A Season of Change

I know it’s been far too long since I’ve posted anything on my blog, but I’ve finally felt like it was time to update you all on what’s been going on in my life. School has started yet again! I’m finishing up my associates degree in Sociology, and once I get that degree, my hope is to get my bachelors in nutrition. On top of school, I recently got promoted at  TD Bank and started working in their corporate offices in Mt Laurel, NJ. I’m studying for my personal training exam which I will take at the end of October. Words cannot describe how excited I am to start that next chapter of my life!

I am so incredibly grateful to God for putting this passion of health and fitness in my life. Up until about February of this year I have always been undecided of what I wanted to do career wise. It wasn’t until I changed my lifestyle of eating and working out that I finally realized what God has set out for me. I cannot wait to help people strive to live happier, healthier lives through fitness and nutrition.

Most of you may know that I have been preparing for a fitness competition. 10 weeks ago I decided I was going to do my first bikini competition on October 26th. Since then, I have been on a strict diet and working out 5-6 days a week. I know a ton of people are disgusted with the idea of getting up on stage, wearing a bikini and being judged on your figure. For me, it wasn’t about that. It was never about vanity. It was always about the end goal. I wanted to get into the best shape of my life which meant putting hours into the gym every single week and putting clean, healthy food in my body every single day. It’s been a discipline. It’s been hard. On October 26th I would be able to prove to myself that I am strong mentally and physically. I’ve had so many great supporters pushing me along and encouraging me throughout this entire process. I am so incredibly grateful for them. But what I recently decided was that the timing is not right. I’ve pulled out of the competition. I’m extremely disappointed but know that this is the right decision.

There are a couple reasons why; first, competitions are expensive. The cost of buying food and supplements has definitely hurt the wallet and there are still some big purchases I need to make for it. My sister and I are trying to save up to move out and that is a huge priority right now. I can’t wrap my mind about dropping hundreds of more dollars when I have something bigger planned. Secondly, I’m not happy. It’s hard for me to say that but it’s the honest truth. This diet has been so hard to stick to for the past 10 weeks that I’m just very unhappy. Of course I craved sweets and things I shouldn’t eat when preparing for this competition so when I caved and had a “cheat meal” or some dessert, I would get so furious with myself. I felt like I took 10 steps back. I would also get so frustrated if I wasn’t seeing better results in my body in a certain amount of time. I hated that I had to weigh, measure, calculate and count calories, fats, protein and carbs every single day. I started to eat the same thing every day because it was easier to calculate. I know this is the life of a competitor but it’s not the life for me right now. I missed eating intuitively and that’s what I’ve decided to do again.

I’m going back to eating a variety of different foods that are well balanced and healthy. I’ve always been an advocate for eating “clean” which is eating food in its most natural state without additives or preservatives. I’ll eat when I’m hungry and eat in moderation. When I look back to when I used to do that I remember how happy I was. So that’s what I’m going to do. I plan to compete again and I’m shooting for April 2014. Until then, I’m going to research, save, study for my pt exam and classes, work, enjoy life, enjoy God, enjoy friends and family and be happy.

I want to thank so many of you who planned on coming to my competition and I hope I haven’t disappointed you with this news.Image

With love,

Jenna

Spicy Sweet Potato Soup with Chipotle + Coriander

Ok, this has to be the best soup I have ever had in my LIFE. No exaggeration here folks! This is a Spicy Sweet Potato Soup with Chipotle + Coriander. I grabbed this amazing recipe from Gwyneth Paltrow’s new recipe book called, It’s All Good. She has a ton of easy, delicious and healthy recipes. It’s a great buy!

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My friend and I have both come down with the common cold, so we thought some good ol’ soup would be a perfect and appropriate dinner. This soup is rich and creamy with a good southwestern kick to it. I can’t not share this recipe with you all!!

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Ingredients

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 large red onion, finely diced (about 1 1/2 cups)

2 garlic cloves – minced

5 springs of cilantro, leaves reserved for garnish

3/4 teaspoon cumin

Course sea salt

1 1/2 teaspoons chipotle in adobo (or more if you like)

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced (about 6 cups)

6 cups Vegetable Stock

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, cilantro sprigs, cumin, and a heavy pinch of salt and cook, stirring now and then, until softened but not browned, 10 minutes. Add the chipotle and the sweet potatoes and stir to combine. Add the vegetable stock to the pot and turn up the heat. Once the soup comes to a boil, lower the heat and simmer until the sweet potatoes are very soft, about 30 minutes. Remove and discard the cilantro. Carefully puree the soup in a powerful blender. If you want a really refined, smooth texture, you can pass the pureed soup through a fine-mesh strainer. Garnish each bowl with a few of the reserved cilantro leaves.

Personally, I don’t like cilantro so I didn’t add the leaves to my soup. I think a great alternative for the cilantro would be basil leaves. Happy Friday Everyone!!

It’s All Good, Gwyneth Paltrow and Julia Turshen

Paleo Chicken Salad on a Cauliflower Bun

It’s been about a month since I last posted a blog entry, and I do feel kind of bad about that. I thought it would be easy to keep a blog going, but unfortunately that is not the case. I find it much easier to post pictures and write a little caption, or quickly type out the recipe either on my Instagram account or my Facebook Page. I’m posting a blog this evening because I wanted to share an amazing recipe with you all and it would be way too lengthy to put on FB or IG.

SO! Let me not waist anymore time talking about ME. Tonight’s dinner was a paleo chicken salad on a paleo cauliflower bun, with paleo mayonnaise dressing.

*Side Note*

For those of you that are not familiar with the Paleo Diet, I found a great source to give a basic definition of it. http://www.livestrong.com/article/440069-definition-of-the-paleo-diet/

I grabbed the recipe for the cauliflower bun from this amazing blog http://liverightbehealthy.blogspot.com/. Cassi has so many unique, healthy recipes that I cannot wait to try! I was ecstatic when they came out just perfectly. On so many occasions, I have failed when it comes to making patties and pancakes and because this recipe called to make it a similar way, I got a little scared. You really can’t go wrong if you follow the directions ;).

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Paleo Cauliflower Bun

Serving size 1

Mix together

1 Cup grated raw cauliflower

1 tbsp almond flour

½ tbsp coconut flour

1 egg

½ tsp garlic powder

½ tbsp. rosemary (or oregano)

1/8 tsp salt

Shape into two circles onto a well oiled pan.

Cook at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove from pan and place on oven rack and broil for 5 minutes or until golden.

Place onto a cooling rack or it will get mushy.

Paleo Mayonnaise

This was incredibly easy to make. It’s not as thick as store bought mayonnaise but is more like a dressing.

2 egg yolks

1 tsp mustard

½ tsp minced garlic

3 tsp lemon juice

½ cup olive oil

salt & pepper

Add egg yolks, mustard, garlic, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to a food processor (I used my Magic Bullet). Begin to process and slowly add the olive oil until all is blended into a creamy consistancy.

Chicken Salad

2 tbsp olive oil

3 oz. finely sliced chicken

2 celery stalks – chopped

Mango – a couple slices

2 tbsp craisens

2 tbsp almond slices

In a large skillet, sauté all the ingredients for a couple minutes on low-medium heat. When finished, add the mayonnaise to the chicken salad and place on cauliflower bun.

What are some of your favorite paleo dishes?

Spring Break!!

So happy to report that my school week from hell is officially over and I’m on Spring Break! Unfortunately, I’ll be sticking around and not doing anything too exciting as I’ll still be working, but at least this gives me time to catch up on blogging and pleasure reading. This week I’ve decided to spend quite a bit of time researching on nutritional programs and schools. I am so excited to start that chapter in my life as a certified health coach.

Something that I have started to experience is criticism from others. Some people don’t understand why I have chosen this lifestyle, but what I wish is for the negative comments to cease. I don’t bash on people who I see eating a double cheeseburger from Burger King, so please don’t bash on me, or anyone, for choosing a healthier lifestyle.  I have come up with some reasons as to why people may be critical, but if there is any confusion about my eating/nutritional habits or if you have any other questions, please just ask me. I would love to explain first before you pass judgment.

On a lighter note ;) …I have found a new breakfast smoothie that I have been DYING to share with you all! I have to be honest and say that I’m always skeptical of my first taste of anything that I make. I come up with some pretty weird dishes/combinations sometimes. So after throwing all these ingredients together, I was kind of nervous of how this smoothie would taste. The first sip came and my 20 oz. smoothie was gone before I knew it! It’s by far my favorite concoction. I wish I could accurately tell you the amounts of each ingredient, but I just threw these ingredients into my 20 oz. cup and blended it. This means it might come out a tad bit differently the next time I make it.

Ingredients

Banana

Mango

Carrots

Mayan Blend (Cocoa, Pumpkin Seeds, Cashews, Quinoa, Oats)

Acai Powder

Whey Protein (Chocolate Peanut Butter)

Almond Milk

Water

Ice

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ImageThe taste and texture is what made this smoothie so great. It was very thick and I would have to chew a little bit because of the oats. I could also taste a lot of the chocolate flavor in it, which is another reason why it’s my favorite blend so far ;) .  I had a similar smoothie this morning but replaced the carrots with spinach and kale.  I wanted more vegetables in my drink and it still tasted just as good.

Fitness update: I have decided to drop the scale. I can’t base off what I read on the scale to determine where I should be at physically. Knowing me, I’ll probably get discouraged if I see my weight going up, but I know it’s due to the muscle build. On February 19th I calculated my body fat at the gym, and I’ll check it every month. I had 16.4% body fat last month, so I’m anxious to see what it will say in 8 days! I don’t have a goal percentage or weight. I’m just trying to keep as healthy as possible by eating right and working out regularly. I’ve been trying to post the work outs  I do on my Facebook Page (Healthy Indulgence) on the regular. If you’re interested in those updates go “LIKE” the page!

https://www.facebook.com/healthyindulgence13

I hope you all have a great week ahead of you. What will your workouts consist of this week? What are some of your favorite smoothie combinations?

Time To Catch Up

I feel like my life just got 10x crazier. It’s pretty routine but with the combination of school, work, working out, and always cooking, I feel like I hardly have any free time! What’s nice is that I have the next three days off from work, so I’m going to try to find some me time ;). On Sunday it’ll be 5 weeks since I’ve started eating clean and regularly working out. One thing that has completely surprised me in all of this is the fact that my taste buds are changing! Breakfast yesterday morning was whole grain rolled oats, almond milk, kiwi, and some blueberries (picture below), and I couldn’t even finish my kiwi. The natural sweetness of it was too much for my poor little taste buds to handle! Some would say that I’ve just become used to “bland” foods, but honestly, I’m loving the raw natural taste of most of my ingredients.

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This is my breakfast most mornings. Those are three different pictures from three different days. I love my oats! To mix it up, I throw different things on top like fruits, nuts, or seeds.

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I would like to briefly stress how important I think preparing food is. Before I started my new way of healthy eating, my coworkers and I would always order take out. Two downsides to that was that I was spending money like crazy and the foods I would order were definitely not the best for me health wise. Now, I’m preparing all of my food before work, which usually consists of both lunch and dinner. Does it take time? YES. Is it worth it? YES. I’m making healthier decisions and I know exactly what I’m putting in my body because I’m preparing it. As you can see, I don’t deprive myself of food. Eating clean allows me to eat a ton! Who doesn’t love that? My body is transforming before my eyes because of the healthier decisions I’ve made. It takes work, dedication, and commitment but it is so incredibly worth it. I love the way I feel inside and out more than ever. God is so good and I’m so thankful to Him for giving me this new passion.

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I’ve got two new gadgets! My product on the left is the Polar Ft40 Women’s Heart Rate Monitor Watch. It tracks how many calories I’ve burned during any work out, calculates calories burned in fat, tracks my heart rate and time. This thing is no joke. I ordered mine off of Amazon because that was the cheapest way to go. My fun toy on the right is my new juicer! I am so excited to experiment and create tons of healthy juices. I’ve made one drink so far made up of 1 whole container of spinach, 1 apple, and 1 scoop of Whey Protein Powder. It was out of this world. Many more to come! Keep an eye out for a fitness update soon. Very exciting progress!