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December 1, 2019

Live Well 2019: December

Welcome to the final installment of the renewed guest post series of Live Well 2019, thanks to my dear friend/client/Bible study buddy, Sarah! The previous stint of fabulous Live Well guest posting was done by my sister, Lindsay Wampler, from 2016-2017.

This time around, we posted once a month for the year of 2019, in tandem with The Pro Player Timeline posts.

Sarah Blomgren is another California-Christian-Volleyball-Crazy who has played in England, Finland, Serbia, and is now in Spain. Sarah adds a deeper dimension to being a professional athlete abroad with her commitment to maintaining a plant-based diet based on vegan guidelines, developing her professional profile, and growing as an athlete and person.

Sarah and I met through Elite Volley, and we have been a part of Athletes in Action online Bible study groups for professional athletes overseas. It only seemed fitting for us to also share our idea space for 2019 to better equip and encourage our fellow athletes and expats abroad!


We have been going through the book of Acts in our pro volleyball Bible study group, and it has been so great! Acts is about the beginning of the early Christian church where we see the first Gospel preaching from Jesus' disciples. There is so much encouragement in this book for current believers in Christ. It is challenging and convicting as well, as far as the formation of the body of Christ and how far we have drifted from that in some ways.

Last week we read Acts 10 and the big takeaway I got from it stemmed from verses 34-35 when Peter says, "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism, but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right." I love this picture of inclusion; God had this idea from the beginning, and it will come to fruition when Jesus comes again and we will see a multitude of people from every tribe, every nation, every tongue, gather together and praise the Lord. (Revelation 7:9)

Dig Deeper Recommendation

At this point y'all should know I love me some podcasts. I found a new one, called Sheologians. (Get it?? Like Theologians, but they are females. I think it's clever.) Anyway, I have listened to a few episodes and these two women are very insightful and Biblically sound in their doctrine. They are super relatable and funny. They are from the Christian reformed camp, so some of their stances really intrigued and challenged me, but I think it's good to hear all sides of issues. They are also connected to Apologia studios, which is a Christian Apologetics media platform that has amazing content.

Stay on-task and motivated throughout the month for FREE!

Smoothie Mix Master

Vegan Peppermint Patty Smoothie
We have got to get in the holiday spirit, so if this doesn't get you there, then you might need to bump up your Christmas Spotify playlist and string up some twinkle lights.

1/2 cup full fat coconut cream
1 ripe banana
2 Tbsp raw cacao powder
Handful raw spinach
Few mint leaves
1 medjool date
1 Tbsp peppermint extract
1/2 tsp of each: ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg

Mobility Move

We are going ALL OUT for this last month with some total bod mobility! And if you want to get in the Christmas spirit for the month of December, just throw on a Santa hat as you do these moves! Okay, for this one you will need a long stick (or in the strength & conditioning world, a "dowel"). I love warming up for volleyball practice or a weights session with the dowel because of its multipurpose use -- you can hit all the major areas. Some of these include: shoulders, thoracic spine, hamstrings/quads, hips.

Hard to explain all these movements, so here are a few pictures:

^Shoulders (I also rotate in a circle as well as front to back with the dowel)

^Thoracic spine with a lunge

^Overhead squat with dowel (great for working on squat technique without weight)

^Prone, overhead lift-offs (with straights arms at the start, lift the dowel and squeeze shoulder blades down as you pull the dowel behind your back to the base of your neck and then slowly back to starting position)

^Good mornings (great hamstring activation)

Plant-Based Meal

We got options this month! I may have mentioned one of my favorite food bloggers, Rainbow Plant Life, before, and I will mention her again. In the spirit of the holidays, she put together a list of 30 different recipes to impress your whole fam with totally vegan food. Hers is specified for Thanksgiving (classic American holiday), but I think the flavors and ideas are universal for all winter holiday dishes.

My personal favorite that I will most definitely be making for my family this Christmas is the Wild Mushroom Stuffing. But if you give any one of these a try, you will not be disappointed!

Vegan Snack/Treat

Biscoff Banana Cake Brownies
This one I completely created off the top of my head and didn't measure (classic me) or write down what I used (also classic me), but they were a hit at my Bible study group so I will attempt to remember the recipe so y'all can recreate it.

Biscoff cookies
Vegan butter (melted)
*Combine in food processor until crumbly crust forms and then press into a parchment paper-lined brownie pan. Then place in fridge to cool when making the rest.

Mashed banana
Coconut oil
Peanut butter
Soy milk agave
Vanilla extract
*Combine in medium-sized bowl
Oat flour (or flour of your choice) ((I think I combined oat & whole wheat flour))
Baking powder
Pinch of salt
Maca powder
*Add to wet ingredients and pour over the cooled crust
*Sprinkle crushed Biscoff cookies on top
*Add chocolate chips if you want (I will do this next time)
*Bake at 375 for about 10-12 minutes


Hey, friends. I'm Sarah. In addition to what Christy mentioned above, I played indoor and beach volleyball in college at The University of South Carolina where I earned my bachelor's degree in Exercise Science. I then went on to get my master's degree in Clinical Exercise Physiology and continued my volleyball career at Northumbria University in Newcastle, England. My first pro season was in Finland, then in Serbia, and now I'm playing this season in Spain.

Since then I've become 100% plant-based (vegan) and I absolutely love this world of plant-based nutrition. One fun fact about me would be that I have an obsession with doughnuts! No, not like Krispy Kreme; like actual artisan, small-batch, crazy flavor doughnuts! I try to use all my traveling as an excuse to visit doughnut shops around the world. Besides that, I love Jesus and I'm just here to figure this thing called life out the best I can through His eyes.

Connect with Sarah on FacebookInstagram, and her website.
You can contact her directly via email for more information on Juice Plus+® sarahblomgren[dot]provolleyball[at]gmail[dot]com.

Let us know in the comments below if you try any variations of these delicious recipes, yoga moves, or have the chance to check out Sarah's recommendations!
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The Pro Player Timeline: December

Working from The Pro Player Timeline: Overview, this individual month post focuses on what a professional player overseas - or an aspiring pro player - should be outlining each specific month of the year like.


Navigating Sports Abroad blog post.

Play Abroad 101 for the most accurate preparation in print.

The Pro Player Timeline: Daily 

The Pro Player Timeline: Weekly.

Most players looking to play professionally overseas don't really have any idea how to do it! This is not your fault; unless you know someone who has done it or have incredible connections already in the pro world of your sport - you try searching Google and barely anything comes up. A few agencies, some club team pages, maybe an incomplete Wikipedia page about a league or two.

Beyond Athletic Podcast:

How to Give 100% Without Fear with Dino Marcan

Pro sports are cyclical. What might be a frenzy of hiring in August right before the season starts can occur again in January at mid-season transfer periods. Players coming out of university eligibility are ready to go pro at different times, depending on graduating in December or May.

How you handle the months of your year will vary depending on if you are already signed and with your team or not signed with anyone yet. The first section of this post will deal with "When you are signed," and the second section of this post will give advice for what to do "When you are not signed yet."


December can be an absolutely magical month abroad! Hopefully, your team is having a decent season so you can have the energy to enjoy the festive atmosphere in your spare time. This is the month to look outward and think about the new relationships you may have already invested in and make it a priority to continue building your community through your generosity.

Of course, you should already have a healthy community of relationships in your team. If this is still difficult at this point (for whatever reason), choose to focus on the one or two players you get along with the best and really connect with those teammates to keep building value into the team you spend with your team. You can also be investing in your peer community of other foreigners playing abroad via social media, small group video calls (like an online Bible study), visiting other pro players during your off-days, etc.

This is also a great chance during the Christmas season to build community by reaching out to players on the youth teams in your club, fans who consistently come to matches, neighbors, and the people you interact with in stores, restaurants, and so on. You can create handmade gifts, throw a cookie-baking party, give out the cookies you bake, educate the world about the fun of ugly Christmas sweaters; the sky is the limit on how you can build community during December!

If you are not on a team yet, you are working to build community through networking with other players, coaches, agents, and clubs in your sport. Great places to find other professional players are Instagram and Facebook, friends of friends, and just keep asking people to connect you with any and all the people overseas they know. Even people overseas who aren't playing sports can be a huge help with learning about travel and visa requirements, how to adapt to the culture, and what to bring with you.

Generosity can go a long way in making connections abroad. As the outsider, it is important to be generous with ideas, thoughts, time, space, stuff, and basically...everything. This generosity of spirit fits with the season, but it also can be a great mindset to live by and bring to every team you get to be a part of in your life, both in and out of your sport. Having an open and giving heart is what will ultimately create and sustain your community abroad while also maintaining your connections back home.

More inspiration here >>> Live Well 2019: December

Every month of your year can be outlined with a theme, enhanced with motivational reminders, and structured in a way that your day-to-day activities promote your short and long term growth and well-being.

When you have already signed...

Create a highlight video from the matches you have played so far. Upload to your social media platforms.
Pick 1-2 of your best matches from the first half of season and upload to your Google Drive.
Update your CV to reflect your current team and fresh playing links.
Think of new traditions for the Christmas holiday that you can implement with your new community if you are not returning home.
It's a great idea to invite your family and friends to celebrate the holiday in your part of the world, too!
If returning home, take back the things/clothing you haven't used and think about the items you have missed to bring back with you.
Pay attention to your nutrition during the holiday season; enjoy the food, but remember you are in the middle of your season and your eating choices should show that.
Continue maintenance workouts during any time off you may have.

When you are not signed yet...

Send holiday greetings to all the contacts you have made so far with players, coaches, agents, and teams to check in on if they need any players (or have heard of any other teams needing players!) at the mid-season point.
Explore other possibilities for moving abroad with a job transfer, teaching English, teaching in international schools, freelancing, location-independent work, etc.
Take a tryout trip right after Christmas that lasts until at least the middle of January for your best possible chances of finding a team...and be open to the idea that maybe you’ll even find another job locally and just play for fun on the team you find!
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November 13, 2019

German Swag 101: Mother/Daughter Days in Dresden

I got to take my mom with me to one of my favorite cities in Europe: DRESDEN!!!

We had my parents' flights planned since late May, but it wasn't until the middle of August that my volleyball schedule really came into reality when I joined the Munich third division team. This put one of the weekends my parents would be here in Dresden!

We stayed two nights right smack in the middle of the Altstadt, and spent a perfect day browsing the rebuilt old city. We capped off the night with attending the Sleeping Beauty ballet at the Semperoper!

It was such a perfect trio of days to spend with my mom in such a beautiful place. I will love Dresden no matter who I get to go with, but this trip will always hold an extra special place in my heart. Thank you, Mom, for trusting me with the plans, clothes, and directions!!!

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November 6, 2019

German Swag 101: Dear Parents

Dear Dad & Mom,

I don't know if I can ever adequately express just how much it meant to me that you were both able to come visit us. Thank you. I know "traveling" does not come as naturally to you as it does to me, but you both took everything in stride and I know you worked hard to be positive and open to enjoying your time here.

I am so, so thankful we were able to experience Salzburg and The Sound of Music Tour together. Obviously, that movie was a huge part of our home life, and has extended into our adulthood with sweet memories, especially when Lindsay had "Edelweiss" playing as Dad walked her down the aisle at her wedding. Thank you for wanting to spend that kind of musical day with me.

Mom, thank you for trusting me with the plan to visit Dresden. I can't count how many cities I have gone to and wished I could bring you with me, but it was absolutely wonderful to get to take you to Dresden first. I hope we have more chances for mother-daughter trips like that, and maybe Lindsay can join us, too, someday.

Thank you both for appreciating our little corners of life in Vilsbiburg, Dingolfing, Landshut, and Munich. You got to see so much of where we go, what we do, and who we are with -- that meant a lot to us, to our friends here, and I think it meant a lot to you guys as well.

Finally, thank you for coming to my practices and games, whether I was a coach or a player. You guys are the reason I ever was introduced to volleyball; you paid for and supported my career all throughout growing up, and to get to share more volleyball moments with you -- all these years later -- is such a blessing and privilege. I'm sorry my team couldn't quite get the wins while you were here, but it was such an honor to have my parents in the stands there with me.

It's like every season that passes, I am never totally sure if there will be another one, and I feel very lucky that I have been able to continue playing into my thirties and that both of you were able to experience this with me (and also Lindsay last season). Thank you for hanging out at the practices and cheering during the games. It may have seemed like a small gesture, but it was the best present I could have ever asked for.

It was unreal to have you here. Thank you for making the effort to be here.

I love you both very much, and I hope we can make this happen again someday.



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