Hey y’all! I hope you’re having a great week! As I’m preparing for my next competition, I’m also preparing for…. the beach! Whoo hoo! I am so excited to relax and get away for a few days. My parents and I will be headed to the beach just two days after the competition. I’m starting to gather up the clothes, beauty products, snacks, and other things I think I’ll need at the beach. I thought I’d share my personal favorites I’ll be packing, and some things you should remember to pack! I’m going to break it down into beauty, clothes, and healthy snacks. Let’s get started!




  • waterproof Mascara
    • any kind will do, but waterproof is a must for obvious reasons!
  •  tinted lip balm



  • white tee shirts
    • they go with everything from skirts to jean shorts. I love to get mine at Target.
  • jean shorts
  • white shorts
  • comfy shorts
  • wrap skirt
  • sun dress
  • t-shirt dress
  • off the shoulder top
  • floral top
  • tank tops
  • sweater
  • pj’s
  • undies
  • sandals
  • wedges
  • flip-flops for the beach
  • workout/running shoes if you plan on being active
  • workout clothes for hiking or outdoor activities
  • bikinis (i like to limit it to 2 or 3. It’s good to have options but you  don’t need to over pack)
  • one piece
  • baseball cap
  • sunhat
  • fun jewelry


some of my favorite protein/energy bars:

other yummy snacks:

  • trail mix
  • rice cakes and travel packets of almond or peanut butter
  • travel packs or protein powder (great to mix in oatmeal at the hotel) I like these from PEScience.


  • water bottle
    • I love Corkcicle because they keep your water ice cold for up to 24 hours!
  • sunglasses
  • beach bag
  • cross body bag
  • wristlet
  • reading for the beach – I’m taking a book and a few magazines!
  • your vitamins/supplements
  • cash for beach shops
  • extra sunscreen for your body
  • after burn sunscreen- I know you all wear sunscreen… but just in case!
  • camera – I’ll be bringing my cannon to get some quality shots and my polaroid for some fun snaps.

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I hope you all found this checklist helpful! Let me know what you’re beach (or pool) essentials are!
Stay happy and healthy.




Hey lovelies! Welcome back to my blog and thank you for reading! Today I wanted to write the first post in a series I’ll be calling “Stop Fearing and Start Fueling.” This series will be focusing on common foods the media labels as “bad” and debunking the myths behind them and also the “fear food” we create for ourselves and how to overcome them. I know a lot of my readers are girls who have a past with eating disorders or unhealthy relationships with food, so I hope this can help shed some light on why we should stop fearing certain foods. I also know a lot of you just want some insight on healthy living, so this series can help provide some truth and information on why certain foods you may think are “bad” really aren’t. Today I wanted to just start by talking about the idea of “good” food and “bad” food.

Let’s stop fearing and start fueling. (hashtag worthy? let me know)

(I would like to preface this blog post by clarifying that I am not a doctor, dietician, etc, and am simply sharing my own knowledge through research and experience. If you have any dietary restrictions, please follow your doctor’s guidelines for what is healthy for you. If you are struggling with any type of eating disorder I encourage you to seek help and visit a doctor and dietician.)

I’d like to start off by saying I believe there is no such thing as “good” and “bad” foods. I do believe there are foods that are more nutrient dense and foods that are less nutrient dense, but I don’t like to “food shame.” Of course I don’t believe McDonald’s is especially good for you (as far as the ingredients and chemicals they add to their food) but I also don’t think having McDonald’s once in a while is bad.

Labeling food as “good” or “bad” implies you are better for eating “good” or worse for eating “bad.” No, food doesn’t have morals and what you eat makes you no better or no worse than anyone else.


What is healthy or not healthy for someone is going to depend on their own situation. Everyone is different. Not only do we look different, but we are genetically and biochemically different as well. Food allergies and intolerances are good examples.

Lifestyle also plays an important role for someone’s dietary needs. An athlete will need much fuel than someone who is sedentary. A runner will likely need many more carbs than someone that just leisurely goes to the gym a few times a week.

For someone who is overweight and dealing with diabetes, Ben & Jerry’s in that case would be “un-healthy” for them because they probably need to be focusing on a lower sugar, lower calorie diet with the goal of improving their health. On the other hand, for a girl recovering from an eating disorder, who may need to gain weight and mentally need to challenge herself to having the ice cream- Ben & Jerry’s would be a very healthy choice for her. Her body needs those calories, fats, and carbs, and also it’s a big mental step to overcome. This example shows that just saying “ice cream is bad” makes no sense. The ice cream is not “bad”, it just depends on the context.


The terms “good” and “bad” food usually only refer to health. But food is and should be more than just fuel. For most us, food has the ability to increase our quality of life and also happiness! When we think of food only for the health benefits, we might be missing out on overall happiness. Happiness does play a big role in our overall health. And isn’t that what it’s all about? What is the the point of living a long “healthy” life if you are unhappy doing it?

Of course, if you strictly focus on “foods that make you happy” and only enjoy fast food and neglect nutrient dense foods, it can eventually make you unhappy and unhealthy. It is all about balancing and trying to maximize both happiness and health. Besides, how “bad” is a food really, when it makes you so happy to eat it once in a while?

The media way too often tries to tell us which foods are “bad” and which foods are “super” and will “prevent disease”  in some magical way. Nobody wants to click on a Facebook article that says “The Key to Being Healthy is All About Balance and We Can’t Say What That Will Be For You.” No, that is long and boring. People want a quick fix and need a catchy title to draw them in. “Lose Weight Only Eating Bananas” or “10 Foods That May Be Secretly Killing You.” Let me tell you, you can eat as much kale and chia seeds as you want – but those alone are not going to make  you healthy. “Health” has so many factors including your exercise, sleep, hormones, and is completely unique to each individual. We can’t simply say that eating super foods is an all across the board “fix” to our health.

Besides from “worshipping” certain foods, the media try to demonize other foods. Like one food is what’s going to make you unhealthy or gain weight. I am a nutrition nerd and I love learning about it, but nothing bothers me more than the people that try to shame others for what they choose to eat. Dairy may not be great for some people, but I’m not going to tell someone it’s “bad.” For example, I don’t think of butter as “bad” like many people think, it’s actually a very healthy fat and has no proven negative effects on health – but that’s another conversation for another day. 😉

Before you get drawn in to what media has to say, do your own research and ask yourself what you think about it.


For me, a big part of my health journey was actually focusing less on being perfectly “healthy” with food. I had to learn that “unhealthy foods” (I put that in quotes because again- who determines what’s unhealthy for me??) had a place in a healthy balanced diet. The fact that I feared eating pizza was more unhealthy than if I actually ate that pizza. Mental stress and fear around food does more damage to our health than a slice of pizza ever could. I had to learn to see food for what it was. I had to learn to talk myself through it in my head. “Yes that pizza has more calories than my typical dinner, but what are calories again? They are units of energy. Okay, so it’s just more energy. And pizza is really just bread. I like bread. With cheese. I like cheese. Tomato sauce and veggies and meat. Cool.” Not so scary when you break it down right?

Of course I am not saying I eat pizza everyday. I really like fueling my body with whole food sources like meats, rice, sweet potatoes, oats, peanut butter, eggs, avocados, fruit, veggies, etc… but I don’t just eat those things because I “have to.” It’s a choice and I choose to eat other things when I want to. But I am still working on my own journey to being completely guilt free when I eat foods I’m not as comfortable with. And that’s okay. I want to show you guys it’s OKAY to feel like that, but it’s not okay to let it effect you. If you’re out with friends at a restaurant and you want to order a burger but you feel like you “should” order a salad, stop and think. Do you want a salad because you truly want that salad or is it because you’re trying to order something low calorie? It’s totally cool to want a salad, I love salad. But’s also cool to want a burger. And you should honor that. It’s not cool to think a burger is “bad.”

I hope this post wasn’t too rambly for you and maybe helped a bit. Let me know your thoughts on the idea of “good” and “bad” food and what you’d like me to talk about next.



Hey guys! Today I’m sharing a few of my favorite meal ideas lately. These are just inspiration, I’m not going to be listing excact portions/calories because that’s not the point. These are simply some healthy meal ideas and unique combos to serve as inspiration for you own meals!

So let’s get started!

My go to breakfast has been an egg white omlette with spinach (topped with reduced sugar ketchup or hot sauce) and a bowl of oats with blueberries. Coffee with almond milk and stevia – always.

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I’ve also been liking protein oats – just mix in a scoop of protein powder (my favorite is PEScience Snickerdoodle) into your oats and top with your favorite toppings. I’ve been loving ground flax seed and Justin’s Maple Almond Butter.

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One of my favorite mid day meals has been white rice, chicken, and avocado. It’s so simple but I honeslty love it and don’t get tired of it. I always top it with some hot sauce, sea salt and Mrs. Dash Chipotle seasoning.

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Dinner is usually a big salad for me. I genuinely love salads and I don’t just eat them because they’re “low carb”. As you can see below I actually added carbs to this salad in the form of some baked potato.  Also in the salad: chicken, salted almonds, avocado and green beans (I used whatever leftover veggies I have in the fridge). For dressing I like to mix apple cider vinegar, mustard and olive oil.


I made these sweet potato protein pancakes as a post worout snack the other day and they’re perfect for breakfast or any meal. I just mix 1 scoop of protein, 1/4 cup mashed sweet potato, 50 grams (about 1/4 cup liquid egg whites), cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. baking soda, and 1/4 cup almond milk (any kind of milk works) or water. Whisk together and cook in a sprayed pan on low heat. I topped them coconut oil and sugar free syrup. (note: I was not on prep I’d use full calorie pure maple syrup!)

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You guys all know (if you follow me on Instagram stories) that I am obsessed with nightly smoothie bowl. It’s thick like ice cream, sweet, and just always hits the spot. Not to mention it’s HUGE because of all the ice I use.

Smoothie Bowl:

1 cup frozen blueberries (plus a few for topping)

1 scoop Snickerdoodle Protein Powder

1/5 cup almond milk (+ a litte water to get blending)

2 cups of ice

Blend! A Vitmaix works best

Top with cinnamon, and a tablespoon of peanut butter. SO GOOD.

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A treat I had last weekend (on a high carb day) that I thought was worth sharing was a pint of Chocoalte Halo Top topped with two birthday cake oreos. 😉

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Another post workout snack (also would be a great pre workout breakfast) was this peaches n cream cream of rice.

30 grams cream of rice

1 scoop Snickerdoodle Protein

Chopped peaches or nectarine microeaved in and topped fresh.


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I hope you all found these meal ideas helpful, and found some fun new combos to try. What are some of your favorite meals lately? I’d love to know!
Stay happy and healthy.





Hey y’all! Today I wanted to talk about something that’s been on my mind lately and that is the idea of “balance.” Particulary balance when it comes to the way we eat and exercise. Finding that balance between “healthy foods” and “not healthy food” or tracking your macros and intuitive eating or working out and taking rest days… it can ben hard. It can be especially hard for those of us who come from a past with body image issues, disordered eating, or the fear of losing control. I can say that I have found a balance that works for me, but I am by no means perfect and still have days I find myself struggling to feel balanced at all.

First of all, “balance” is going to mean something different to everyone. We are all unique individuals with different mental and physical needs, we should not judge others on their idea of balance.

“Balance: a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions.”

When I think  of “balance” with food I think of eating in a way that nourishes your body, is health consious (not obsessed), and you enjoy other things in moderation just because you want to. Theres no guilt attached to indulging and no feeling reward attached to eating “healthy.” It’s simply how you eat and you make choices based on how you feel at that point in time.


On social media, I see alot of talk about finding balance. And for many they look to flexible dieting to do that, or… they’ve become too obsessed with flexible dieting and they want to find balance through more intuitive eating. I think for alot of people that I see, flexible dieting has really helped them overcome restrictive eating. It did so for me. I realized that there are no “good foods” and “bad foods” and that I could eat what I wanted and reach my fitness goals. It also helped me understand how the body uses different amounts of each macro nutrient: protein, carbs, and fats. Learning about macro counting really helped me when recovering from my eating disorders, because I was afraid of so many foods. White bread, rice, sugar, oils, artificial sweetners, and anything that I thought was “bad.” Flexible dieting helped me to find more of a “balance” when it came to food choice.

For someone that is competing in body building, tracking your macros and following a strict diet is not because they have an eating disorder. It’s because it takes precision to reach that goal. But if you’re not competing, tracking every bite of food you eat may not be healthy. It can turn into an obsession. Counting macros is an amazing tool, and allows you to eat a wide variety of food, but when your My Fitness Pal app turns into something you can’t live without – it becomes its own type of eating disorder.

Looking back, before I started prep I was way too strict with myself. I would still track my macros almost every day but listened to my body. I ate more if I needed too. I did enjoy the occasional “cheat meal” (I’ll make another post on why this actually is not a good term to use) with friends, but usually felt guilty afterwards. I was still worried about what I ate. I felt like I “couldn’t” eat the pizza or cake in my school caf because it couldn’t fit in my macros. I know I was keeping my fitness goals in mind, but I could have been more balanced.

Moving forward, after my next show, I plan to use macro counting simply as a guide and tool for me to check in on how I’m fueling my body. I’ve been doing it long enough that I should feel confident in just choosing some grilled chicken, rice, and veggies and know approximately how much I’m consuming without feeling the need to always weight it out and track it in an app.

I will be reverse dieting to build my metabolism, so I will need to track for a while so my coach can know what’s going on and what he needs to change. But once I get to a place that I feel my metabolism is running very efficiently, I want to challenge myself to intuitive eating and not track for a while. I think it’s good for anyone to take a break once in a while and it will be really good for me mentally. Of course I’ll still be eating nutrient dense foods, but it won’t be so meticulous. I also want to be able to just enjoy college and go out for spontaneous pizza and ice cream.

Pizza is not what’s unhealthy, its worring that it’s going to make you fat is what’s unhealthy. Having a perfect diet is not what’s healthy, but being at peace with food is healthy.

Let me know what you think of balance.




show day

Hey guys! If you follow my fitness Instagram @stephbalanced_fit, then you’ve probably seen my journey of prepping for and competing in my first fitness competition. I haven’t been blogging lately, but I want to pick it back up and I thought I should start by updating you with all that’s going on! Also before we hop in – I may be changing my ftness Instagram to my main instagram and renaming it to match this blog. Let me know what you think.

You can watch my show day vlog here, too!


Let’s do a little recap on the competition!

My first competition was a few weeks ago, the Dexter Jackson Classic in Memphis, TN and I have another local show in a few weeks. Back in January I decided I would want to compete this summer, so I decided to do a 3 month “bulk” to put on the added muscle I would need before cutting (leaning out/losing body fat) for the show. I started prep in April, and prepped for about 14 weeks for this first show.

The competition was one of the most weekends of my life! The venue was beautiful and everyone running the show made it so enjoyable and as stress free as possible. Seeing 14 weeks of hard work come together on stage was so rewarding. I’ve found I have a true passion for this sport and it combines so many things I love.

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I ended up coming home with 3 trophies, which was I wasn’t expecting at all! I won True Novice, Teen, and placed 3rd in Open Class B. Words can’t explain how happy and grateful I was. After the show, I went out to celebrate with my dad and Hayden and we enjoyed a good burger, sweet potato fries and an amazing deep dish chocolate chip cookie skillet topped with ice cream. And we can’t forget the Gibson’s Red Velvet Donut Hayden had waiting for me when I got off stage. I enjoyed the next day and we went out for brunch, before hopping back on track for the next show. I’m currently 3 weeks out!

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I want to share a few things I’ve learned, observed and want to share with you all.

Competing definitley is not for everyone. It takes a lot of discipline and sacrifice if you want to be successful. It can also trigger obsessive exercise and food behaviors for people that have a past of disordered eating. I honestly did not experience that during my prep, but it’s something to be aware of. I obviously had to meticulously track and weigh my food – but it’s for the purpose of the sport – not out of the obsession with food or the fear of gaining weight. There’s a big difference.

Another thing to remember is that getting stage lean, or getting abs – is not natural for your body. It’s a temporary state, and is NOT HEALTHY for a prolonged period of time. Being at such a lean state and in a calorie deficit does affect your hormones. Some are more affected by this than others- especially women. You absolutley need to put on some healthy body fat post show, and work closely with your coach to reverse diet properly. My coach, Paul Revelia has awesome information on his YouTube channel. You can check out his coaching offers at

I will do more posts on body fat, hormones and health very soon. 🙂 But overall, I think competing is amazing, but you have to do it for the right reasons.

Some things to remember if you’re considering competing:

  1. Getting stage lean will not and cannot fix: 1. un healthy body image 2. unhealthy relationships with food

2. People will not love you any more or any less if you compete.

3. Competing does not validate your fitness level.

4. Competing is very expensive. Don’t do it unless you know you have the money too or have saved for it.

5. During prep, it can easily take over your life and you will have to sacrifice certain things for a period of time.

6. If you don’t like structure, you’ll probably hate prep. If you like structure (like me) you’ll find it hard but still enjoy the process. Make sure you evaluate this before hand.


I hope you all found this post helpful, and let me know what else you’d like me to talk about! I’ll update you on my next show and also my post-show plans. 🙂

Stay happy and healthy.