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

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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