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

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?

Encouraged

Today I feel so encouraged. I have been getting such sweet messages from friends and even strangers (who follow me on Instagram) who keep track of my progress and feel inspired. It encourages me so much to keep doing what I’m doing, even though some days it can be difficult. I have an incredible God who gives me strength every single day, along with an amazing family, and friends who lift me up.

The picture above is my Quest Protein Bars that was just delivered to my house! I’m like a kid in a candy store right now. The two I’ve tried so far have been Vanilla Almond Crunch and Strawberry Cheesecake. They were so delicious! Can’t wait to try the rest and let you know what my absolute favorites are.

 

I just bought a Magic Bullet Blender over the weekend and I love it already. It’s great for making smoothies and processing foods. The picture above was a smoothie I made yesterday morning. Ingredients are; 1 handfull of spinach, 1 cup of coconut milk, ½ of a banana, palm full of blueberries, and 1 tbsp of chia seeds. I pulsed it through my Magic Bullet and it gave me a delicious green smoothie.

Today’s lunch was a loaded quinoa-veggie burger with an avocado, cottage cheese, and honey topping. I used my Magic Bullet to make this also. I was super nervous to make this because lately when I’ve tried to make pancakes or burgers they have turned out terribly. The consistency would always end up wrong and flipping it would ultimately destroy it. So you can see why I would be nervous to even attempt this, but luckily, it turned out PERFECTLY. 🙂

Ingredients

1 carrot

2 cloves garlic-minced

½ cup uncooked quinoa

15 ounces black beans

3 tbsp green onion

1 egg

¼ cup panko breadcrumbs

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

First blend the carrots in a blender. Then add the rest of the ingredients and pulse till it’s consistency is just a little chunky.

Form 4-5 patties and cook in a large skillet with extra virgin olive oil for 8 minutes on each side.

To make the topping, blend ½ cup of cottage cheese, ½ of an avocado, and 1 tsp of honey. Pulse until you get the consistency you desire.