Set It Down Spotlight with Amanda
Set It Down Spotlight
Q & A with Amanda Da Costa
Meet Amanda Da Costa of New York. Amanda was a professional soccer player who is now using her skills to help others lead a healthy life. Her business, Advantage Training, combines psychology with physical fitness to help individuals find a sustainable way to lead healthy and fit lifestyles. She believes that a healthy morning routine is key to having a great day. If she isn’t playing soccer or training with individuals, then she is taking her dogs on adventures or cooking with her fiancé. She has control over her screen usage- creating “digital non-negotiables” like not looking at her phone before 9 am or setting down her screen on Saturdays. We had a great time learning from her and she makes us want to put on our cleats and hit the soccer fields. We know many of you will find her routine and “digital non-negotiables” a great resource and a great way to start setting it down! Keep reading for our Q & A!
Name, Age: Amanda Da Costa, 31
Where are you located? New York
What is your background? I was a professional soccer player for 7 years and played Division 1 soccer at Florida State University for 4 years. I played and lived in England for 2 of those years and spent the other 5 years playing in the NWSL in the US moving from city to city. I also played for the Portuguese National Team in the European Championships. I was lucky to combine my love for travel with my love for soccer. Currently, I am 3 months away from being a licensed Psychologist as I finish up my master’s degree, while running my own company- Advantage Training. Advantage Training combines psychology with soccer and physical fitness to help individuals of all ages find a sustainable way to lead healthy and fit lifestyles. I work with adults who want to reach their fitness goals and youth athletes looking to become ballers on the soccer field and earn college scholarships.
What is your day-time routine? I wake up and turn my coffee pot on! Then I let my dogs outside, and I go outside with them-- I love getting in some sunlight first thing in the morning to help me regulate my circadian rhythm and wake me up! Then I foam roll or stretch to get some blood flowing while I drink some water and a cold press juice. Then I finally have coffee while I make my breakfast…notice how my phone is not involved at all during my morning routine. I am telling you my morning routine rather than my day-time routine because I think your morning routine is the most important part to your day. Building off of a healthy start filled with nutrients, sunlight and movement, allows me to make healthier choices during my day…which can sometimes be unpredictable.
Favorite Hobby/Hobbies? My favorite things to do are to be outside with my two dogs. Whether we are hanging out in our backyard or going for walks or hikes, my favorite thing to do is to spend time with them. I also love movement of all sorts—it’s cliché to say that exercising and working out is a hobby of mine, but it really is something that is a non-negotiable for me when it comes to my day. It’s also something that me and my fiancé love to do together. My other hobby is cooking, I love spending time in the kitchen and preparing healthy meals or treats. I find it very relaxing and a creative outlet!
Favorite Hobby when you were a kid, before access to loads of screens? When I was a kid I was obsessed with soccer- which seems like the obvious answer to this question for someone who became a professional soccer player. I couldn’t get enough of the game and played it all day 24/7, inside or outside. In general, I was a really active and creative kid. I was ALWAYS outside, getting dirty, being adventurous and I loved using my imagination. Me and my best friends would play outside all day with our imaginary friends, making up games and magical scenarios that seem ridiculous now---but to this day when I get together with these friends these are the memories that have stuck with us after all of this time….and we also didn’t have social media…we had dial up internet LOL!
What makes you the happiest and best self? I am my happiest self when I am immersed in the moment around me and when I am outside. I feel happiest when I am enjoying my favorite hobbies, with the people that I love. Honestly, I am happiest when I am not on my phone because that means that I am doing something genuinely worthwhile- without the need for looking at it.
What is the biggest struggle for you when it comes to screens/your phone? (Lack of control, scrolling, nothing...). My biggest struggle with my phone is what my fiancé and I call “getting sucked in”. This means when we get stuck aimlessly scrolling. I know that I am doing it, but sometimes it is just really hard to stop. I get very little fulfillment out of scrolling through Instagram- it doesn’t bring me joy and is used more of a filler if I feel like I have nothing else to do. Sometimes it starts off as innocent. I had a busy day and get to just sit and relax, scroll through Instagram and see what’s going on. But then it escalates and I find myself stuck into my phone, not using my mind or emotions. I sometimes catch myself subconsciously comparing myself to what I see on the screen in front of me which is NEVER a good thing—but these media platforms are designed to just this.
How do you digital detox? I have “digital non-negotiables” that I put into place that I MUST stick to. It is just a rule that I have set for myself. While it was challenging in the beginning, it is very easy now and something that I don’t even have to think about anymore. I don’t go on my phone in the morning while I am getting ready. I will look at my phone for the first time when I get to work in the morning around 9 AM while I get settled into my work environment and before my day takes off. At night I put my phone down by 9 PM so I am not using a screen or exposing myself to blue-light before it is time for me to go to sleep. I do go to sleep late- I settle into bed at 11 and read, and then I fall asleep between 1130-1145. I have recently started doing unplugged Saturdays which have been life changing. I have seen a dramatic difference in my mood on Saturday’s---think of it as a light fluffy feeling free of responsibilities—and it’s something that I actually look forward to doing now.
What were the “Rewards” of setting it down? Not going on my phone first thing in the morning sets the tone for me for the rest of the day. If I go on my phone right away, then that habit will likely continue during the day and I find that I am not productive or creative if this happens. Being off my phone helps me connect with the world around me in a more satisfying way. I feel better about myself and can pay more attention to my mental health and self-worth. I can’t explain why but detaching from technology psychologically brings us back to the primitive and natural state that we are meant to be in- interacting with our environment, peers, and more importantly, ourselves.
What is your best advice for someone who wants to help implementing screen free activities? My advice is to start off with a small window—like putting a limit on your morning or nighttime usage and sticking to it until it has become a habit. Don’t add in any other restrictions before this becomes habit. Going “cold turkey” might not be sustainable for curbing your technology habits in the long run and the goal is to make setting down your devices part of your life!
Want to learn more about Amanda? Check her out at these locations: