18 May Lessons We Wish We Learned On Training, Nutrition And Mindset As Young Girls
I’m unlearning a lot right now.
Now that I’m a woman in my 30s, I find myself pondering why it took me so long to blossom into my authenticity, not care what other people think, lean into my femininity, and follow my purpose wholeheartedly.
Looking back, it all makes sense.
When I was a young girl, I wasn’t taught jack in school. Okay, I did learn some things, but not the life skills to excel as an entrepreneur, coach and creative. Not to poo-poo on the education system, but to this day, there are many concepts I don’t apply in the real world. I don’t use Pythagorean Theorem. I don’t balance equations. I don’t use long division. I don’t remember the capitals of the countries in Europe. I don’t whip out the acceleration equation with magnitude and direction when training athletes.
All of the subject matter from childhood and my teenage years seems like a distant, trivial dream that didn’t help with my greatest life’s challenges.
Now, here I am wondering how the heck I survived abuse, found my way out of the Amazon, and haven’t gone bankrupt. To say life has been my best teacher is an understatement. Truthfully, I believe the “oh crap” moments and close calls are what make us resilient and much more malleable in any environment.
My friend and amazing track performance coach, Gena Bradshaw, have been marinating on this a lot, and we wanted to come together for a collaboration article to dive into lessons we wish we learned as young girls. Gena also works with youth female athletes, and we feel it is our duty to help them prepare for the real world because their schooling is not cutting it.
From relationships, to personal finance, to physical strength, to health and well-being, to mindset and so much more, I’ll kick this party off. Let’s do this.
1. How to listen to my body.
For a good chunk of my coaching career, I didn’t know what my body needed. I was over-stimulated by meetings, sessions, social media posts, emails, networking events, and everything that distracts a working woman from her own needs. While I was totally crushing it and growing my career, it was at the expense of ignoring my body and accumulating copious amounts of internal stress.
Little did I know, my body was telling me to slow down for a while, but I brushed it under the rug until it was too late.
An emergency room visit back in 2018 due to a panic attack was a jarring, yet enlightening experience.
This is why I preach young girls get off tech, escape from the grind every now and then, and melt into abyss of self care and relaxation.
When you take a step back from the noise, you become more connected to your body and what it needs to be nourished, rested and revived again.
Rest is productive, too.
2. How to grow food and survive the wild.
If civilization were to collapse tomorrow, would you be able to survive out in the wild on your own? It’s not being dooms day, it’s being realistic.
Humans have lost the skills to be self sufficient, or they weren’t ever taught them. It’s much more empowering when you are confident in not being totally dependent on someone else to save you.
Adding on, how to climb trees, sprint, build things, and basic survival skills are worth learning.
This reminds me of a summer off-season training when I asked my athletes what they would contribute to a survival camp in the wild if it ever came to that. I got answers like “coconut collector” “hunter” “builder” and “wood supplier.”
This is why we do offbeat movements that build the total, badass human and continue to build innate strengths we were born with, but lost along the way, such as grip strength:
3. How to have a growth mindset.
Full disclosure: it wasn’t until my 30s when I read some of the most life changing books.
From understanding the sliminess of the global banking system and debt economy, and taking control of my finances in Charles Eisenstein’s Sacred Economics, to being grateful for the present moment in Eckart Tolle’s The Power of Now, to realizing alcohol is poison and to quit cold turkey in Sober Curious, I am glad I finally read literature that helped me to truly level up.
This isn’t to discredit the richness of the history, fiction and philosophy books we read back in the classroom, but I yearned for more real world application to prepare for my future.
You know, practical skills I could utilize on the soccer pitch, or in the workplace, or as a business owner to have a more growth mindset, overcome adversity, have healthy communication, and how to invest.
4. How to manage finances.
This brings me to money.
I remember being in high school and all of the personal finance classes were cut. It was discouraging, to say the least.
Of course, I’m thankful my parents showed me the way with the basics, and I finally taught myself the rest in my 20s, but there’s so much more to ensuring you’re financially stable than putting money away in a savings account, which isn’t all that optimal either due to inflation and the weakening of the U.S. dollar.
What about IRA and 401K pros and cons? What about dividends and stocks? Should you buy gold and silver? And now that we’re moving into a more digital world, what is the deal with cryptos? This education should be a non-negotiable for all schools, otherwise you’re left rummaging on your own, or drowning in student debt.
Continue to learn about the state of the world and the evolution of the financial system. You can be distracted by world events and Twitter debates, or you can prepare yourself for what is to come.
5. How to heal my body from the inside out.
For the longest time I thought germs got me sick. Or a moron who sneezed on me in class was the one who gave me the flu. But it wasn’t these times that caused me to get sick. Not once.
The times when I was the most stressed, most malnourished, and most under-rested were the times when I suffered illness.
‘So we can’t blame other people for getting us sick?!’ you exclaim.
Nope. Don’t go there with me. That’s not how it works.
Enter: terrain theory.
Here’s what you need to ask: do the roaches bring the trash, or does the trash bring the roaches?
Your body is similar. If your body is trashed and not well fed, well rested, well recovered, you’ll suffer the consequences in the form of sickness or injury. Your terrain matters. It’s not an outside-in job. Healing is an inside-out job. Period.Healing is an inside-out job. Click To Tweet
I’ve preached this for the past decade as a performance coach that young female athletes truly are the power. Don’t let the news, authority figures, and the school system tell you otherwise.
You heal you.
Check out this amazing interview with Dr. Raymond Nichols on sickness healing and how powerful your body is:
You control everything you consume as well as your internal state. It is a cop out to blame someone else when you get sick or get injured. It’s on you to heal yourself.It's on you to heal yourself. Click To Tweet
6. How to not be responsible for other’s emotions and traumas.
Anyone reading this a people pleaser?
Ahhhhh, yes. It’s downright exhausting, isn’t it?
Check this: you are not responsible for someone else’s emotions. If a friend is having a bad day, or someone is holding onto a past trauma and taking it out on you, it’s not your burden to take on and attempt to fix them.
This is where boundary setting comes in – a skill none of us were taught in school that is critical for relationships and the work place later in life.
So how do you set boundaries? Ask yourself these questions first:
– How do I want to feel?
– How do I want to be treated?
– What are my needs?
They sound simple, but once you sit down and answer them in detail, you realize you never knew what you needed in the first place.
If you’re in a relationship and you want to feel respected, cherished and appreciated, you need to set boundaries around those.
If a friend is blaming you for their bad behavior, they crossed your boundary and you will need to draw a line in the sand that their projecting is unacceptable and you cannot save them.
7. How to balance my masculine and feminine energy.
This takes me back to my Buddhism class I took at Johns Hopkins University, the best class I took at a top 10 institution. LOLOLOL.
Every human on Earth has within them a Yin and Yang energy – an integrative dance between presence and creativity (feminine), and planning and organization (masculine).
Society has gone through a serious pendulum swing in the past decade of feminism and building highly masculine women. Sure, it’s good to turn on your masculine energy at the right times – for a work deadline, for soccer training, for future planning and goal setting, for taking initiative – but you can’t thrive if you’re always residing in this state as a young woman.
You also need to relax, receive, be at peace, and enjoy the present moment. Your feminine power is something you need to own, so you’re not constantly caught up in the doing and planning mindset. It’s exhausting and it will burn you out.
Femininity also isn’t weakness. It doesn’t make you a doormat.
Rather, it makes you powerful because you’re much more open to receiving compliments, getting help and demanding respect. True female empowerment isn’t fighting the system, it’s flowing with your natural state and accepting yourself as enough. You have nothing to prove, and nothing to do or to be but yourself.True female empowerment isn't fighting the system, it's flowing with your natural state and accepting yourself as enough. You have nothing to prove, and nothing to do or to be but yourself. Click To Tweet
You are not a victim.
Yes, I can do a lot of things men can do, but now that I’ve taken a step back to let them help me, I’m much more at peace, and better yet, they truly love giving to me. Taking on all of their duties birthed resentment within them, when all they wanted to do was step up and help me.
As Dave Chapelle said in a comedy skit, chivalry isn’t dead because of men…it’s dead because of women. I know it’s a stale pill to swallow, but it’s true. Sit on this and ponder deeply.
Allow men to open doors. Thank them when they give you compliments, instead of rolling your eyes. Ask them for help because they’re willing to do it. Men aren’t the enemy. Undo this mindset you’ve been taught now, otherwise the men in your life will never take the lead for you.
Men are wired to give and provide, so let them.
I truly believe the energy you put out as a young woman is exactly what you’ll get back and how you’ll be treated.
8. How I’m not a victim and I control my outcomes.
I am exposed to just as much drugs, toxicity and bad influences as anyone else. But I choose not to participate.
Even though I consider myself more well off and privileged, it is more of a challenge for me to not consume the vices of life, and focus my resources on things that serve my mental, physical and spiritual health.
We all are exposed to the good, bad and ugly, but life is about your choices, not your situation.
9. How to be an empowered female coach.
Speaking of feminine power, I used to fall in the woman victim mindset a lot, so much in fact, it’s embarrassing to admit I blamed all of my shortcomings and failures on men.
Being a woman in a male dominated industry, I was conditioned that the man was bad and ruining all of my opportunities. So what happened? I went in full defense mode, was always resentful, and brought bad vibes into the work place.
It wasn’t until I shifted from the victim to victor mindset when men began to treat me with respect. Men are wonderful when you bring joy to their world. They are treasures who love to help us when you’re kind and grateful toward them.
With that said, if any young girls want to enter a male dominated industry, own who you are, pour love into your work, don’t play the victim, and the rest works out.If any young girls want to enter a male dominated industry, own who you are, pour love into your work, don't play the victim, and the rest works out. Click To Tweet
It’s truly magical when you give off vibrant and positive energy. Check out this video where Gena and I go into more detail and share stories from our careers as female coaches:
10. How social media is fake.
Everyone on social media is highlighting their best life, their most toned body, their picturesque curves, and their opulent travel experiences.
The influencer who has hundreds of thousands of followers may actually be broke because she bought those followers. The influencer who travels from exotic destination to exotic destination may be suffering depression from loneliness. The influencer who shows off her perfect body may be using perfectly staged lighting and camera angles, only to look like this:
Realizing social media is fake, allows you to do these things:
– Avoid comparison and jealousy
– Be empathetic of the human condition
– Focus on you and stay in your own lane
11. How having less is more.
Now that I’m in my 30s, I appreciate the simple things in life. When I was younger, I was told by adults to yearn for more and never be satisfied. While the intent behind this messaging was out of care, I realized the more I had, the more I had to think about, plan and stress over.
My shift from complexity to simplicity was a slow process, starting after my trip to Brazil, and continuing into my late 20s, and discovering what I held as my life values:
– To create and impact young kids through my creativity (coaching and writing)
– To experience the richness of life through meaningful connections and experiences
– To live out the healthiest, most energized, most rested, most nourished, most strong version of myself
You see, money and having all the things don’t matter if you’re always stressed, can’t see your friends and family, can’t travel, and can’t be a healthy human to enjoy life.Money and having all the things don't matter if you're always stressed, can't see your friends and family, can't travel, and can't be a healthy human to enjoy life. Click To Tweet
Now that I’ve cut out alcohol, excessive social media use, over-working, over-stimulating, and over-doing (again, leaning into my feminine energy), I’m in awe of the how simple and blissful life truly is.
Every day, I’m grateful to wake up to the sunrise. Every day, I’m blown away I can breathe. Every day, I’m thankful I survived abuse. Every day, I’m excited to move my body.
The rest? It’s just noise.
12. You can blame others for your problems, or set yourself free.
If any of you know my story Soccer Saved My Life, I’m a past victim of mental and physical abuse. Truthfully, it’s taken me all through my 20s to heal fully and not live my life in the rear view mirror.
I wish someone had told me that even after this rock bottom time in my life ended, I didn’t have to be a victim of my past.
Instead of taking ownership of my life and writing a new story, I kept a bad taste in my mouth regarding relationships and men. But just because of my one experience, didn’t mean all men were bad.
As I closed out my 20s, I realized I had the power to renew my life, build meaningful and loving relationships, choose to attract amazing humans, pour love back into myself, and be a victor, not a victim.
I’ll be honest: I get frustrated when people are victims of their past from many years ago because I look back and see how much that mindset crippled me, and it did so in all areas of my life – work, friendships and emotional health.
Eventually, you have to put your big girl pants on, come face to face with past trauma, and do the freaking work to heal.Eventually, you have to put your big girl pants on, come face to face with past trauma, and do the freaking work to heal. Click To Tweet
It’s hard, but it sets you free from mental enslavement.
Now that I’m 1400 words in and you’re warmed up, let’s transition to Gena’s grand finale:
My story is a bit different and unique from most; I am 27 years old and a 2x cancer survivor. My life has completely come full circle multiple times. I was diagnosed with Leukemia at age three and a half, fought a long and hard battle for 5-6 years thereafter. Happy to say that I am a healthy young woman, and such adversity has made me the person I am today. It has helped me find my career and passion in life: optimize health, fitness, and wellness for others. I was involved in sports my entire life, my parents also are very healthy and active people, we grew up with farm to table lifestyle. We also have our own family fitness business, Bradshaw Personal Fitness, and have been in the business for over 30 years. Which brought me to Ithaca College where I studied Exercise Science and was a member of the women’s track and field team. During my time at Ithaca, at 20 years old I was struck with more adversity… I was diagnosed with Thyroid cancer. This didn’t stop me, I still competed as a student athlete and graduated in four years with my B.S. in Exercise Science. Today I am cancer free!
Throughout the years, I have had to learn how to adapt, be resilient and patience; I had to develop a certain mindset. Which is my goal to teach all of you reading and why Erica and I wanted to create this article for you all. We had to figure out and go through the trenches to teach what we are about to discuss.
- Listen to your Body
Be mindful and in tune with your internal self, knowing what you need and what is best for thy self. Don’t force anything, things manifest due to your hard work, dedication, and consistency. Being an athlete my whole life and competing at a collegiate level has taken a toll on my body. I learned that now I am training for life, keeping myself healthy and able. Rest and recovery are so important, and it is a BIG part of training.
- The Intimidation Factor
In a male dominant field, don’t think gender roles, instead focus on your why, what you excel at and how you can help others. The biggest take away is to care for others and be a nice person always. We need strong leaders in general, it does not matter about the gender.
- Stress Management Practices
This is probably the most important aspect of life. If you can’t manage your emotions and reactions, you will live a very stressful and energy draining life. If your cup isn’t full and you don’t feel good, how can you possibly give to others or run a successful business? That is where we see burnout and overtraining especially in young athletes.
What can we do?
- Breathing exercises
- Sport psychology
- Rest and recovery
- Sound frequency healing
- Hydration > Caffeine binges
- Don’t sweat the small sh*t
- Take Vitamins and Supplements
Reality is the American standard diet isn’t beneficial for us and over half of the population is now considered obese and by 2025 according to the CDC every American will have 1 chronic illness or disease…if that isn’t frightening, I am not sure what is.
Nourishing your bodies with supplements and vitamins (ask your physician, nutritionist and or naturopathic doctor) is a big factor. My best advice, is to consult with your doctor, get a blood marker test to see where your levels are. Then proceed from there, maybe meet with a nutritionist or someone who can help you optimize your health if something is off. Do your research, personally I am a big fan and advocate for naturopathic doctors. As a nutrition coach myself, a blood marker test is always something I suggest before moving forward with a client.
Another point I would like to touch on is birth control. Personally, I have never been on it neither has my mom or my sister. To each her own, however, I do believe that big pharma plays a huge role in why so many girls and women are prescribed it. First thing is first, make sure you have a great OBGYN, do your own research, ask the right questions. For example, let’s say every month you get bad menstrual cramps, you tell your doctor, and they immediately tell and push you to take birth control. Personally, I view that as a disservice to the patient, instead of giving her options of different foods to eat, trying different natural remedies, change in activity level, or speaking/working perhaps with a naturopathic doctor. Now, you need to ask, “are there any other options for me in terms of natural remedies?” If your doctor continues to push birth control, get a new doctor ASAP.
- Always do what is best for you.
Look at the bigger picture, what is your vision? It will always be a windy road, never linear. Somethings you do in life and in work maybe something you dislike but will help you achieve your greater goal and learn a new skillset
If you find it fearful, it will help you grow and flourish (ex: public speaking).
- Nourish the body, food is medicine
Now this I learned at a very young age. I grew up in an Italian family, where food is viewed as medicine and a big part of culture.
Being a nutrition coach myself, I have been able to combine my best practices and seen so much success with clients by combining the two. My knowledge of nutrition and cooking abilities, I view food as fuel, just like movement is medicine. You wouldn’t drive your car on empty and get very far without something breaking down, would you?
- Holistic practices to heal the body and mind
- Acupuncture, herbal and eastern medicine.
- Do your research and find a naturopathic doctor that can help you. Your body will let you know when something is off.
- Listen to your body, does it need fine tuning?
- Don’t worry what other people think
Your journey is YOUR journey, don’t let anybody change that. This is part of growth and development. Focus on your path, not anyone else’s. A good learning experience would be to understand the different types of personalities that are amongst us. How can you approach a situation or person differently? Understanding your own personality, wants and needs is so important, especially in business.
- Application and Immersion
I learned a ton in school being an exercise science major however I learned way more outside of school through experience and immersion. Taking certifications, seminars, internships, shadowing other coaches/trainers, learning a new skillset. All of this adds to the toolbox to get you to mastery, this takes time but again it’s all about the journey.
- Feminine power
Own being a woman on this earth, as it is a privilege, and don’t let social media or society tell you otherwise.
Yes, being a woman in the fitness industry is challenging but I view it as a great challenge, I have learned so much from both male and female coaches and mentors. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel of health, fitness, and wellness, keep it simple stupid the basics work! Most importantly… HAVE FUN!
- Own your sh*t
Take 100% responsibility for your actions, always. Being able to self-reflect, think, and then react is the best approach. Remember, everyone is different, and you never know what is going on behind the scenes.
I would like to mention this past year I was nominated for Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Woman of the Year Campaign 2021. Where donations go into research to find better treatment for pediatric cancer patients. Statistics show that 80% of those pediatric survivors end up with a chronic illness, disease, or cancer again from treatment received to their little bodies. I am included in that 80%.
This hands down is a full circle moment for me and I would love all of you to be a part of it, I need all the help I can get. I am so grateful Erica can be a part of this with me and an asset to the team. Please help us and donate to Team Bradshaw: LLS Team Bradshaw.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
My name is Gena Bradshaw, I am a high school track and field coach in New York and Coach/ Director of Marketing at Bradshaw Personal Fitness. I attended Ithaca College and was a part of the Women’s Track and Field Team (short sprints and throws), graduated with a B.S. Exercise Science, Minor in Coaching. I am an Olympic Weight- Lifting coach, USATF Level 1 coach, strength and conditioning coach, trainer and nutrition coach. Fun fact I am a 2x cancer survivor and I teach others the importance of health, fitness and wellness. My passion is coaching track and field and to teach other coaches the importance of education and the role they play in an individual’s life. I believe it is very important for coaches to have some knowledge of the sport itself, how to train athletes PROPERLY and be efficient and prepared for anything. Continuing education is a key factor, mentors to shadow and learning from successful coaches in the field.
Instagram: Business @bpfitcoaching and personal @genabshaw
Title: Coach and Director of Marketing at Bradshaw Personal Fitness
Erica Suter is a certified strength and conditioning coach in Tampa, Florida, as well as online for thousands of youth soccer players. She has worked with kids, starting at the elementary level and going all the way up to the college level, for the past nine years. She believes in long-term athletic development and the gradual progression of physical training for safe and effective results. She helps youth master the basic skills of balance, coordination, and stability, and ensures they blossom into powerful, fast and strong athletes when they’re older. Beyond working with kids, she mentors coaches of youth athletes in her Total Youth Female Athlete Fitness Video Course and Community. Erica is driven and excited to provide youth coaches with simple, actionable drills to build their athletes into strong, fast and healthy humans.