#118 – Amanda Presgraves | Peeling back the layers of an athlete
Amanda Presgraves is a former competitive swimmer and a world-level teen USA triathlete. We talk about reframing negative experiences, living with ADHD, and her work in food and nutrition with her new book coming out soon entitled “The Non-Recipe Book”.
THIS EPISODE AT A GLANCE
[05:18] Getting into Endurance
[07:37] Life Post-Career
[10:51] Beginner’s Mindset
[18:48] Mindfulness and Being a “Multipotentialite”
[31:19] Swimming Culture Towards Men
[35:36] Exploration with Food
[41:20] Being Compassionate for Your Food
[50:54] Food is Medicine
[55:52] Growing Up With ADHD
[01:03:25] Embracing Uniqueness
[01:10:11] Gratitude and “Our Best Self Story”
[01:15:35] Amanda’s Book Recommendations
Amanda, thank you so much. We’ve been going for 20 minutes now.
Finally been able to hit record, essentially. Yes, but we’ve we’ve I think we’ve got some some path ahead of us in this.
Oh, we sure do. We have a couple of pots.
That’s for sure. But that first off, just again, thank you for finding some time to do this and and coming home.
I’m so excited to be here. Thanks for having me.
So, I mean, we actually did speak at your your birthday coming up on the weekend and you loved how you were. I’m getting my energy. I’m going out and doing my walk this morning. And where did where did you go this morning? So I you didn’t ask where you are?
Oh, yeah. So I’m in Harrisonburg, Virginia. So you see up there, it’s a small town in the Shenandoah Valley on the East Coast of the United States. So the geography is pretty primed for getting outside. It’s super assessable to the outdoors and outdoor recreation. A lot of the community that lives here lives here. It’s like professionally exercise because it’s like super affordable living, awesome people.
And you have access to the outdoors. And, you know, relative to like places like Florida or the South that are warm all year, like it’s pretty mild here. Like we get snow. So you get to do multiple outdoor activities, but it’s not frigid where you can’t get out on your bike. So I’m in Harrisonburg, Virginia. I went to school here, moved away, came back, and I’m here for good.
I just love working and living here. I actually work remotely, so there’s nothing like keeping me to this area. It just because I love it and where I went this morning. So I actually decided to move the sunrise, celebrate and birthday celebration to tomorrow because the sky is going to be more clear. But my dog and I got out.
I wish I actually can show you a really nice photo of our morning. We got out and caught the sunrise at our local.
People are local, not out.
Yeah we just it’s so it’s so grounding to go out especially when you’re you have a lot going on. And I think we can forget how simple it can be to just get outside, listen to our breath, move our feet get in touch with our self and go hang out with your dog. So we ran this morning and we had a great time.
Then I came home to like, a delicious breakfast and yeah, talk about an energizing way to start the day. Let’s just keep that rolling.
Yes. Yeah. So that’s before we go into many of the different topics that we got. Let’s dove into your world of athletics. Sports. What for those that have not met, you heard about you. Your world is an endurance and what? What got you into that? Like, where did that start for you?
Well, I was one of those swimmers growing up, though. I dedicated, committed 20 47 swimming like since the age of four. I was a year round swimmer. So I spent my entire life going to practice twice a day, 2 hours each. I was a man to the summer. And so that was, that was like my gateway into endurance movement, except that now I’m I’m the opposite of specializing in one thing.
I do a lot of different sports. And and what got me to that was I spent my whole life specializing in one thing. I did play soccer for a long time, and I always loved running and I love doing all these things. But like we were told, like when we when I grew up in athletics, I’m turning 28 tomorrow.
So it was a little bit of a different generation. You could only do one thing and you had to focus on that or you were not dedicated to that sport. And so I really prided myself on not like I I knew that that was something I wanted to do through college. And I went on to swim at James Madison, which is a Division One school here actually in Harrisburg, and I swam breaststroke, so I was a breaststroke on that team.
But it was during my junior year, I actually had I tore both my labor arms in my head and I had to get surgery, and I wasn’t really sure if I was going to be able to continue swimming because I don’t know how familiar with swimming, but the pressure because the one with like the frog feet. So it is like super demanding on your hips.
And that was an incredibly tough time for me having something that I identified as I did my whole life and all I knew and it was like immediately snapped for me. So I definitely spiraled into you know, I had I really had a hard time mentally rubbing my head around that and being like, well, like what am I now?
Like, who am I going to be? What am I going to do?
How old? How old are you there?
So I’m 28 now. I was then I was it was after my sophomore year of college show. I was about 20, 20, 21.
Right. Okay. Yeah. So it’s, it’s not teens. It’s actually a little bit, a little bit older and this is where it so sorry. I just wanted to get an understanding of whether that, what age you were at, where you were starting to have these emotions and feeling that.
College like when I was in college and so many athletes experience that’s post like when they retire like it’s like the same thing that people go through after the Olympics after they finish their career in college and they’re trying to understand who they are in this world. And I’m so fortunate. I actually was I was forced to face that while I was in school.
So I spent that summer college bound and had a lot of time to think. And I kind of put all that energy, but I would always expend physically into like mental stimulation. And I ended up like starting a food truck and traveling and doing all these bigger things and realized, wow, oh my gosh, I love all these things.
Just as much as I love something. I just never knew that because all I did was swim. And so I found all these things I was passionate about. And yeah, I ended up being able to return to sport very fortunately, I had the great season after that. I took a redshirt year. That year, I traveled to the Philippines.
I studied exercise physiology over there. We hiked volcanoes and scuba dived and went into rainforest. And I just found all these other ways that I took that energy. I was putting in the swimming and found another outlet, but I I really learned from that experience. I was so much more than an athlete. And so when I graduated from college, I started exercise science.
I finished filming. I immediately went into triathlon and I always loved swimming. And it’s very rare to find a swimmer who still loves swimming because unfortunately so much of that culture really burns you out really like takes the joy out of it because it’s so demanding on you and you’re staring at a black line and it’s hard and some coaching culture falls into that.
Just a little bit of the culture. Swimming isn’t and isn’t so kind to longevity. And so right after I graduated college, I went into triathlon. I started a road triathlon. So I learned how to ride a bike for the first time. I got into running more miles and I kept swimming and I loved what it felt like to be a beginner, to, like, start something new.
But I spent my my whole life specializing in something and turned out I was good at it too. Like, I was able to get on the United States, the travel team, and go to Switzerland. And I had a lot of fun with that. What changed a little bit for me, though, was as I started to dove into these new sports, I, I just realized how much more was out there.
And especially during the pandemic, when races got canceled, I had to find like I wasn’t I was no longer doing this to race anymore. Like I was just doing this because I loved it. And so I was introduced to the trails and that’s when I got into ultrarunning and mountain biking and these like off road triathlon stuff. And yeah, ever since that, I’ve just found so many more ways to challenge myself and connect and using nature as a tool for that too.
So I’ve had a lot of evolution over the past couple of years with my relationship to sport and I just wanted to keep evolving for life. I find it so powerful. So yeah, that’s a little bit about like how I exist within the sports world right now.
Yeah. And I want to go back to something you just really quickly touched on, which was you had this beginner’s mindset and I’ve brought it about I’ve brought it up a couple of times in previous episodes, and I’m really fascinated by athletes willingness to do this, but also a lot of athletes unwillingness to do that because I believe it is one of the crucial elements, especially in a young person’s world, to be able to develop a new skill, develop a new mindset, develop any sort of realm of, of of any branch of your sporting and upbringing.
It’s a real important part of that. So I think it’s quite rare that people can easily go into it. I think you you tend to have to be coached to go through something like that. Obviously, this podcast was actually set up by Caroline Burke, who she introduced us and she was brilliant. And I know you’re part of the Rise Athletes mentorship program, which is an incredible program, an incredible group of people.
What has been you what would you say is your experience with with young athletes that have got a that’s a lesser beginner’s mindset or a perhaps a little bit of a tussle with that idea and anything that you have found that guides them through that process?
Yeah. Well, that’s a that’s a really good question. And first of all, I’m so grateful for Caroline for introducing us what she and Rebecca have done. You know, I, I looked up to them as when I was a youth athlete. So it is this reciprocal, like cyclical mentor mentee supportive relationship. And I love that. And as much as I work with these athletes, they teach me.
So much about myself and the power of rise and rise. We work with youth athletes and teen athletes to develop their mental wellness and their mindset power. And the biggest thing is showing them that their emotions are their super strength and like they can do these things. And we need people to tell us and remind us of that.
And sadly in the world that we exist and we don’t we don’t have enough belief in ourselves and we don’t have enough people showing us and guiding us. And that is so powerful. But to answer your question in terms of how what I see and people maybe a little bit of their hesitation or reservation towards being a beginner at something, it I’ll speak for my experience is in my adult life it’s it sucks to be new in the worse.
It’s something especially when you grew up as an athlete that excelled in their sport, I get it. It is scary and I’ve learned to reframe that and see that that nervousness and that that energy around doing something for the first time as exhilarating as Life-Giving like it is childlike to be able to go play outside and do that for the first time and realize, like, no one’s judging me.
I have nothing to lose here. Like, no one cares if I have to walk my bike up the trail except myself. And I think that’s the hardest thing that I see in all these athletes. We’re hard on ourselves especially as competitive athletes. We put very high pressure on what we think we need to do that it doesn’t always come from our coaches.
It comes from what we know that what we’re capable of, and we want to see that to fruition. And that’s the biggest thing that I work with these athletes on, is working through that pressure and not against that seeing it, that that is their care. When we when we feel an emotion such as pressure or nervousness, it comes from a place of it mattering to us.
And like when we recognize that and we can tap into that, we can use it to our advantage and so that’s the biggest thing I really see. And I think that parallel between being a beginner is like encouraging them to lean into that. And so it’s by like asking Thought-Provoking questions just like, really like what does that feel like in our body to to be given a set and not be sure if you can complete it for the first time.
But that’s where confidence comes from. That’s where like understanding our self, it’s like we can step up in that moment that we know of ourselves as like being that person that can do that. So when we come up against a challenge, I know myself as a man that I’m the one that can do that. And when we write that narrative and write that message, that is so powerful.
And so I try to like show them that every day when we’re talking, like talking about their practices that week, talking about a challenge that they had, it’s like you do recognize you overcame that. And that started here didn’t start here in our body. It started in our heart and our mind. And like when they see that they are so much more than their physical ability, then that carries over to life too.
And that’s why I love being a beginner and stuff, because if I could conquer that thing and like take that rock garden on the trails and mountain biking and I did it and I it was so hard for me. I can do that in life too. Yeah, I can do the things that make me nervous and that’s so powerful.
We all need to feel that strength and that comes from ourselves and are showing us that we can.
Yeah, that I often say that with that whole beginner’s mindset and even just going into something new, we feel that anxiety or lack of confidence because we don’t have much under control. We don’t have as much control as we wish we’d hoped. And there’s always this. There’s the blend of the illusion of control and the demon of expectation which is I am right, I am not in control of this moment, but my expectation is that I should be or that I should be achieving some high level of expertize in this when actually the definition of anxiety really is just trying to control things you can’t control so go into I said to a young young lad that I was working with last night and say that you can’t control the outcome of this right now because we’re not working on an outcome based thing we’re trying to work on. Can you put in as much effort into getting better at this? Can you focus on your breath right now? All of these things, let’s grab as many handles as we can that you can control.
And then suddenly that anxiety drops, confidence increases, and the experience becomes way more. And I go, Okay, I can get through this. The byproduct is I got better, I got I learned, and I actually achieve something at the end of it. And so that’s kind of my way of, of, of tussling through that experience.
That is such a powerful exercise to be able to identify like where can we attach this feeling of lack of control or expectation, like where is that coming from? And then how do we shift that to recognizing like where we do have control or releasing that too, like just recognizing it is sometimes enough like practicing visualization. So a lot of times when athletes are stepping up to the block and how I felt this my entire like my entire childhood, I had so much performance anxiety around growing up because I cared so much and I practiced so hard and did so well that I would be like, oh, I have to do well.
And, and I would get to the block and disagree and be like I would be able to hit these best times of practice. But when it came to a need, I could never perform. And it was because I got in my own way. But would we work with visualization and we practice we’ve already gone up to the block a hundred times and visualized, visualize that and have been there.
It’s not like it’s not as scary. And we can, we can practice calming our nervous system down and getting control of our breath and like like those sort of like self manipulation and exercise and working with our brain. Like, we all face that. I still face that. I have a really good story about a race recently that was insane where I had to I really do the same thing that I like work with these other athletes with because we still have the practice that lose.
I’m sure you have that. If we like having a conversation with someone that maybe like nerve-Wracking too, I get that way even before our podcast, I have to like take a deep breath, call myself down and like settle into my body so that way we can be more present and respond in a way that’s more truthful to us.
Yeah, no, I mean I’ve always said to people it’s really interesting teaching mindfulness, teaching, whether it’s breathing exercises, breathwork or yoga, if I’m teaching these mindful practices to people that I have to always remind them that the reason I’m teaching them is because I’ve taken an interest in them, because I needed them. I’ve seen the benefit from them.
And not only that, it’s not like my work is done. It’s not like I actually found a really interesting part of my own thought process on this the other day, which was I found myself getting caught up in the expectation to be at a certain level of expertize within these realms. So I’ve delved into now performance psychology, and it was actually in a moment of my, my a uni, an assignment that we were doing for this for this degree module.
And one of the people that was on the course had got their assignment back and it was it was on a WhatsApp group chat and they, I didn’t get the mark that I’d hoped for. And I, and I sat there and thought, I understand that you’ve put effort into it and you’re now frustrated at the result. But they were measuring their ability of what level they were got.
They had got through against that, the, the guys who were teaching it, the tutors and the lecturers and I thought these guys have had 25 years head start on, on an on this realm of knowledge and expertize in an area and you feel like you’re not at that level, your skill set might be in how you deliver it.
You are also delving into the next part of that learning experience which is going out, grabbing the piece of paper saying you’ve got the degree and then actually learning on the job. And I found myself thinking well, if I’m teaching mindfulness, I think Sam Harris said this really well once a do you follow Sam Harris? Yeah. So I heard Sam Harris say that he obviously teaches mindfulness and meditation, and he’s also a neurobiologist and he said, I’m I’m not the best neurobiologist in the world and neither am I the best mindfulness meditation expert in the world.
But he’s like, combine those two together. And I’m very good at bringing those two together. And I thought that is literally the thing that I need to hold onto all the time is that I, I was never the best athlete. I was never the, the greatest athlete I’ve ever lived. Neither am I. The finest at meditation, mindfulness breathing exercise coach on the planet because there are people out there that have been doing it longer.
But I bring those two together, and that’s what creates my power. So it’s I think when when you I don’t know where we kind of got off on that tangent, but for me is bringing it back to again, recognizing what you are and controlling and ultimately what you’re bringing to the table in that moment and finding that power from that.
Yeah, I don’t know why we went off in that time.
Well, so actually I want to go with where you were heading because we we got one of the really things about my mind is like I can kind of trace back, but I kind of liked where we were taking that conversation. So and speaking to, you know, your peer who is feeling like they were meeting the grade, that they need to get a lot of us feel that way in so many different things and we can feel like an imposter.
I’m writing a book. I have no place to be writing a book. Like, you know, I’m not a professional. I didn’t get some degree. That said, you get to write a book, but I have enough care and willingness to do it. And that’s all that matters sometimes and throughout every part of that process. You know, talking about being a beginner, I’ve come up against the challenge of is this good enough?
Like, do I even have a place to be saying this? I’m not a psychologist. I’m not a neuroscientist. I know all these things. But what I am is I have a very broad perspective across the food system, across athletics, with mindset coaching, and in their very deep experiences that I can bring a lot to the table. And I recently learned of a term called a multi potential.
I have you heard of it?
No, that sounds exciting. Tell me.
Yes. Okay, so it was, I think the podcast or it was a TED Talk that came out and it was like 2013. It’s a while ago, but Emily next she coined this term and you can, you know, people, the Renaissance person or a multi passionate person but it’s talking about some that who embodies a bunch of different identities and performs a variety of tasks but like very gracefully and they do all these things and because they do all these various activities they’re able to synthesize connections, be more adaptable, see the big picture, have more greater empathy for people because they have all these broad experiences they’re pulling from.
But what also can happen is you can feel like an imposter because you’re not an expert at Blink. Now I’ve spent my whole life hating the question and people say, What do you do? And I hate that question because I do so many different things. And I feel when I speak that to someone who doesn’t understand it makes me feel like I’m not actually good at anything because I do all these little things.
And when reality is not the case, but what the problem is like, where did we learn to assign the meaning of wrong or abnormal to doing many things and like how you’re able to work with mindset in your athleticism and business and do all these things like that’s a beautiful gift that makes you unique. But for some reason our society has said that’s its you need to do one thing and you need to do it well.
And you know, I had a lot of shame with that for a long time, and recently I’ve just learned to like step into that and think actually like I’m kind of like a life triathlete. Like I do all these sports, but I do a lot of different things too. And I think they actually most like they they support each other by doing all these things that you can be better at.
The other thing. Like just like you were saying with your own experience.
Yeah, I, I resonate with that really strongly and I funnily enough, had said this recently that I had only so I’ve retired from cricket in 2016 and it’s now nearly six years on from that and I have only really felt confident in the last few months that say just at the back end of last year introducing myself differently, I used to introduce myself as homeless, former professional cricketer, then I’ll do this, this and this.
And I have always been, whether it’s openly talking about the identity crisis that you go through, especially post-career and it just crystallized that yeah, we get wrapped up in what society hopes for us to essentially bring to the table. Like you need this label of what you do. And again, that’s for me the wrong metric that we’re measuring it by with this stamp of identity card or whatever it might look like.
What impact can you have on people is really what I like to think is what’s the impact when you are leaving a person, what can how can you make them feel? And I had an experience and and it’s based off this idea of hierarchy, this hierarchy of not whether it’s knowledge or experience and and what your background, where you’ve come from might be culture, whatever it might be.
I remember having an, an experience when I was, when I was a pro was probably first couple of years and I was in South Africa and I was playing in over there and we were training this training camp. And when we turned up to training camp, an international South African player was actually already at the training camp and he was doing his own private session so he’s playing for his nation.
But he happened to be he wasn’t on sort of on duty, but he was training with a friend and the guy who was basically feeding the ball machine for him was just a friend that he’d asked. And this guy was not a coach. You could tell very quickly that this guy was not a coach. He was merely just a hand for him to assist putting the ball in the machine.
And then after the session, as he was like clearing out balls, he asked this guy what he saw. He asked him like, what did you see? Tell me what you saw. And he was asking him for feedback. And I kind of stopped it in my straight way. My mind was like, Who are you to ask this guy? What what he’s given?
He’s not a coach. Like, why you asking his opinion? And he just literally was like, No, I was trying to do this, this, this. Did you see that? Did you? So and this guy was like energized from him, just simply asking this question and being like, Yeah, I actually saw you do this. And he goes, Oh, great, I’m going to change that.
And that’s the thing that I was working on. I wasn’t doing it. And he goes, Can we do another round? Can you look at it there? And I thought he just stripped his ego out of it in that moment and just asked this what you would class in inverted commas, everyday guy a professional like a genuine professional athlete asking just the other day, What did you see?
What did you what did you get from what you were saying? I trust your eyes I trust what you’re saying. Tell me. And I just thought that’s something that for me is sometimes missing. Like we feel there has to be this hierarchal structure to who we are, whether it’s we get advice from what they think of us, what they expect of us and really like is in the moment are you just getting better at what you’re doing?
Are you just improving the thing that you are trying to improve on, controlling what you can control? And it doesn’t really matter what who’s watching or who’s giving that advice.
So like so many different thoughts and you know, your story reminded me of Ted Lasso and the guy who was like the manager like the ball guy and then Ted like makes him a coach, but without spoiling it, you know, but it was like he was really good at it because he had a different perspective of looking at the field.
And I think actually coming into things with like a fresh eyes and fresh perspective is very valuable. And like industries outside of sports, you like you think about people that are like embedded in a certain culture are doing one thing. They look at it a certain way than someone who experiences the world through another lens, looks at it and not so powerful for innovation and change and how to take performance to the next level.
And that can be like on the field or I think of about my career to how I come at something with a different perspective. I’m not just like doing the same thing everyone else has been doing that doesn’t work for years. And like if we are open minded enough to and and humble enough to to recognize that one, I might not know everything and to, you know, I may not be an expert, but I can look at it this way.
I think that is also very powerful, and I always look at sport and I like the experience that you had. It’s like the lessons we learn from sport can carry over to life. And, and that’s what it’s about. And you always talk about like being a human before an athlete. And and I’m just like a huge proponent of that.
I don’t want people to look at me and only see me for my sport. And like for my identity. Just like you had trouble letting go and like like, say I like being comfortable identifying or introducing yourself as someone else. It’s because, like, when we say, hey, I’m a professional cricket player, it’s like there’s there’s like, credibility behind that.
Like, people like, okay, like, he’s legit. Yep. Yeah. And it’s like we’re comfortable with that persona, but, like, are we comfortable with, like you said, just being a person who has an impact or being a good person. Like, for some reason, that’s it. It isn’t valued the same.
I think we I think that there’s probably a, a side note that needs to be made with this is that we’re not saying going out and getting advice from everyone on the street about things because when you are striving for excellence, it does matter to the people that you listen to. It’s something that you do want to know that the person that you’ve had has an experience and somebody.
So it’s really tough to to find that. Well, I don’t know if it is tough to find that blend of of credibility with with humanistic traits essentially.
Because of it. Like you think about it like having a diverse team, like think about like having a sports psychologist and a nutritionist and a coach and a strict trainer. You’re not going to go to the nutritionist and ask for your strength workout. Yeah. But all those people combined blended together support you.
Yeah. Well, I’m sure you said you kind of touched on it even in the swimming culture, and you’re not the only person that has spoken. I think there was actually some things that came out in the UK about some swimming clubs and things like that, but they it has been documented that swimming cultures are pretty rough, they’re pretty tough it is, especially on women as well.
I think women definitely feel that side of that are a little bit harsher. And I I’m sure that you’ve had many coaches in there that are credible coaches but really lacked the human traits behind it. So this like everything is a spectrum, like essentially a spectrum of of what you’re going to find.
Yeah. I mean, I could dove into those experiences probably a lot that people resonate with. I’ll start with saying I’m having I did have incredible coaches that are still great friends of mine and mentors and people I talked to today. And I also had coaches that give me empathy and understanding for what so many women face in sport, unfortunately from like being eight years old and having like the fat picked off of my skin and I’m very fortunate that I was in a smaller body as a little kid, but that doesn’t mean anything.
So I was around like this is why there’s burnout and like people don’t stick with sports it’s because there was abuse, there was emotional abuse, other forms of abuse. There is like being told you need to look and look a certain way to be an athlete. That’s like why I like such a big proponent on like not looking at weight as an indicator of our performance.
Like there are like 100 of the things you can do before you look a certain way. But for some reason, especially as women in swimsuits, that is the first thing that a coach sees. And because I was in a smaller body they think I’m healthy, but I was burnt out, I was exhausted, I was chronically injured and overworked and not getting enough sleep and stress and my mood change.
But like because I looked a certain way like there was no problem with me. But we, I had coaches tell me like to eat a carrot before me. Instead of like a cliff bar or I wasn’t taken out to eat because like you had enough food today. So like, yes, we see a lot like there have been so many great coaches that have been truly pivotal to like my outlook and what I’ve learned through life.
And I’ve also had a lot of coaches that you know, kind of perpetuate the stigma of burnout and sport and abuse and a reason why, unfortunately, a lot of women don’t continue in sports past age 14, which is that is like typically the drop off for a lot of women in sports. And it’s one of the reasons I do what I do.
It rise is because like I wish I had someone. The only reason I kept going was because I knew I wanted to swim in college, but I was swimming by myself. Like I didn’t even really had teammates after a while because everyone left because it was so bad. But I was like, I want I know I need to do this.
I know I need to put up with this. I don’t really have choice. I wish I had of mentors so bad that like I could have talked to that would I’ve understood my situation and that would remind me of what matters in sport too. And that like I’m so much more beside that. I mean, that’s like the biggest thing.
Sometimes it’s like having someone hold space for you and that’s what we do. Like with working with teen athletes. Like, can you imagine how much better this road would be if someone just had a 30 minutes to talk about their feelings and chat? I think a lot of what we’re going through would be helped.
Yeah, I’ve, I’ve really started to sort of bring in the mantra of be the person that you wish you had when you were younger like that. Yeah, it’s not my own. That’s definitely been said before, and it’s the quote that I found, but it’s something that just really has resonated with me recently. It’s something that I just keep trying to with.
The work that I’m doing is I try and be that voice that change the person that you wish you so in the world. I think if we can all do that.
Ghandi said that.
I think, yeah, yeah, that’s it. Yes, it is. Of course it is.
And nine times out a ten you can just say that.
Yeah. Nine times that you just quote me and, and I, I definitely have started to feel that more recently, that’s for sure. Is it’s quite profound actually that going to take a little bit of a left turn.
Okay. I’m all about taking a turn.
Yeah. Just really grabbed the wave and turn left is I, we kind of touched on food there slightly, but your exploration with food, like where has that come from? And we can talk about the cookbook and, and the recipe or the, not the non recipe book. It’s such a cool name, such a cool where’s, where’s all that sort of come from.
The interest in that come from.
So it, it started super early on in my life. So I’m the oldest of three brothers, the only girl I had a big family growing up and both my parents work, we were all involved in sports, really busy as kids. And it started because like from first grade, my parents were like, if you want food, you need to make it yourself.
Like we don’t have time to cook for you. You are very hungry. Like my parents always joke about. I was, I was five and my parents are watching a show that I didn’t want to watch on TV. And I literally packed a hamburger, took my brothers in a wagon, and it was like and last but like I thought, to bring food for everyone, you know, as like a kindergartner or like I always thought about, okay, but I need to fuel myself for this.
So from a very young age, like I would have like three peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I like care to grapes and apples and I would just feed myself, like, and make something with whatever it was in the house. And as I started to get older, so like from a very young age, I believe there is so much power and taking ownership of our health from a young age.
Like if we I started like health science and behavior and, you know, public health. And if you want to change someone’s behavior, it needs to start young. And so I think I’m pretty much a testament of that. My dad, like my first my first birthday cake was like this, like an edible carrot cake. My parents made that like it was like vegan and like tasted horrible.
But they kind of my dad always instilled in me like pretty good eating habits. And as I got older, I begin to attach and recognize how what I put into my body changed the way I felt and performed. And so it was very much this, like, bodily experience of recognizing when I ate and ate enough and ate vegetables, I felt better and I was faster, too.
And that’s all I cared about. I just wanted to be faster. And so people kind of caught on to that. Like when I was in middle school, I had friends that would be like, can you, like, tell me what to eat and write a journal for me? And, and I, like, knew nothing. I would like kind of like buy some books on, like, how to eat as an athlete.
But I would just like stuff like self teach myself these things. But in doing that, I like developed the relationship with my body of like respect and recognizing and I needed to nourish it in order to perform. And unfortunately, that is a message not many people get. And I’m not just even going to box in women to this because eating disorders are incredibly prominent in men.
But we look at like we need less of something in order to get stronger or better. And instead typically we need to add more so to what we’re eating. And we needed to develop a very loving relationship with it, one that is as nourishing to us, as compassionate and like seeing the food and fuel as something that is giving to us and not taking from us.
And so like from a very early age, I developed that relationship with it, and I’m so grateful for that. I went on to study it in college. I study nutrition and exercise science and ended up like starting a food truck where I got local food delivered and gave students an opportunity to outlet to apply their own entrepreneurial ideas and designing the truck and creating the menu.
And and I wanted to support the local community. And I started getting a very much more broader perspective of food and recognizing the system at play in the farmers and how it’s getting to someone’s plate, how it can be used to like develop connection and culture, or how it can be used to develop skill sets for people that are just getting into the food system.
And my name is there’s a lot to that, but I have always loved cooking for myself. And so people would always be like, how do you make that? Like, what is that? And I’d be like, I don’t know. Like, I just, I just threw it together. Like, I just walked into my kitchen and like puzzle this magical meal together that was delicious.
And it started a couple of years ago when people were like, Can you, like, write a recipe book? And I was like, Yeah, that sounds like a great idea. So I’ve got this whiteboard, and every night when I started cooking, I write down like what I was doing because there is like, no other way for me to capture it because I usually just I did it by habit and would, like, put together a meal and I didn’t follow a recipe I like.
Very shortly I realize I am the last person to be writing a recipe book when I’ve literally never followed a recipe in my entire life, nor have I followed a recipe in the way I live my life. Either and I found all these beautiful parallels between the lessons and the power of the kitchen and how that carries over to the way we live, the way we knew the way we exist in the world and relate to others.
And so the book became so much more than just like me writing down what I now call my non recipes because they’re they’re very fluid they’re not very calculated or mythological. They’re invitations to check in with yourself. I find things that work with you, you know, with food and access to food. I recognize like we all need different things to fuel our day to day.
We might be working with a can, 99 cent can of green beans. We might be working on something fresh from the farmer’s market. Ultimately, it’s working with what you have and that is so important for life. We need to do the best with what we have in this moment. And if we can learn to do that in the kitchen, that carries over to the way we live too.
So I love to turn to food as a way to connect to myself and the world around me. And honestly, just like a grounding force of of nourishment from like a whole self nourishment, not just like the calories in my body, but my mood. And, and I look at food is like so much more than just like calories.
Now, it is like this beautiful, beautiful thing.
So how would you describe being compassionate for your food? How what what does that look like? For you?
Oh, that is such a beautiful question. So I think I’ll start with saying in athletics, it is so ingrained in us to be tough, to be mentally tough, to be resilient. It is like macho mentality. And we’re tough. We can’t like how dare you be soft or kind to yourself because that that’s lesser than I said what I’ve learned and there’s a lot of studies that point to this, too, is like we can be as compassionate to ourselves as we are tough.
And that’s underpinned in mindfulness. And so like there are like recent studies and like 2019 there was a study in Canada called the Zapper Effect, and they studied that like these were women that were like Rita with self-compassion and mental toughness. Basically they performed better than those that were just mentally tough and the antidote. And so based on some studies on this in terms of like mindfulness and trying to support athlete mental health, but when it comes to feeding and being compassionate towards how we feed ourselves, I think that starts with developing empathy for ourselves and checking in with our body and what we need.
And so a lot of times when it comes to food, we think of it especially as athletes, that we have to we have to earn it. I don’t get that food unless I had a hard workout unless I burn enough calories. And instead, if we looked at how it’s nourishing us and like allowing us to be our fullest in the world, allowing us to use our brain to the fullest.
And it’s not just about like performance and sport, it’s about showing up as our full self. We can see the act of cooking as something that gives and and allows us to listen to our body and indulge in this act of nourishing ourselves. Like it can be this indulgent thing. And here you’re going to love this. I recently I found or learn about this study on the Human Podcast where our mindset around eating.
Was literally about to say. I was like, This is on my head. And you need to either going to talk about Dr. Leah Crum or you’re going to mention this study but I’m going to allow you to continue this train of thought because people need to listen to this study.
It is so powerful. So I’m so glad you know that. So this study for her, well, one, they found that like how we looked about food really changed the way we digested it and responded to the food. So they gave to they had like a subject group and they gave them they told them they were giving them different caloric milkshakes.
So they told them like one was super heavy in calories and like was this indulgent treat? And then they told them that one was like more of like a diet milkshake and didn’t have that many calories. And their body digested the the two milkshakes differently even though they were exactly the same, the one that they actually digested better or like more efficiently was the higher caloric milkshake.
And the reason they think is because our body perceived that as indulgent as this treat as this like, ooh, this is so good and yummy and like how nice that we get this. Whereas the other one was kind of seen as like limiting and lesson and how we can apply that to our eating. It doesn’t mean you need to have like this high calorie milkshake all the time.
But what if we did look at our food as something that was a treat? So like I picked that the lettuce, the lettuce out of the ground, something that I tended and grew and cared for and I was like, wow, this is such a beautiful gift that I’m giving myself. Or like we go to the farmer that we buy the food from and we’re like, Thank you.
Like, this is like so fresh and satisfying. Or even just, like, recognizing the creative act of what we built in that moment and like being mindful and eating it and recognizing how beautiful and grateful we are for this. That changes the way our body digests the food and know not enough people talk about that. Like we talk about like the calories, the macros, the diets, what have we changed?
And it was our mindset around food and how we related to it. That is powerful. I’m so glad that you know that study.
Yeah. Is it was such a fascinating and I actually reached out to Dr. Leah Crum and unfortunately, which she probably going to have to wait a little while for her to come on because she’s incredibly busy.
But I’m she says I want to I can’t wait for that podcast.
I mean, yeah she came back that is probably take a while but that that that how that podcast really got me thinking because they measured that study through ghrelin which is a marker in the stomach that just triggers satisfaction and essentially like am I satisfied from this meal, like I said, or content with this meal and like you said, the milkshake was just simply a 300 calorie milkshake for both people, but one was being told it was higher.
The funny thing is, is, is we I have this I had this thing when I was being an athlete that I would I loved dark chocolate, but dark chocolate is my thing. And I really love really dense dark chocolate like so. 82. 85 is the thing that I like. And yeah, very fortunate. It’s actually good for you in a way.
So yeah, right. But but I would I would actually say to my coaches, I if I’m having some luck, I don’t eat like a 500 gram ball. I, I’m eating like literally a few squares and I’m because I’m having it for the rich, indulgent feeling that I’m getting from it because there is a mark, there is a moment where we have too much of a good thing and we overstepped that mark.
And then I’m sure everyone has felt this where they Christmas time is the best example where we just go nuts and then we feel dreadful after. And it’s like there’s this crossing of a border where we, we go come indulgent and I feel and then I overindulge and I’m willing to just go and and gorge myself on it.
So it was always this hard blend that you need to to have. And yeah, I think our outlook on how whether we train a training, you can put training into that same yeah, same element. They did the same study in that in the same podcast where they did a different study.
Cleaners. Yeah, the cleaners of the hotel rooms and they would basically do to describe it. They took a group of well, a hotel staff who were cleaning the rooms and they questioned them on whether they thought they were getting sufficient enough exercise throughout the week and throughout the day, bearing in mind they are cleaners who are going up and down stairs and stripping beds.
Carrying 50 pounds of.
Yeah, they’re just shifting masses of staff throughout the day. And I think it was something like I’m going to misquote the figures here, but it might be 70% or it might be 30% thought they, I was a third actually it was a third of them thought they weren’t getting enough exercise and they were like, Well, here’s what you’re doing.
And then by simply showing them and changing their mindset on what work actually looks like, it changed their I think they were losing weight and things like that. So it was.
Simply it’s a job power. It speaks to the power of what it can look like to change health behaviors by empowering someone to recognize what they’re doing right. And that simply changes our perception of our relationship to it. So like by simply telling that staff that you are getting enough exercise, you’re doing all these great things and motivated them and it like it, it reframes how they looked at themselves.
And that’s so powerful to change, to recognize. And they saw themselves as someone that was fit simply because they were provided that information. Oh, I love that. Study, and I love how she touched on two different things and like the realm of like health behaviors and also like nutrition and diet and like to your point on like overindulgence like so often that happens because we restrict to and especially as athletes when you’re like, oh, I can’t eat a bad food, I’m training, I can’t do this.
And if we allowed ourselves some, we wouldn’t feel the desire to overindulge because of lack. If we had an a mindset of abundance and recognizing that we always have this other chips are always in the pantry. We always have that chocolate in the fridge. If we want it, then we don’t feel the need to eat it when it’s available to us.
Like if we allowed ourselves to have it and not sort of that. Like there are certain steps and like creating a non recipe. And I talk about like tuning into your self and recognizing your need and like connecting with what you have in that moment. Because if we actually like took the second to listen to ourselves, like we have the answers on what we need to eat is the fact that there’s so much noise around us from marketing and propaganda in the food industry saying, you need this, oh, this is the diet, this is the way you need to look.
And it’s like if we put our blinders up and just listen to ourselves first, like we can hold those answers. And, and I think that’s like, what, even though I have understanding of all this nutrition knowledge and diets and yada, yada, yada, I’m like kind of like saying, ignore that. Like we set that aside for a second. We’re overcomplicating this.
Like, really this just comes down to like doing the best with what you have and eating and nourishing yourself in this moment. Like, let’s not complicate it. Like, let’s just look at our food as this indulgent, like, beautiful gift that we can have and like, it can be as simple as that. We especially, you know, in sports, we’re like, we need to have this many calories and do this.
Much like we’ll eventually get that if we just listen to ourselves. But we don’t trust ourselves enough to do that.
Yeah. Yeah. And you’d spoken about how I love all of that, and you touched on how young people don’t have that awareness. I’ve got a former guest, actually, Mark Pugh. He works with footballers and young athletes on educating them on how to like Cook.
Just that’s a foodie football.
I listen to that podcast.
Yeah. So he he actually did something this week or the week just gone with the former professional team that he used to play for. He went into the academy and he was educating them on how to cook a good nutritious meal at the end of a game. And he was doing it in the kitchen at the club. And, and it and obviously this is a professional football club, but these kids are not getting the, the sort of resource that all of the full pros are getting.
They’re going home and they’re kind of like having to fend for themselves sometimes they’re in there. They’re in other people’s homes because they’re housed in other people’s homes because they’ve come from different areas of the country. So they have to have a good understanding of how to fuel themselves. And it’s yeah, that’s a challenge when you are an athlete that just seems like calories in, calories out.
And I’m a machine, but there is a much deeper that’s where food nutrition just play such a deeper role. I think, for all of the press that he’s been getting recently, Novak Djokovic is actually someone to read it who I’ve read a lot about about his his nutrition and how he delves into like what it’s actually bringing to him.
He doesn’t I mean, he was recently in the news for his his vaccine trial, his vaccine issues of going into Australia. But he said something in an interview that he did with the BBC. He’s like, I’m I’m monitor everything that goes in my body. So I’m monitoring it. And it sounded like clinical. But I’ve seen him on some very holistic programs where he’s talking about the actual impact of that nutrition on what it means for his wellbeing.
His his movement is his cognition and everything. And it’s yeah, there might be in the calorie and calorie out element to it, but at the end of the day, what if you’re speaking in terms and we’re really turning on the performance dial here, which is what’s it actually doing for you in every aspect of your sport, every asset?
Is it your recovery, your thinking, your your emotional stability? What is it bringing to the table for you as well?
And food is medicine, right? And like if we leaned on that and it’s like the natural forms of serving our body, whether that is like anti-inflammatory properties, protein synthesis, glycogen, like it has all there’s all of these. Yes, you can get into the nitty gritty of that. You know, we can make it more simple. But like people a bit like I do like to nerd out on that sort of stuff.
I recognize sometimes that can be debilitating for people to understand and connect to food. So sometimes I don’t always go into that, but I also love to study that because it is so fascinating I wouldn’t I remember like being in class and it was like totally a osmosis Jones if you’ve ever seen that movie, but like I’m like visualizing like the cells in my body like feel like grew up like they’re like they’re growing and they’re getting like this.
They’re developing in the protein serving them. Like, I would literally imagine like things going to my body and utilizing it because like, I’m like, that’s so beautiful that if you want to like kind of look at us like, like a car, an engine, you know? Yes. It’s like we are utilizing these these carbohydrate chains and like turning it into like literally my thoughts and ideas and getting me across the pool like that is so cool.
I mean, I really like that sort of stuff, too. And so I certainly look at food as like I do understand the clinical aspects and the importance and the science behind it. And I also have a unique perspective of looking at it from like the community elements, the soulful elements, and like so many different dimensions of understanding how food, you know, is a part of our world.
Like we all got to eat, right? So like we can all relate to food at some point and we can use it to relate to each other too. Yeah, food’s powerful. So I have a lot of like my book is really long. I’m editing it down right now because I obviously have so much to say on this. And so I’m in the editing phase of it at the moment, and you know, talking about just like being a beginner and something.
And it’s really tough. Like I have a ton of imposter syndrome at times. I Yeah. And I it’s, it’s you know, editing is difficult. Cutting back your words is hard, focusing on it, you know, all of these things are bring a challenge, but I’m kind of like, I talk about leaning into that discomfort of doing it and I love learning about myself through that process of learning and writing about it.
Yeah. I will leave show no I will leave notes in the links in the show notes for that any anyone to reach out about the book. And then everything that comes up in the future will bring them in as well. That that’s let’s jump into the topic of ADHD, which is something we spoke we spoke about just before we start the podcast.
I haven’t spoken about it on the show. A of, of or even has spoken to anyone who’d been diagnosed with it. So you said you were diagnosed at the age of four was.
Yeah, I was really young yeah. So it seems to me that.
Well so yeah. Oh my whole life, here’s my life story. So I mean, I very early on my parents were like, whoa, this girl is a lot of energy, you know, the kind where like I didn’t sleep at night. School was really tough for me. Like sitting in my desk was really tough for me. I loved learning. I loved engaging, like really sad stories about like how my actions were not perceived as how I intended them to be as a kid.
But I can go into that later and say so from a very early age. My parents use medication as a form of like, helping me. Like, they were like she’s going to have trouble in school and she’s not medicated or she’s going to have trouble, like, making friends and like existing in this world because she’s very different and and that my dad grew up with ADHD too.
Then like the whole, like, medication I have, it kind of happened in like the 1970s and nineties. So like it’s very during his lifetime, like they didn’t medicate him for it and he kind of saw the effects that like school like took it took him like I think nine years to go through college like things that like he felt like his ADHD kind of hold him back.
So he didn’t want that to be the case for me. But he was always that person that understood me, that knew that like I just like had a lot of energy and I cared a lot. And so he believed in me and it was really nice to have him see me as I saw myself. But what was really hard growing up with that was just how it felt like everything that and I’m still working through a lot of the like kind of wounds from this, but so much of how I existed in the world when people knew I had ADHD, they’d be like, Oh, that energy.
That’s because she has ADHD. So like they would attribute like these negative aspects of myself to this disease. And that’s what it felt like. It felt like I grew up with this disease that needed to be remedied with medication I wasn’t allowed to exist fully as myself in the world because the world, I couldn’t handle that like I was too much for this world.
And like that being your narrative and story is incredibly unhealthy and instead of being told, Nick, Amanda, you have a gift, like your brain can hold so much information and you have this endless energy and that can be used for all these things instead it was like, you raise your hand too much in class, you have too much energy at practice.
You should be tired. You you talk too much, you have too many ideas like the things that now make me incredibly, like awesome entrepreneur, ultra endurance athlete, like, you know, friend, partner, like, those were things that were really shamed when I grew up. And I’m so glad I never lost this element of myself. But I’ll, I’ll never forget being kicked out of class because I raised my hand too much.
Like, I remember I was just telling a story like Why it’s top of mind. That’s my partner. Just the other day, I had a teacher in sixth grade, kicked me out of class for raising my hand and say I was disruptive and it was because no one else was participating. So I, I was like, oh, I, I’ll help.
And she thought I was like, being, like, mocking or something and, like, threw me out in the hallway or like, all these places were this. Our, our systems and our especially our education system wasn’t built for people that were neurodiverse that made it really hard for me. And sports was I one place that, like, I felt welcome then I appreciate it for what I held because like, what?
It made me a great leader I had energy at practice. It was an outlet for me. And so, like, I often feel like swimming saved my life because if I didn’t have that, I think my self image would be very different. How I would look at the world, how I would look at myself, it would be completely changed if I didn’t have something to see that.
Like I could use those for good and that it was really, it was really hard and I stayed medicated until I was through college and after that I stopped cold turkey. I was like, I don’t want this. Like, I feel like I am like half asking myself like I’m literally like numbing part of who I am to fit the mold and like I don’t need this to focus.
I can find other ways to have focus and I’ve changed the way that I look at focus and like it kind of going into like the, you know, focusing on one thing and being this one person, like for so long, like, I thought I had to do this one thing. And when I realize I can be multi potential it, I can have all these different things.
It was, it was like the medication for my ADHD. It was like, this is my strength. I can give this much energy into this project and also do this thing and be really good at that and then be an athlete and I can do all these things and be all these things. And if I think if I was medicated, I wouldn’t recognize that.
I wouldn’t recognize it. That is my strength and I used to see that that was so bad like I’m scattered, you know, it just so.
So empowering that to hear the almost the the definitive moment of giving up the medication is you embracing the the best part you and if I’m really honest like I’m a I’m a big believer in athletes, I there’s two things one I love the sport became the outlet that society weirdly doesn’t allow us to accept high energy people in that way.
I don’t know.
It’s disruptive it’s like hard like when you have 30 people in class it’s like they’re just trying to get you in your line and behave and just do a cold and sit down. So anyone that breaks that norm it’s it throws the system on. It’s hard, you know, and I mean, I had tons of friends. Like, it’s not like it like kept me from having friendships.
Like, my friends really appreciated who I was, but like the school system didn’t like that.
But in sport it’s clouded by in sport and it’s good. It’s absolutely adored. Like if you’ve got high energy, it’s like you’re in a position of leadership because you have got enough energy to get us through.
To, like, rally everyone up and get the designated. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And so I’m so glad I had that. Yeah. It’s like without that reframing and recognizing that this is like something that is helpful and I do want to say I’m not like, I’m not saying medicines, horrible medicine ruin my life. No, like, it was necessary. I wouldn’t I’m not going to say I would change my life and do it differently.
Like, I don’t know. And I also am not judging anyone for being medicated. There’s power to medication and like there is a time to use it and like I’m not saying like, everyone go ahead and quit what you’re doing. Like everyone is on their own journey. That was personally mine. So everyone has got to figure out I want someone to like listen to this and be like, oh, well, Amanda stopped taking her ADHD medication.
So, I mean, my parents are generally concerned with me driving a vehicle. Like they were like, she should not be on the road without her medication. Because she could hurt someone. Like that was the very serious concern. So I will not tell people that take medicine. I think there’s benefits to it and but for me, it was truly when I was allowed to step into my own power was when I stopped taking that and started looking at myself differently.
That that’s that’s where the second part of what I was thinking going is that it in all sports, I believe that in life we have to embrace this unique part of us that we offer. And you can it’s your weirdness. It’s the weirdo that’s inside of you. Like as soon as you can embrace that, that’s what just blows your potential out of the water.
Like, it just it really allows you. When I started to do that for myself and I don’t I still think I’m breaking some of the onion layers off for me. My my journey started when I went into my yoga teacher training because I did it. I did it in Hawaii. I went on the big on in Hawaii and I did it.
I was just there. It’s beautiful.
Yeah. I just went and immersed myself in an environment I’d never been in before and in a culture. Environment I’d never been in before. And I recognize at that moment it was kind of when I really just started embracing who I was. And I’d, I’d finished playing professional sport. I was still wrapped up in my ego as an athlete, a big six foot three white male that was just like had this ego with and wouldn’t do anything that didn’t look right.
And then but inside there was this person that was screaming like, this is not you let me out. Let me, let me be. And I still think that still is still going to get there. But it felt so much better to just be able to go, right? This is how I want to do things in the world, how I want to be.
And I’m I’m okay with it. Don’t don’t worry about what other people think.
It and and I feel like there was pretty divine timing there for your situation going through yoga training. I love yoga. I practice every morning at just 20 minutes. I go through a flow of like breath work and movement and I just set my system for the day. And I think that time for you of like immersing in that yoga training experience just probably couldn’t have been at a better moment as you were redefining and like, relearning how you saw yourself kind of like how I traveled to the Philippines after being injured.
Like you two had another experience where it was like super immersive, different, and you were kind of like relearning, like figuring out who am I? Like, I’ve only known myself in the context of this or does this am I like this another year of my life too? How does this carry over? How does my passion and dedication, this sport, translate to outside of it?
You know, we’re like, we kind of know ourselves to be this person only through one environment. And until we like experience ourselves and like a much diverse, you know, world and and you know, way of living that you see. Okay, I’m like, I’m still Ananda when I do these other things, too. And if I can, like, really tap into, like, what made me a great athlete, such as, like, my ability to care, my indomitable spirit, like, those are ingredients that I can take to everything.
And that’s like so much of my book. What my book is about is like tapping into, like, what our unique ingredients are. Even how I write my book, I write it with Neurodivergent Sea in mind. Like, I don’t I’ve never read a book front to back. I want people to be bounced around and like, it’s a stimulate them and them to go through exercises and just, like, immerse in it because there’s not one right way to read or one way to think or one way to be.
And that’s part of like the non recipe way is like going through the kitchen in a way that works for you to make so much is about that. I think in life we’re told you need to follow this, these instructions and these ingredients, and this is the way you need to do something. And like underpinning my whole book, like I’m using the kitchen as a metaphor.
It’s like, yeah, there’s not just one way to do that. And like there wasn’t just one way for me to be in exist either. I’m, like you said, peeling back the onions. I love a good food metaphor. I’m still doing that too. Like, I’m still understanding, like the impact that had on how I think about myself, the way people treated me the people that believed in me and like, showed me what I was capable of and saw things in me that I didn’t see in myself yet.
Those were really key to, like, helping me recognize my strengths. And I don’t think if I hadn’t had those teachers and mentors that saw gifts in me that I wasn’t yet seeing, I don’t think I would be the same person as I am. Today. And when you don’t have that belief in yourself, like you really need those people to help show that to you, that’s like the power of mentorship and teachers.
There’s a Yeah, having people bring that out of you I think is powerful. There’s something that I kind of have that and but mostly at the moment, I kind of delving into some things myself. And one of the questions I’ve been asking myself recently is how is how I am impacting people in the way that I want? And that’s more from the fact that is how I am in certain elements.
There’s some things that I’m strong and confident that I’m doing really well in life, and I have that tucked away and I write that down and I, I recognize it. I mantra, I action it, but I’m also through trying to be better and develop and have this element of being able to deal with many different people in the world.
Like I spoke about multi diverse people that you can try and interact with in and in the sport. I’ve had many different characters I’ve had to deal with. So a question I’m asking myself is what part of me am I is impacting people negatively, but where is that impacting people negatively? And can I change that, not change it to make me a different person, but to make me a better person?
I think that sometimes we can get scared about not trying to change an element of us through fear of I don’t know, being someone different and not that’s not really me. But I have these elements of myself where in certain situations I’ve recognized I want to change them through because I don’t feel they’re serving people in the way that I want them to, to.
So I don’t feel I’m impacting people. I don’t feel I’m bringing across the best part of me in those moments.
I feel like the word change is really scary for people. They’re they’re resistant to that. But when I look at it is evolution, like you’re simply evolving yourself. Like you’re not shifting, you’re not changing, you’re just evolving into like the best version of yourself through self-awareness and like recognizing in the way that we exist in this world does impact people whether we like it or not.
We can’t help that, and we can use that for good or we cannot and we recognize those interactions and it takes noticing it and like it takes being held accountable and people being honest with you too, of like how you made them feel. Speaking of which, I haven’t shared this with anyone yet for my birthday this year. I wanted to do something differently.
And if you listen to Andrew Huberman, you might have heard his podcast on Gratitude. Did you listen to the one on gratitude?
I have, yeah.
Okay. So it’s really fascinating because since I was in high school, I had a gratitude practice every night before I’d go to bed, I’d write three things down that that I was just happy and grateful for that day. And very soon that turned into six and ten. And now it’s like it’s hard to keep my list like under 20.
Some days it goes on, but when you start noticing it and you start writing it down, you begin to see it more. But what was so fascinating and his podcast, he talks about how what is more potent and changes like the neural circuitry in our brain is not recognizing gratitude, but receiving it in through story and internalizing that gratitude.
And often I think we exist in this world and we see ourselves differently than how other people see us. And I did this one really powerful exercise when I was in grad school, and it’s called Our Best Self Story. And I had to ask people if part of a personal branding class or like business school. And I had to ask people, can you send me a story when like you saw me as my best self?
And I sent it to all teachers and coaches and my friends. And I went on to say I wasn’t like expecting anything out of it. I was just like, oh, like I hate to ask you this, like, I’m such a burden like, you know, we feel so bad asking people things, right? I ended up getting pages long of stories that I still look at like five years later, and I use it to reframe how I see myself sometimes.
And I’m being hard on myself and and I recognize there is such power and asking for people and so what I’m doing this year for my birthday, you know, I hate asking people for things, but if someone wants to give me something, I want a story of when I positively impacted them and how it made them feel. Because if we can internalize that and read that story, we actually receive gratitude and we have to do like a minute of this a day to notice the benefits in a study but we begin to change how we see ourselves.
And we can act more like that and like, it can be as simple as that. Like, we want to change the world. It start here. I want to hear those stories because I’m sure I don’t even realize the impact I’ve had on people. I feel like you’d like that.
I Oh, that’s just so good. And I really like it because funnily enough, I have in one that draws behind me is that I had a we didn’t exercise as a team once over here in the UK where we in the room, we had, you know, those big sort of sheets of paper, the flip chart piece of paper.
Yeah. So it was a team building day and it was in the room there were all around the room. They were literally like all on the walls. And each person, one of our names was written on. Everyone had their own chart and just everyone went round and the idea was like what that person brings to the team, what that person brings.
And there was so many things that were mine that just I’d never really thought of at the time. And and I’ve still got it now. And I go back to it and I’m like, these are pro-athletes. These are guys that I really admired who were saying these things about me. And that’s how they feel. They weren’t prompted because what happened was, as you were doing it, you covered the last one that was shown so you couldn’t take from someone else.
So it had to be organic. And it was wow. It was it was not copied on it. And I, I love that. I love that one that you have just said that. It’s just so, so good. That’s awesome.
I think it’s an exercise. We all need to do. And, and I’ll admit this too. I still keep all the sticky notes from practice when people give me shout outs and like the letters that we write ourselves at the end of our season, before it champs me. And it’s not because I’m, like, hung up on, like, that person or like that experience, but I do want to remember who I was and how I made people feel and like, that is the most human experience.
It I think that serves me to this day to, like, remember, like, I can be a leader like I am this person that shows up for other people. And I made people feel this way because, like, when we go about our day to day, it’s easy to forget about that. And it’s but like at the very core of it, like you were that person then and you still can have that impact on someone.
And like, I want to leave the world feeling that it there’s not like there’s nothing like more stripped down. And to the core, there’s someone telling you the way you made them feel. You know, they’re not telling you about your performance at work. It’s not about your time on the field or how you play is it is purely who you are as an individual.
And like when you take everything else away, that’s all that is left. And so I want to remember those like I want to be remembered for that too. And with everything that’s happening in the world, we spent 20 minutes talking about it like, I think like if we can kind of ground ourselves and that identity and that impact we can show up better and like step into who we are.
Yeah, I think we spend so much time berating ourselves, listening to the inner critic that we need to to give the inner fan a megaphone, but we need to have them the mike for sure and do that more often. But the amount of I’m coaches at a time and thank you so much for forgiving it. I’m going to, there’s so many things we could have covered it, but I do ask this question to people and I feel like you listening to things on our dream and podcast, you will have something, I’m sure.
And one of the questions I ask is, is there a book, a person, a quote a podcast, a documentary that you are recommending a lot at the moment to people, to athletes, maybe even the athletes you work with.
So I yeah, I love how you ask people that question on the podcast. And I was like, Oh, no, like I don’t really have the perfect answer to that. Right? So there’s so many times where I receive the podcast, the book, the quote I needed to hear that was necessary for that moment, you know, and whether that is like the creative struggle I might be facing as a writer or, you know, my athletic experience and like, you know, going into my pain cave and feeling comfort and not discomfort it just depends on what I need to hear in that moment.
But I, I love to hear it in podcasts I’m reading. I’m a woman who run with the wolves right now. It’s, it’s a very heavy book, but it’s really helping me, like, step into like, my own essence and understand how, like, my creative powers and, and what I bring to this world is important. But one quote that I do think is pretty universal that I actually had I received a book by Wayne Dwyer when I was recovering from my hip surgery from my best friend’s mom.
And there was a quote in that book, and the book is called How to Change Your Mind. And it was the quote said, When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at, change and very ironically, like now I do like mindset work and all this stuff. I wasn’t ever thinking I was going to do that at the time.
But I think like that we can all relate to that. We can all relate to a situation that maybe was undesirable or not what we wanted. And when we reframed what that section situation was it changed what we felt inside about that situation. It changed our perspective on it. And so throughout our entire life, we can do that if we’re in a situation that is ideal or as tough or we need to adapt.
If we simply reframe how we see it, it changes our relationship to it. And it is as simple as that. And I think that quote and anyone could use it. So I’ll leave it at that.
Wow, what an unbelievable way to to end it. Just before we finish, though, just unapologetically send people to find you in the right direction. Why did you want people to be sent if they come find you.
So the easiest thing is following me on Instagram. I do share a good bit of my writing and like I think it’s easy to connect with people, message with them on that. But I am trying to expand beyond social media platforms and doing more longform writing your newsletters and my blogging and obviously my book and I think it I love going through like long form email exchanges with people or writing letters or voice messages.
I do think that’s a much richer form of engagement. And so if they go to my website, I’m in a great dot com, they can subscribe to my newsletter or just message me on social media on Instagram, and we can connect there and get started and I’m blessed love to be able to share like the longer forms of my writing.
I feel very limited sometimes with Instagram, but I do think that’s a great starting point.
Yeah, well, links are in the show notes for people to find that thank you and we’ll send that all up. But Mandalit, this has been unreal. I’ve loved this conversation. It’s been so, so it’s been so. I have a I just again, thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate you coming on.
I didn’t know what to expect and I loved the direction this conversation has taken for me is the middle of the day. At the end of the day for you, I have so much energy to take into the rest of my day and just I love learning from you as well. So thank you for your time and for having me and doing this work.
Because it matters and it’s important.
I appreciate it. Thank you.