchases made through these links, however, do generate a small portion of proceeds.
Authenticity is always challenging for me, but I try my best to show my real/everyday life (with all the ups and downs) through everything Sweaty Happy Healthy. I’m just a gal in my 20’s trying to find my way and struggling like everybody else. I have anxiety/depression, confidence issues, self-doubt, and sometimes forget to eat breakfast. The whole point is that we are all human; and as long as we try to be authentic, real, and honest, we can make the world a better place!
Making the choice to show up as your true self every day is not always an easy task. Most of the time we want to cover up our imperfections instead of embracing them, and we often have a hard time loving ourselves just as we are. Being proud of your unique traits makes you stand out from the crowd! Authenticity can give you a sense of freedom and can release you from trying to be something you are not.
Being honest can also give others the courage to be themselves around you. By creating this blog I truly hope to help people feel like they are not alone in their struggles! I’ve learned that by being transparent and by sharing my vulnerability, I'm more confident about who the real me is; and in turn, others are more comfortable in being their true selves with me. This chain reaction is such a pure and beautiful thing and brings about so much growth and honesty within relationships.
True liberation comes from being non-apologetic about the genuine you. We all live an ever-changing story and finding our authentic selves can take time and reflection, but it's worth the search! Discover who you really are (or want to be) and be passionate about that person!!
Be bold+ be brave+ be YOU
After having CDiff my colon just couldn't handle anymore gluten and dairy (both of which can trigger your body's immune response + lead to inflammation). In the early weeks of radically changing my diet, I struggled SO BAD with what types of food to buy for home. Everything I had typically gotten at the grocery before either had gluten or dairy or way too much sugar + preservatives. Needless to say, over the last 8 months I have tried LOTS of different types of products! But today I’m gonna break it down to my top ten favorites to keep in your pantry and fridge when you’re looking for some AWESOME healthy alternatives.
1) Rao’s Tomato and Basil Marinara
Rao’s marinara comes straight from Italy and you can totally tell!! The typical store bought marinara has added sugar or high fructose corn syrup and all kinds of other ingredients like “natural flavorings”, soybean oil, and unhealthy preservatives. I used to ALWAYS buy Prego but after changing my diet I knew I needed to find a better alternative + Rao’s tastes even better than what I had been eating!!
2) Banza Pasta
Mmmmmmmm!!!! I can’t get enough of Banza chickpea pasta! ALSO they sell this in bulk at Costco which is a big win for me considering how often I have pasta nights lol. Be careful not to boil it too long, because the chickpea pasta will tend to fall apart when overcooked. All in all I’ve found this to be my favorite gluten free alternative to pasta PLUS it’s loaded with protein from the chickpeas!
3) Oatly Oat Milk
Almond milk has never been my favorite milk alternative, so when I became completely dairy free, I knew I would need to find a more tasty option. I sampled cashew, coconut, and soy milk but didn’t just loooovvee any of them. Not gonna lie, Oatly probably attracted me mostly with their marketing, but I am so glad they did! Their oat milk is super creamy like real milk and makes pancakes and cupcakes taste just like ones made with cow’s milk. Oatly is a little hard to find in stores, so I always stock up when I’m at my parent’s Whole Foods in Georgia!
4) Healthade Kombucha
Ahhhhh Healthade, you are just too good to me. Kombucha definitely isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but PLEASE pour me an extra glass! Healthade is organic, non-GMO, GF, vegan, certified raw, and much much more. My favorite flavor is the “Power Greens” which has wheatgrass, spirulina, and camu camu. If you’re looking for just a classic booch, go with the Pomegranate flavor which is my second fav! It's super important when recovering from C-Diff to introduce more probiotics into your diet, and kombucha is such an amazing source!
5) Panda Puffs Cereal
Okay, if I told you I only ate this occasionally I'd be lying. I wish I could say that I eat a wonderfully balanced breakfast every morning, I just don’t. Most of the time I tend to be running late, and cereal is such a quick + delicious option for me. Panda Puffs are organic, non-GMO, and gluten free + taste JUST LIKE REESE’S PUFFS!!! Run to the store and buy a box ... you'll love it!
6) Once Upon a Farm Baby Food
“But Grace, this is baby food? Why the heck is it on your Top 10 list of foods?” Okay okay, I get it, I’m weird, but Y’ALL this stuff tastes amazing. The yummiest flavor is the “Wild Rumpus Avocado” which has pineapple, banana, avocado, and spearmint. These little pouches are a great pick me up for a midday slump and a quick snack. It’s like a mini smoothie on the go!!
7) Amy’s Vegetable Soup
When I first started eating healthier, I struggled to find good/wholesome things to keep in the pantry for when I’m in a time crunch. This vegetable soup is such a good side or snack with any meal! It practically tastes homemade because the veggies in it are so fresh! Amy’s Kitchen makes a ton of great foods, but this one is definitely at the top of my list!
8) Skinny Pop Popcorn
Who doesn’t love a good movie night?! And you can’t have movie night without popcorn! Finding a non-dairy/non-GMO + yummy popcorn was hard, but this Skinny Pop that pops up in its own box really hits the spot. It tastes so buttery and delicious you would never know it's non-dairy!
9) Fitaid Recovery drink
Fitaid was actually a must have in my fridge long before I made the commitment to clean up my diet. I love the boost of energy it gives me from the green tea + the amazing blend of vitamins is a huge bonus! If you’re ever dragging halfway through the day Fitaid is the best way to snap out of it. Fitaid is typically sold as an after workout recovery drink, but TBH I like the extra vitamin and energy pick-me-up at any point before 3 PM (because ya girl doesn’t wanna be up all night hyped on caffeine).
10) last but most certainly NOT least, Simple Mills EVERYTHANG!!!
Simple Mills was founded by Katlin Smith who’s mission was to create foods with handpicked ingredients to nourish your body (nothing artificial EVER). They are truly a game changer in the gluten free world and deserve MAJOR shoutouts! Not only are they gluten free, but their ingredients are so REAL + SIMPLE + NATURAL! The photo above includes my main pantry staples like banana bread mix, cake mix + icing, almond flour crackers, toasted pecan cookies, and pancake mix! These are my top Simple Mills faves, but I could name so many more of their products that I’m truly obsessed with. You will never be disappointed with ANYTHING they make!!
So there you have it ... My Top 10 go-to's! Feel free to comment with questions or check out my Instagram for more suggestions (@sweatyhappyhealthy). The good news is these days there are a multitude of great options out there for anyone with dietary restrictions or for those just looking to eat healthy. So enjoy friends!
My name is Grace Austin, and about three years ago I started sharing my journey on a newly created fitness Instagram. What began as a fun way to update friends about my favorite healthy food, workouts, and life routines grew into what I now call “Sweaty Happy Healthy.”
These three years have brought a lot of growth opportunities. I've muddled my way through trials and hardships but also graduated from Belmont University (a place I have really come to love). Through this blog I hope to inspire, guide, and encourage that you are never alone … no matter what you are going through! During my life I have been through trauma, tough breakups, moving to new cities, battled an eating disorder, had an unhealthy relationship with fitness, struggled with anxiety and depression, dealt with chronic hives, and battled a colon infection called “C-Diff.”
Photo courtesy of mantraband.com
After having C-Diff I made the commitment to go gluten and dairy free for the sake of healing my gut. 7 months in on my new and improved diet, I can tell you that I absolutely feel like a brand new person! For many years prior to the infection, I struggled with “leaky gut” which is a condition where your intestines are permeable allowing toxins and bacteria to leak into your bloodstream…After reading the book “Eat Dirt” by Dr. Josh Axe, my views completely changed on how I use household items and on the quality of food I put into my body. Through this blog - I plan to share the insight I have learned and let you know about all of my favorite foods & products that I now incorporate into my daily life!
Photo courtesy of sheisrecovering.com
I believe in strong women, badassery, diminishing mental health stigmas, and movement for the sake of moving. Plus I positively believe that fitness can/should be for everyone (+ be fun!), and that all of us can benefit from a little doggy love! Welcome to Sweaty Happy Healthy where I hope you will benefit from my trials & challenges and find ideas that can help make your life easier and a little more interesting! Stay tuned for more blog posts coming soon!
Via @ReeseWitherspoon Instagram
P.S. You can always get through life a little easier with some Lizzo music in your life…Go check out my spotify playlist “HAPPY JAMS” for some @lizzobeating badassery.
Via @pinksilverfox Instagram
be bold + be brave + be YOU!