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Through the Eye of a Lion

Kelsey Stacy

Through the Eye of a Lion

Motivation. It is found within the depths of our souls and serves as the
reason why we do or do not do something. I am sure many of you have
heard others talk about this concept before in some facet of your lives, but
have you ever broken this concept down and found your motivation? For
starters, let me share with you my motivation. I have had many forms of
motivation in my life, whether it was to please someone or to improve in a
particular skill, but nothing could prepare me for the motivation I discovered
when I was overseas. I was stationed in Fort Bliss, Texas for the first two
months of my deployment for training. During the first two weeks of this
training, my now ex-fiancée broke up with me over text the day my
grandmother lost her battle with Alzheimer’s. That was only the beginning.
Not only was I miles away from home dealing with a broken heart, my
leadership and I were having a hard time getting along. I missed my family,
my civilian life, and most importantly my freedom. As one of my NCO’s
(Noncommissioned Officers) described it, I was a “sad country song.” All
jokes aside, I was overweight, unmotivated, and broken down on the
inside. After a phone call with my younger sister Riley, something inside of
me had awoken. I had found my motivation, my family to include my little
sister. If it wasn’t enough to fix my life because of them, I wanted to do it for
myself. I wanted to dig myself out of the pit I had created, so I went to the
gym and watched what I ate. I started to see the pounds shed as well as
every negative thought I ever had about my life or myself. I started to
change physically, mentally, and spiritually. I fell in love with the process of
learning to love myself and pushing myself harder every day. I loved the
feeling of working out so hard that I felt it for days or sweating so much that
my shirt would look like I went swimming. I found my center, my focus, my
strength, in the gym. Maybe your story is similar to mine or maybe you
have yet to reach a point like this in your life, whatever it is, always
remember to find your motivation and use it as your “true north.” Stay to
your true north and it will never lead you astray. If you are having trouble
finding your motivation, I advise you to try these tips.

1. Surround yourself with people whose vision mirrors yours.

This one seems self-explanatory but I am not only referring to
your friends but family, co-workers, colleagues, you name it! Anyone that
you hang out or work out with. This will not only inspire you but it will keep
you in a good frame of mind and in line with your motivation.

2. Try something new.

If your current routine isn’t working, switch it up! Join a tribe
with the best coaches in the world (Heather and Kelsey)! You will not only
surround yourself with people whose vision mirrors yours but you will also
find a new form of motivation that you may not have had before such as
wanting to make your coaches happy or to have the greatest
transformation in your tribe.

3. Remind yourself of your motivation. Stay focused on your end

For me, I hung up some photos of myself before I started losing
weight to remind myself of where I started. Sometimes I would say it out
loud or write it in my journal, “I never want to be that person again. Good
job. Keep going. You’re doing well. Look how far you’ve come.” A little self
pep talk never hurt anybody and it might just help your mood.
My motivation is my family, my country, and the Americans I serve and
protect. What’s yours?

Ashton Dessert // Ambassador

Living Like A Lion: The Myth of the Fearless Leader

Kelsey Stacy

By D&L Ambassador, Sam Schleich

I bet if I asked you to name your biggest fear, it wouldn’t take you long to come up with something.  Chances are, it’s one of these ten things:

10. Trypophobia (holes)

09. Aerophobia (flying)

08. Mysophobia (germs)

07. Claustrophobia (small spaces)

06. Astraphobia (thunder and lightning)

05. Cynophobia (dogs)

04. Agoraphobia (open or crowded spaces)

03. Acrophobia (heights)

02. Ophidiophobia (snakes)

01. Arachnophobia (spiders)

This is a list of the top ten fears, according to a recent posting from entitled “Top 10 Phobias of All Time – 2017 Update”.  Most of these are the usual suspects.  Add in public speaking, clowns, and monsters under the bed, and I’m fairly certain you’ll be able to cover the full range of the average person’s greatest fears.  

… I’ll give you a moment to regroup yourself, now that you’re thinking of the creepy crawlies. …  Ready?  Let’s keep going.  We have some important things to discuss.

Today, I want to present three simple ideas regarding living life like a Lion when it comes to our fears.  First, you must name and own your fears.  And I’m not talking about the easy stuff, here. I prefer to dig a little deeper than these.  For example, my greatest fear is unfulfilled potential.  It’s a crazy downward spiral that can be entirely debilitating.  I’m often worrying about not having left it all on the table, whatever “it” is.  Take, for example, my thought process while writing this blog.  Am I stating this all in a way that readers will gain the most value from it?  Is this the best writing I can do?  Did I mean to include something else in here that I’ve missed out on a chance to say?  Have I done everything that I can?  What else, what else, what else?  The what if’s and uncertainty play out in my mind endlessly.  It’s exhausting, frankly.

Owning your fear suggests being able to understand the roots of it.  In my case, I think it comes down to an almost inability to surrender control.  If I am in control of the situation, then theoretically I know that everything that’s occurred has gone in such a way that the potential of that situation was maximized and the outcome is the best possible outcome that could have happened.  Nothing was left on the table.  No one is walking away with a sense of “I wish I had done this differently.”  Obviously, there isn’t much in life that actually goes this way.  We all end the day wondering if changing one little thing here or there could have led to something different, something better.  If you’re like me, you’re almost always wondering if you could have done more.  

Second, you must understand what parts of your fear you actually have control over.  This includes understanding how fear is limiting to you.  Look back at my internal commentary on writing this blog.  “Am I stating this all in a way that readers will gain the most value from it?”  I cannot control what others take away from what I write.  I can only write to the best of my ability.  Given that my fear is actually rooted in control, this is especially important for me.  But what if your fear is less within your control?  Do you avoid the situation?  Never go into a crowded room?  Never step outside so you won’t risk coming into contact with snakes or spiders?  Never get on a plane?  Or do you focus instead on controlling your reactions to these fears?  Living a life controlled by fear isn’t much of a life.  Confucius said it best:  “We all have two lives.  The second one begins when you realize you only have ONE.”  There will be situations in life that are totally outside of your control  In those moments, it’s essential that you focus your efforts not on avoiding the fear, but controlling your response to it.  Pastor Steven Furtick describes the power of fear in our lives this way in his book Crash the Chatterbox: “…fear often finds its power, not in our actual situation, but in what we tell ourselves about our situation.”  If we can live in the truth that we can’t control the situation, but we can control ourselves, our fears become much less… scary.

And that takes us to step three: challenge your fear.  Take the what-if’s and face them head on.  What would you be missing out on if you didn’t do that thing, or talk to that person?  What if you didn’t face that fear?  Most importantly, understand that if the worst happens, God will always be there as your solid rock from which rock bottom can be built.  The phrase “do not be afraid” (or a variation of it) is one of the most quoted statements in the Bible.  See Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”  Instead of assuming the worst could happen, question what could happen if it all went right.  After all: if the worst can happen, then so can the best.

No matter what your list of fears includes, what each of them have in common is their ability to limit you in your daily life.  If you spend your entire life avoiding your fears, you’ll limit your experiences.  More importantly, you’ll limit your impact.  As a leader, and as a LION, we are called to face our fears in such a way that we exhibit a lifestyle others wish to mimic and learn from.  There is a key take away here:

Great leaders are not fearless.  Instead, great leaders refuse to let their fears lead them.

I challenge you today: name and own your fear.  Take control of it.  Face it, and challenge yourself with it.  After all, perhaps you were born for such a time as this (Esther 4:14).


Sam Schleich currently works at a steel mill in eastern Iowa as the Environmental Coordinator. She is studying to be a personal trainer under the NSCA-CPT certification. She was part of the inaugural Alpha Female class under Evan Childs, and there she discovered her passion for leadership in the fitness community. When she isn't working or at the gym, she's most likely planning her next big adventure (usually in the form of Tough Mudders, Spartan races, concert-going, and traveling), exploring the great outdoors, spending time with her fur babies (Kolby and Fawkes), or spreading her love for Dande and the Lion. 


The Athlete's Guide To Eating Healthy On A Budget

Kelsey Stacy

by D&L Ambassador: Gabrielle Kassel (


Eating healthy on a budget, especially when you’re an athlete, weight-lifter, or wellness-junkie can seem pretty impossible, especially with all the hype around $14 dollar smoothies, $4 dollar fermented tea drinks, and $10 dollar jars of almond butter. But it is possible to find affordable, nutrient-packed food at any grocery store (yes, even Whole Foods!) if you know what to look for and how to cut costs.

Check out the 11  cost-cutting tips below and prepare to save on healthy-eats so you have extra cash for some D&L swag:


1. Go for generic and store-brands.

If you’re working out for 90 minutes or more, and especially if you’re doing high intensity workouts (like the Dande and the Lion Evolve Training Programs) you need to fuel up with good-for-you-foods. But guess what? It’s possible to eat whole-wheat pasta, chicken cutlets, and milk without the fancy organic or name-brand label! Couture chicken? Name-brand noodles? Who needs ‘em! It’s not that the quality is worse than their name-brand counterparts, but the prices are lower because they don’t need any fancy branding or marketing.


2. Keep your pantry stocked with healthy foods.

My pantry is always stocked with steel-cut oats, chia seeds, almond butter, a can of black beans, whole-wheat pasta, apple cider vinegar, chopped walnuts or raw cashews, a can of albacore tuna, and either vegetable broth or vegetable pho broth. Meanwhile, Heather and Kelsey keep theirs stocked with mixed nuts, nut butters, dried fruit, popcorn, rice, spring roll wrappers, oats, chick peas, black beans and supplements. Some nutritionists recommend stocking up on extra virgin olive oil, soy sauce, and honey, but because I do most of my cooking with butter or margarine, I only buy those items when my grocery list and pre-planned meals require them. Find the healthy pantry foods that you like and get stocked up on those!


3. Keep your refrigerator ‘lean & green’.

Spinach, kale, green apples and avocados are some of the lean & green foods you should keep in your fridge at all time. Spinach is only ~$2.00 per bag and it really packs a punch of vitamin A, vitamin K, and potassium, while being a great salad base or steamed side dish.  Kale is a bit more expensive than spinach at about ~3.50 a bunch, but of our recommended daily value, it gives us  206% vitamin A, 134% vitamin C, and a (holy cow) 684% of our vitamin K. Worth it? Totally worth it. Kale makes a great salad base, sauteed side, or crispy chip. Green apples are typically ~$1.50 per apple, or ~$5.50 for a pack of four and are both low in sugar and high in fiber. While I prefer my apples as a snack, or baked ~dessert style~, they are also great chopped up in a salad or in a morning smoothie. Finally, while avocados can be a bit pricey at $2.00 a pop, they have healthy fat, lean protein, more potassium than a banana, and tons of vitamins and minerals (consider this your multivitamin of the day).

Pickles (lots of probiotics), broccoli (lasts forever), and basil are also green & lean foods that are great to keep stocked in your refrigerator. I know Kelsey also likes to keep a bag of lemons, Medjool dates, hummus, sweet peppers, and coconut water on hand-which while they aren’t green, are delicious and healthy. Other foods and condiments such as greek yogurt, eggs, hot sauce, spicy mustard, salsa, tofu, and whole grain breads are options that you should try to keep stocked up on.


4. Meal prep.

After a long day at work it can be tempting to stop at your favorite sushi-takeout restaurant for a white-rice packed no-cook dinner, or order in “healthy” helping of Pad Thai from Seamless. While it is occasionally okay for your health (and budget) to splurge on a to-go meal, it is not something that should become a routine (because face it, we can’t afford it). The solution for fighting The Pre-Made Food Temptation is… (dun, dun, dun)... yep, you guessed it: meal preparation.

Prepping meals ahead makes it much easier to assemble healthy meals throughout the week. Additionally, because the healthy cooking is already done, it will be easier to commit to eating healthy throughout the week. Nutritionists and dietitians unanimously agree that meal prep is the key to fighting the urge to order take out or veer off the healthy-eating track.


5. Find healthy recipes you LIKE!

I also recommend figuring out which foods you never get sick of. For example, I eat the same breakfast every single day and still wake up craving it: overnight steel cut oats with chia seeds, walnuts, a tablespoon of almond butter and vanilla cashew milk. But, while I love the pesto chicken dish I make at least once a week, I can’t have the green-goodness more than two nights in a row without feeling unsatisfied. I have found some of my favorite protein-packed meals from the Customized D&L Vegan GF Meal plan (specifically the spicy tofu stir fry and buffalo tofu- who know tofu could taste so good?).

This part may take some experimentation, so start by keeping it simple with a protein/veggie combo with little or no sauces or extra ingredients. Once you find a combo you like, you can begin adding seasoning, vegetable variety, or sauces!


6. Make a grocery list (and follow it!).

This is essential to preventing impulse buys that jack up your grocery bill. Don’t know where to start? Determine how many meals you’ll have at home that week, and plan for 6-10 oz of lean protein per meal plus a veggie side. Once you’ve got that figured out you can add any ingredient you might need for a fun recipe. Thinking of doing stir-fry night? Add bamboo shoots and broccoli to the list. Thinking of making tofu curry? Add curry and green peppers to the list.

Walking into the store with a plan will help you avoid buying things you don’t need. If I’m particularly tight on budget one week I will mentally visualize what my route around the grocery store is going to be. For example pre-cut mango, Kombucha, and Halo Top are my weaknesses, so I’ll steer clear of those sections of the grocer at all costs. My grocery bill thanks me for it even if my taste buds cry a little.


7. Incorporate more plant-based proteins into your weekly meals.

While Kelsey and Heather are already ahead of the game with their plant-based meal guides and vegan lifestyle, some of us aren't quite ready to take the leap, so to speak. However, that doesn’t mean that we should avoid vegetarian and vegan food sources. Items like chickpeas, beans, lentils, tofu and tempeh cost pennies (!) in comparison to beef, salmon, and shrimp. On average, vegetarian proteins like beans, lentils, or tofu cost less than chicken, beef, and other meat products. For example, chicken breasts generally weigh in around $3.27 per pound compared to beans at $1.39, lentils at $1.49, and tofu at $2.50.

Eating enough protein is essential to maintaining a healthy diet especially when we are working out  (and trying to get those #gains). Moreover, protein is the nutrient that helps us feel satisfied, which is why it makes a great snack. For great plant-protein snacks try out edamame (from the freezer section), hummus and carrots, a handful of mixed nuts, or oats topped with seeds.


8. Don’t hate on canned foods.

Don’t cut canned foods from your diet when you’re on a budget; canned seafood items and beans are budget-friendly and will last in your pantry for months. Foods like canned tuna or canned salmon are great on top of salads, and they're just as tasty and less expensive than crab cakes, grilled salmon, or seared tuna. Other canned healthy foods include black beans, lima beans (yes legumes!), and even canned veggies. Before you put the canned item into your grocery cart take a look at the sodium content; some brands sneakily add salt or even sugar.  


9. Open your eyes to on-sale items.

When some of your favorite staples are on sale, stock up. You may end up spending more in the moment, but for non-perishables, it’s always worth it. For example, ground turkey (to freeze), whole wheat pasta, and your go-to nut butters are great items to find on the cheap. Some nutritionists recommend taking a look at a grocery stores website to get a sneak peek at what the sales are going to be, but in my opinion- ain't nobody got time for that!


10. Cut back on pre-cut/washed/made foods.

Foods such as pre-baked sweets, prepackaged and pre-washed greens, pre-blended spice blends, grated and pre-cut cheese, and pre-made dressings are a huge money-suck! The pre-washed, packaged version of basics like carrots or greens can cost nearly twice the price. She also suggests stocking up on in-season produce and substituting it for similar ingredients in your favorite recipes. If your budget is your priority, force yourself to grate the cheese yourself, make homemade salad dressings, wash your own greens, and make your own sweets. If it sounds impossible to cut back on all these delicacies at once, pick 2 or 3 to ditch to start, and then month by month cut away another unnecessary expense. Bottom line is, the least processed the better taste and deal!


11. Repurpose veggies that are past their prime.

Don’t look at your slightly wilted greens and think that, just because they’re not fresh enough for a salad, you need to get rid of them. Repurpose them by adding them to smoothies, soup, quiche, or grill them, and they’ll get an awesome second life. Blending wilted green with water or coconut water and freezing into ice-cubes is a fix and make perfect flavor-cubes for smoothies.


Author Bio: Gabrielle Kassel is a New York based writer who has a deep affinity for weight-lifting, living mindfully, and the em-dash. She is a D&L ambassador, freelance health and fitness writer, and the social media editor at ICE NYC ( In her free time she can be found reading self-help books, making soup, and practicing hygge.