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GlitterGleeandGrit

The musings and life of a girly and uncoordinated want-to-be kickboxer.

My Storyteller Post for Society Nine: Why We Need a Brand for Badass Women

Hitting some pads
Hitting some pads

A few weeks ago now I was inviteded by Society Nine to join their ranks of Storytellers. Below is my post abut my journey to self empowerment and healing and why I believe it is important for a brand such as Society Nine to exist. Standing for the female fighter in us all, Society Nine hopes to take back the narrative of the female athlete and inject it with the tenacity, grit and the properly executed gear that female athletes deserve.

If you have not heard of this company yet, they are truly one to watch. 

Want to check out the original post? Click here 

Want to check out Society Nine? Click here

Meghan Sekone-Fraser: Unleashing My Resilience

Some light pad work with Dion during a photo shoot with Ashley Kress.

My fight started in a boat. Before I ever imagined myself participating in any form of combat sports I had spent 10 years chasing my dream of representing the United States as a member of the Women’s National Team. As a rower I never quite fit in. Unlike my Amazonian teammates, I was 5’8” on a good day and not nearly as genetically gifted on the metabolic side of things. In the eyes of many coaches my inability to ‘look like a rower’ overshadowed my speed. I was under pressure to not only produce results but also fight my body every step of the way. I struggled with over-training, injury, body image issues and eating disorders but I was so focused on my goal that I didn’t see the damage being done.

That journey came to an end in 2011 when a back injury I had sustained in a car accident two years prior continued to interrupt my athletic progress and impact my quality of life. I was in constant pain, felt dejected and very lost without a goal to guide every aspect of my life. Around that time I became a trainer at Crossfit Balance in Washington DC and a funny thing happened… No one asked me what I weighed or what my body fat percentage was, instead, they asked me about what I could do, or even better, what I wanted to do.

Being immersed into a community of badass women that pushed themselves each day and refused to be limited by any image standard began to heal my relationship with my body. As a rower my abilities were defined by what I saw in the mirror. In this new chapter of my life what I saw in the mirror was defined by my abilities. That shift in my thought patterns was one of the most empowering things that ever happened in my life. There are still days when I poke and prod my body or struggle in my relationship with food but my drive to push my limits and uncover new abilities is much stronger.

Right Kick
Some light pad work during a photo shoot with Ashley Kress.

As a Crossfit Coach I always told my athletes that they should use their new found strength and awesomeness to try out and play new sports. So when I became the strength and conditioning coach for a Muay Thai fighter (who is now my husband) in a small town in New Zealand it only seemed right that I give it a solid go. I was terrible, so very terrible, but I was hooked. While Crossfit had begun to heal my relationship with my body, Muay Thai made me the student and took me so far out of my comfort zone that I had no choice but to claw my way out of the abyss that is being as terrible as I was.

When my back is playing up, my switch kicks can be a bit wonky or combinations might take a bit longer to engrain but I haven’t stopped fighting for every new skill. Sometimes I am determined and sometimes I cry but I now know that I am a badass. It has taken me 30 years to figure that out about myself and that is why Society Nine and its products need to exist. Every well-meaning comment from a peer/coach over the years; every piece of poorly made, pink gear; and every image of a female athlete depicted as a sex symbol chips away at a woman’s sense of self-empowerment and increases the time it takes for a woman to connect with her badass self.

When I found Society Nine’s Kickstarter campaign through a Female Fighters Facebook page, I cried. I have loved sport my whole life but had never seen a brand embrace and celebrate the strength and diversity of female athletes in the way that Society Nine has.

Fitness brands have continually missed the mark, objectifying and sexualizing female athletes with every fitspo post.

Brands within the combat sports arena have been the worst of all with gear and apparel that degrades and endangers the journey of the female fighter with infantile, ill-fitting pink gloves and frivolously glittered, equally pink tees and tights.

It seems like common sense that every woman deserves gear that fits their unique needs for protection and performance. It should also be common sense that every woman deserves to grow up conscious of her power and ability without being objectified. But unfortunately that has not been the message transmitted by brands in the pre-Society Nine world.

Wrapping up for some pad work during our photo shoot with Ashley Kress.
Wrapping up for some pad work during our photo shoot with Ashley Kress.

I am a Society Nine badass woman because I don’t want my daughters to take 30 years to uncover their potential.

I believe that the female fighter exists in every athletic discipline and that every fight deserves to be celebrated and supported through proper gear, but biggest and most important of all, through community.

This is that community.

Photo credits: AK Creative + Photography

The Campaign for Women to Gain Respect in Combat Sports Heats Up

This article gives a few great points about women in combat sports, where it is coming from, where it is going and the strength of this movement. Although I will never be on the level of the pros, it is an honor to be a part of a movement of women that are staking a claim in sports that were denied to us for so long. Keep an eye out for my coming post about considering taking my first Muay Thai fight and some of my thoughts and musings about my journey as a woman in combat sports.

As much as they are a part of a staged play, pro wrestlers are still athletes. They work just as hard as any female athlete, and like others, they are not getting the respect they deserve.

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Paleo Cookie Butter

That’s right people I cracked the code on day one of the 21 Day Sugar Detox.

Let me preface this by saying, because I am gluten intolerant, I have actually never had Trader Joe’s infamous Cookie Butter. I have only witnessed my husband consume an entire jar within 24 hours. Since he also does that with Nutella, I assume it is equally as awesome. After I made this, I said to the hubby that I thought this was what cookie butter tasted like. He laughed at me until I finally got him to try it. I believe that this will be our savior during the 21 Day Sugar Detox.

Cookie Butter

I hope you are ready because this recipe is crazy easy.

Paleo Cookie Butter

  • 12 oz Coconut Flakes (Organic is ideal but, since I am broke, I used Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 2/3 cup Sliced Almonds (Again, organic is ideal but I had some left overs)
  • 1 Vanilla Pod
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon

1) Preheat your oven to 450.

2) Mix your coconut and almonds and arrange them on a baking tray. Any cookie type tray will do. The bigger the more you will cut down on time spent toasting the coconut and almonds but don’t worry if you have a small one.

3) Toast your coconuts and almonds in the oven. Be sure to check on them and stir as needed until they reach a nice even brown color. I did two batches because my pan was small and from start to finish it took about 15-20 mins. I stirred my coconuts and almonds every 1-2 mins as well to ensure even color.

4) Be sure to stir in pieces on the corners and sides during toasting. Any burnt bits should be tossed out as they will make your cookie butter bitter and ain’t nobody got time for bitter cookie butter.

5) Let the coconuts and almonds cool for a couple minutes before putting them into your food processor.

6) Slice your vanilla pod lengthwise and scrap the seeds out into the food processor (if you have no idea how to do this, watch this video, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bICPn7Ifrh8). Add the cinnamon and blend ingredients until smooth. It took me about 1-2 mins.

7) Your Cookie Butter will be runny at first but as it cools down it will firm up. If you would like to speed up that process stick it in the fridge for a bit.

I really like it on a chia seed pudding or with my green apple slices… or you know, by the spoonful…

Starting the 21 Day Sugar Detox

As usual in my life, it has been far too long since my last post. Turns out the holidays are not only busy in my personal life but also very very busy at work. So although I desperately wanted to recommit to writing more, I pretty much failed upon saying that. Oh well, all I can do is admit failure, dust myself off and try to be better this time.

So on with it I go.

I have never been a huge fan of making resolutions. Unfortunately, it’s human nature to take the easy road and become complacent in the pursuit of awesomeness. I for one am guilty as charged. That being said, the start of a new year is a great time to set your intentions and/or recommit yourself to something you have turned your back on a bit.

I am the queen of losing perspective and life balance at times. I consider myself a bit of a pinball. I have the tendency to go in one direction full force until I bump into something and it redirects me. My current position is the first position that I really enjoy and have the chance to have an impact. I find myself not avoiding the long days at my desk and grabbing a quick lunch or turning down a run so that I can finish up the details of something I am working on.  In those moments I forget all of my athletic and health goals and, being my pinball self, I go full force into my career. Needless to say that is totally not sustainable or healthy.

So as I came into the Holiday season I realized that I had been maintaining a bare minimum of training and a crappy diet at best (my husband’s love of McDonald’s didn’t help). I also realized that I had few extra jiggly bits these days. Besides wanting to be healthy because I love my body, I also have athletic goals for 2015. My crappy diet and lack of commitment to training were not going to help me achieve them. So Dion and I had a ‘come to Jesus talk’ about 2014’s slippery slope into complacency and decided we needed to do something BIG.

Enter the 21 Day Sugar Detox. Our house is already gluten free thanks to my allergy and besides some cheese and the hubby’s protein shakes we are pretty low dairy. So this program is a good way to level up our nutritional Jedi powers. A year ago we had flirted with this book, but a week in we were bored with our cooking because we were not prepared and bailed. 2015 is a different beast and I am determined to make it my biatch.

So two weeks out I began my research, collected recipes and started making my shopping list and plan of attack. Yesterday I spent about 5 hours doing some meal prep and I am hoping to cook throughout the week to keep our food supplies up and fresh. So get excited because after even day one of cooking I have some awesome recipes to share.

Cheers to treating your body right and chasing dreams!

 

Failing to Reach a Goal: Part Three: My Authentic Self

In my last post I mentioned what a little bad ass I was when I was a kid. When I went back to that post to start this one I remembered something I said to myself a lot when I was setting my new goals and moving forward after the end of my rowing career. ‘Make the six year old you proud.’ Now I am not saying a 6 year old will give you great life advice but I am saying that when you are 6 years old you only know how to be your authentic self. So that could at least point you in the right direction.

When I up and moved to New Zealand a lot of people said that I was running away from my problems. While I can’t totally disagree, it was only a half truth. I was not running away from my problems, I was separating myself to sort out an identity that longer felt authentic. My goals to find an adventure and further my education would have made my 6 year old self proud and earned me a high five because she was a sassy, confident and independent wee lady that felt the world was hers to take. That was exactly who I wanted to be so I followed her advice.

So off to Aotearoa I went and as soon as I stepped onto the plane, I stepped out of myself and began experiencing new things. From living and working on a dairy farm to meeting, training, learning from and falling in love with a kick boxer from a small town. I was growing as a person each day. I started picking up new sports, training for a trail marathon, dabbling in a bit of Muay Thai and BJJ. My new athletic adventures challenged my lack of athleticism and helped heal my body and soul. I started, rocked and completed my Masters of International Business. Which besides giving me a constant stream of knowledge bombs for two years, also helped me identify my own potential.  My successes in those three years laid a solid foundation for my future and set the tone for what I hope to be a fearless life of possibility and adventure.

My International Business Family celebrating a job well done. This was our last meal together before everyone headed home :(
My International Business Family celebrating a job well done. This was our last meal together before everyone headed home😦

A big piece of the NZ puzzle was that my three years in NZ were also filled with struggles. From the subtle things like sorting out how to be a loud mouthed American in small country that hates a tall poppy and loves a quiet cup of tea to the constant financial struggle of trying to find ways to pay $9 for a loaf of gluten free bread as a graduate student.  Clearly unplanned, these were struggles I never would have faced had I stayed protected by my family and friends back home. However, it was these struggles that gave me no choice but to get over myself, creating space for possibility.

Finally, I could not write this entry without stressing that meeting my now husband, my then boyfriend and athlete, was a major turning point in finding my authentic self. And while I don’t think you need a man to save you, I do think sometimes  you need someone to see you in a different light and challenge your perception of self. Dion has been my own personal Kiwi Yoda or Jiminy Cricket. From day one, he challenged me to be a bit less selfish, be a bit more humble,  give a few less f*cks (as he would put it), have faith and to put positive mental attitude out into the world so that I could receive it in return. He pushed me to grow from a place of humor and love always offering honesty and support.

Dion and I met when I began training him for a fight. I was so proud of him!
Dion and I met when I began training him for a fight. I was so proud of him!

So my advice for anyone that is trying to find their way past an epic fail:

  1. Take a moment to find your direction.
  2. Once you’ve got that, set some goals to drive you away from the past and toward your future.
  3. Find a friend, a mentor or a mythical being, that will keep you honest, not let you feel sorry for yourself and push you to be the best you.
  4. And finally with all this in mind, look for the opportunities presented in the everyday and don’t be afraid of setbacks because they will remind you of skills or strengths you may have forgotten.

Opening You Mind to Possibility and Thought Rabbit Holes

This morning I booted up the comp and promptly got a GChat from a lovely friend announcing to me, “I bought Pumpkin Spice coffee creamer. And then it hit me, what if I could buy ALLLL the pumpkin spice coffee creamer and use it throughout the year. But then reality hit and I realized I’d have a heck of a load of curdled creamer on my hands.” I know exactly how this entire internal conversation went down. She is shopping for some groceries, gets super stoked that there is enough pumpkin spice creamer there for all the pumpkin spice lovers and then it hits. She wishes she could have pumpkin spice creamer all year… and for a brief few seconds her mind is lost in possibility. It may only last a couple of second but in that couple of seconds her thoughts fast forwarded through an epic pumpkin spiced year.

As adults we don’t get to day dream often. Every once in a while you might take a look at the GroupOn Getaways just to piss yourself off a little bit, but, for the most part our brains don’t get to wander. We do our very best to keep them tethered to our daily tasks. From work to our workouts we are rarely without purpose or boundaries. This is exactly why I think these thought rabbit holes are absolutely delicious.

When we are children we spend a decent chunk of our days letting our imaginations roam and dreaming of the possibilities the future holds. What if I became a fireman? What kind of superhero would I be? When I was little I remember being worried that my imagination would leave when I grew up; I think the movie Hook is to blame for that one. We are so busy being grown ups that we forget that our minds are hilarious playgrounds of possibility. These brief lapses in our ability to control our own minds are our imagination poking holes into everyday life to remind you that it’s still there.

It is also a reminder that the world is vast and filled with possibility. Our day dreams shouldn’t inspire us to buy pumpkin spiced dairy products but maybe prompt us to enjoy our mind’s abilities to roam and seek the potential possibilities that go missed in our everyday lives.

Update on Things

Hi All,

Firstly, I have been so bad at updating this blog, my apologies. Its funny how just when you think you have found a solid routine, you are thrown a curve ball or two. When I started this blog, my goal was to post at least once a week. It has been over a month since my last meaningful post, which is a total bummer. Since this blog is not about me bitching about how crazy life can get I am simply going to say that for the past month or so my husband and I have been running around like crazy people trying to balance life, career and love.

So from now on, I will do my very best to post at least once a week. I hope to continue writing about things that are running through my head and happening around me. So cheers to being recommitted to a goal!

Failing to Reach a Goal: Part Three: Sorting My Sh*t Out

When I was younger I always managed to bounce back quickly. When I would fail I would shrug my shoulders and either try again or move on to the next challenge. I had faith that I had a purpose and that everything was going to fall into place, I just had to keep trying. But when my Olympic dreams came crashing down, so did I. This time, I could shrug my shoulders but I couldn’t try again and I had no idea what direction to go from there.

Me being a tough purple unicorn
Me being a tough purple unicorn

The good news is that the resilience and self-confidence that I had when I was younger was still there and still a part of my personality. I had just lost track of it for a bit. After about six months of wallowing in self-pity the fog retreated and I regained my self-awareness and my belief that ‘everything happens for a reason.’ It was time bounce back up and head in a new direction.

At the time I had two jobs. One I loved but was not making enough money to support myself with and another I loathed but was consistent. I was at the end of an athletic career with a degree and Anthropology, certificates for personal training, nutrition, Crossfit and enough wit to be a solid problem solver. My career seemed like a good place to redirect my focus and energy but, for me, the sum of all of those parts did not equal a career. I wanted to do something that was exciting, dynamic and challenging. So I looked to myself and my past to see what patterns I could find to help me set a new compass. These were my two take-aways:

  • Although my past positions had been general they all pointed the same direction. No matter the title, I love to communicate and would always find a way to get involved in some form of marketing and communications.
  • I have always been a drawn to travel and new cultures. More specifically I have always enjoyed breaking down cultures, figuring out the purpose behind what makes it unique and finding ways to communicate with and about new people.

With my career not really going any place fast, an expensive apartment, trouble figuring out who my true self was these days and a love life that was leading me to more frogs than princes, I knew two things were pretty defined on my list: a change of scenery and that it was time to go back to school. I liked the dynamic nature of marketing and wanted to find a career in an organization that operated across borders. It may not have been much to go off of but, for me it was, and sprint may be a better definition of what I did.

Within a month, I had researched different programs and applied to Masters of International Business programs in Australia, New Zealand, Spain and Italy.  I figured, I spoke a little Spanish and Italian, if needed, and had friends from Australian and New Zealand. Which to me meant I could survive. So why not get a different perspective of the world and challenge myself in a new culture. In the end I picked the University of Auckland’s program. When I found out I would have to wait a year to begin school I decided staying in an expensive city, working two jobs and not being my ideal self was no longer an option. I pretty much gave everything away, had a farewell party and jumped on a plane to New Zealand before anyone could successfully talk me out of my master plan (Boy, did they try).

My first picture in New Zealand after a run on the beach.

While all of those New Zealand stories are for later blogs, and my future grand children, I will simply end this post saying that although I am a big fan of S.M.A.R.T. goals, sometimes you have to go with your gut and trust that everything will work out the way it is meant to. You just have to keep bouncing back.

Positivity Challenge: A Few Weeks Out

My apologies for not writing much the past month. We have been doing a lot of running around the U.S. from a concert in Northern VA to a row in Dallas, Texas. Between travel and keeping up at work it has been a wild ride to say the least…

Maybe it’s because in October Dion and I will hit our one year here in the US or maybe it because Dion and I have been on some great adventures over the past month, but lately my heart has been very full and I am more grateful than ever.

When you are a bit of a gypsy like myself you always leave a bit of your heart in each place you live; you unfortunately always leave friends as well. In my case, I have friends in every corner of the globe.  A lot of people say that must mean that I have a place to stay no matter where I go but what it means to me is that I don’t see a majority of my friends as much as I would like to. But, when I do get the chance to catch up with friends, even if it is brief, I can’t help but be nostalgic and extremely grateful for my friends. It never ceases to amaze me how it feels like no time has passed, which I think speaks to just how bad ass the people I have in my life are🙂

So without further ado, here are five things that the past few weeks have left me flattened with gratitude for.

1) My Friends: Pittsburgh, Dallas, Washington D.C., New Zealand and beyond, you are all amazing. As I said, it never ceases to amazing me how quickly we pick up right where we left off. Over the past month Dion and I have run into Friends at concerts, grabbed margaritas in Dallas, gone for a row and swapped hugs and embarrassing stories and for that I am so very grateful.

2) My Husband: Ok, Ok I know I have put him before but this is for something different. As many of you know, Dion is a Kiwi, and sometimes I forget how new and different things are to him and that really he is still a tourist in it all. Every once in a while it hits me and I am filled with awe for the little things that I usually miss. Be it the beautiful bridges of Pittsburgh or trying fajitas for the first time, my husband has really pushed me to take a step back and recognize how fortunate we are and how special everything is.

3) Rowing: I know my series on failing to reach a goal really speaks to the struggles I have gone through with injuries and ending a rowing career but the recent weekend in Dallas with a huge group of former teammates was AMAZING! I always said that rowers are the weirdest people on the face of the earth and therefore the best people to have as friends. Being surrounded by those ladies reminded me how precious and positive my ten years as a competitive rower was. Our group truly spoke to how a common goal can bring people together no matter how diverse they may seem. I am so grateful for a sport like rowing that allowed us all to lower our barriers, strive for greatness and become friends.

Keep an eye out for my paleo cherry chocolate layer cake recipe that I will be uploading this weekend. It may have taken me a month but I think I finally sorted out the icing!

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