Name: Alaina McCraner
University / College: Indiana University, South Bend
Faith & Fitness Magazine: Growing up, did you play sports, do outdoor adventure activities, do physical work or volunteering, group exercise or weight lifting, etc?
Alaina McCraner: I played soccer for sixteen years of my life until I tore my ACL playing college soccer. I love the outdoors and being outside. I was always running around outside and playing barefoot. Since I played soccer, I was always active. I lifted weights as well.
Faith & Fitness Magazine: Wow, sorry to hear about the ACL! So with playing soccer and the ACL injury, how did that influence your “life” goals at the time?
Alaina McCraner: Playing soccer, I learned to work well with others and be a team player. I also learned how to push myself mentally and physically. My present goals are the same, even though I'm not playing soccer. Overcoming the situation with my ACL made me a stronger person. It strengthened my mind and body. It also brought me closer to God because I was praying often for healing and strength. Today I'm still lifting weights and I love the gym. My knee is completely healed and I can do everything I could before the tear.
Faith & Fitness Magazine: Now that is awesome, praise God. So how did you decide to go to Indiana University?
Alaina McCraner: I've actually transferred several times for college but ended up back at IUSB because I thought it fit well with what I wanted most. I wanted a university that cared about students and was close to home. I felt as though most of the professors here cared about my education and they even know my name. That was important to me - to be able to build relationships with my teachers. I'm very active and busy and having a school that is close to me was a big influence on why I chose IUSB. The classes are offered at a variety of times and days and that was helpful to my schedule.
Alaina McCraner: Soccer is definitely something that got me interested in fitness. I was always running around as a child and I played soccer starting at the age of five. I played for sixteen years and it always pushed me into the fitness world, by choice of course. I was always competitive and soccer gave me that extra edge.
Faith & Fitness Magazine: Do you have any favorite exercises or drills?
Alaina McCraner: I really like strength training and cardio. One of my absolute favorite lifts is the deadlift because I feel like my whole body is being utilized. I have always been a runner though so I
have to get my cardio done to. I love running outside or bike riding. I recently just started Jiu Jitsu too and I absolutely am in love with that martial art.
Faith & Fitness Magazine: Outside of practice, do you workout with friends, or do you prefer to workout alone?
Alaina McCraner: Honestly I prefer working out alone a lot. For some reason, I feel like I can focus more when I'm alone. It's also nice working out with friends or my boyfriend because if I find it difficult to get through something, it is nice having the extra encouragement. Jiu Jitsu has been great too because you are constantly working with others. I get the best of both worlds.
Faith & Fitness Magazine: Tell us about your workout routine.
Alaina McCraner: Since starting jiu jitsu, my workout routine has changed a lot.I try to workout at least four times a week, with rest days in between my workouts. I cut out a lot of weight lifting for jiu jitsu and I train 3 days with that. It’s a complete full body workout and I love that it’s not all about strength. You have to use your mind as well. There’s so many techniques and I love the self defense portion.
Faith & Fitness Magazine: Tell us about your nutrition plan.
Alaina McCraner: I don't have a set nutrition plan. I try to eat healthy, but I do allow myself to eat most things. I'm a firm believer that moderation is key. You can eat most things, as long as you're not eating a lot of them at a time. I try to get a lot of what I need in a day by the food I eat. I'm really trying to stay away from sugars and a lot of red meats. I also don't eat any pork whatsoever. Just those small changes to my diet are what work wonderful for me.
Faith & Fitness Magazine: If you use supplements, which do you use and why?
Alaina McCraner: I have strayed away from most supplements and try to gain everything I can from the foods I eat.
Faith & Fitness Magazine: Any plans to compete in athletics or in fitness or bodybuilding competitions? If so, tell us about it.
Alaina McCraner: I don't really have plans to compete in the near future. I just love the fitness world right now. As I mentioned, I just started jiu jitsu in June and would love to compete in tournaments eventually.
Faith & Fitness Magazine: Can you describe for us, briefly, how you came to know Christ as your personal savior and became part of His spiritual family?
Alaina McCraner: I never grew up going to church regularly. I always believed in God and always prayed but I really wasn't that close to Christ until my late teens and early 20's. I went on a church trip when I was around 20 years old and while I was praying, I heard God say my name. Many people would call me crazy, and at first, I thought I was crazy too. I thought someone was messing with me or whispering my name. Everyone had their head down and I know it was God calling my name. I heard "Alaina" loud as day and it sent chills through my spine. That's when I became really close to God.
Faith & Fitness Magazine: How is living for God shaping the way you view your fitness lifestyle?
Alaina McCraner: I am incredibly into taking care of my body. I've been going to a Seventh-Day Adventist Church in South Bend and Seventh-Day Adventism sees that taking care of your body is really important, and what you eat should be clean. This is just one thing I love about the religion and it ties in perfectly with my fitness lifestyle. I love working out because I love taking care of my body. I want to take care of the body God gave me, and that pushes me to get to the gym on days I may not want to go.
Faith & Fitness Magazine: What are the most visible characteristics of your personal faith in God? How do you live out your Christian faith?
Alaina McCraner: My literal most visible would be a tattoo I have on the inside of my arm. It's my favorite Bible verse, Psalm 91:4- "He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge. His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart." This goes along with my trials I've been put through to show my personal faith. I tore my ACL in 2011 and even though I don't play soccer anymore, I didn't quit on fitness. I prayed for strength and here I am! My grandfather passed away this February due to pancreatic cancer and going through that while taking classes and on track were very difficult. Through the loss I prayed for strength, and I think people see that you really can get through everything with God by your side.
I go to church every Saturday with my boyfriend. Seventh-day Adventism believes the end of the week is on Saturday so that is when we go to church. I just try to be my best self and live how God would want me to. I don't go out drinking every weekend or curse left and right. I try to find things to do that better myself and bring me closer to God.
Faith & Fitness Magazine: What are some of your favorite methods that help you to experience God?
Alaina McCraner: One of my favorite things to do is read daily devotionals to my boyfriend. I either read them when we wake up or right before we go to bed. The devotionals we read are as if God is speaking to you and they are always great reminders to be thankful and have faith that God's plan is bigger than any plans we have. I also love being outdoors. Going on walks, camping, or just experiencing the outdoors just show me how beautiful the world is. Hearing the birds sing in the morning makes me smile every single time. God is everywhere and being outside and hearing these things reminds me of it.
Faith & Fitness Magazine: Is there a path you imagine that God is setting for you after graduation that you are excited about?
Alaina McCraner: I think God has big plans for me. I've been pretty blessed in my life so far, and I can tell God has something in store for me. I'm on schedule to graduate in May 2017 and I have aspirations to travel. I want to see the world God has created. I have incredible wanderlust and I can feel that God knows this. I'm not sure what exactly I want to do after graduation but I know God will take care of me.
This article appears in the December 2016/January 2017 issue of Faith & Fitness Magazine.
Alaina was chosen to represent her school in the Top Bods On Campus 2016 feature.