Create: A Goal-pportunity

Hi friends! I hope everyone’s week is going well!

A bit of follow up on Pumbaa from last week, he is doing great! One trip to the ER followed by a visit to the regular vet (and $1100 later) we found out he had a UTI and an infection from dust particles. He’s been on antibiotics for the past week and is back to normal. Thank you for your prayers!

We are smack dab in the middle of our 4 week nutrition journey. How is it going so far?! Week one we looked at ways we can save money while eating healthy and week two we explored how to make healthy quick meals, for those of us on the go. Have you used any of the tips so far?

This week we were going to explore basic cooking tips and tricks which would make cooking more enjoyable for those who may dread having to cook. However, I have some big news that I couldn’t hold in for two more weeks so without further ado, I will now interrupt your regularly scheduled programming to bring you a special announcement and also, I will need your help!!

You might be asking yourself, what the heck is a ‘Goal-pportunity’? A goal-pportunity is a word I created which means a combination of a goal and an opportunity. We all set goals for ourselves and typically, each goal will open up new opportunities. For example, if your goal is to eat healthier, you open up opportunities for yourself to try new recipes that help you achieve that goal.

In the beginning of the year, I wrote down a lot of goals, aka 2016 New Year’s Resolutions, as did many of you. (Speaking of resolutions and goals, how are yours coming along?) A lot of my goals have changed, due to a variety of factors that this year presented to me. Through the whirlwind of things happening, I’ve managed to stay laser focused on fitness and wellness.

Over the past 10 months I’ve gotten more involved in the fitness scene in Chicago. I’ve checked out a variety of classes including Nike+, Shred 415, Aerial Fitness, Yoga and more. By taking these classes I’ve become stronger, faster, more flexible and  more confident. I found that working out is something I passionately enjoy and I am pretty good at it. Lifting heavy weights or running 8 miles gives me the reality check that even if not everything is going right, I am a strong woman who, thanks to Jesus, is healthy and able-bodied and who, through my experience, can inspire others towards making healthier choices in life.

In addition to the classes I attend, I started running more. I went to Nike Run Club for the first time about a month ago and I loved it. Running alone is great, but running with a large group of awesome people motivates me beyond belief. I decided that I liked running so much that I would sign up for the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle this past weekend. It was my first timed race and it was amazing. Running through the streets of Chicago with 25,000 other people, all fighting for the same thing (to finish 🙂 ) was an incredible feeling. I was so high on adrenaline that I finished the race in personal record time, 7:46 per mile.

Having completed this race, I have been thinking a lot about Girls on the Run (GOTR) which is a charity I volunteered with this past summer. This organization came to mind because they help girls have confidence in themselves, despite all of the negative influences that impact them each day. GOTR helps with confidence and self-esteem through a fitness training plan where the girls prepare to run a 5K. It is such an amazing concept.

Check out this short video about GOTR hereThe Finish Line is Just the Beginning

This year Girls on the Run-Chicago is on track to serve more than 11,000 girls, which is absolutely amazing! But my hope one day is that every girl will grow up possessing the confidence to do whatever she sets her mind to. You can learn even more about Girls on the Run here.

Since completing the Shamrock Shuffle, attending classes and run club and meeting an entire community of fitness-minded people, who are now some of my best friends, I’ve gained a confidence in myself that I CAN do anything I put my mind to. This is what GOTR helps 3rd – 8th grade girls discover at a much earlier age; confidence, community and the importance of health and fitness. It is truly powerful what this program is accomplishing!

With my 2016 resolutions in mind, my new-found confidence in my fitness abilities, my passion for health, fitness and helping others, I made a big decision and deemed it a ‘Goal-pportunity’.

My goal-pportunity is to run the 2016 Chicago Marathon on behalf of Girls on the Run! I officially signed up yesterday and am so excited about my decision. There are really two goals for this goal-pportunity and countless opportunities to come. One goal, I can complete on my own and with my team of runners. But, to complete the second goal, I will need your help!

Goal #1 To complete the marathon without walking.
Goal #2 To raise $1,000 for the Girls on the Run charity.
Endless opportunities will come from the $1,000 donation that we contribute to the GOTR foundation.

My Plan of Action to reach my goals is as follows: 
In order to reach my goal of running all 26.2 miles, I will train 4-5 days per week, running a variety of miles, all leading up to the 26.2. I plan to run with Nike Run Club and CARA, as well as on my own. I started my training this morning with a 7.5 mile run and it felt SO good!

In order to reach my goal of raising $1,000, I need your help!
I created a fundraising page where you can donate here:
https://www.crowdrise.com/gotrchicagomarathon2016/fundraiser/leahbates
Any and every amount will help me get closer to my goal! 

Approximately 85% of all girls request and receive financial assistance to participate in the program which is why all funds that I raise will go to underwrite program scholarships, ensuring that every girl can participate regardless of her family’s financial situation.

Every donation has a huge impact!

  • $10 will cover the cost of one girl’s healthy snacks for a season
  • $25: Covers the cost of 150 bananas for the 5k finish line
  • $44: Covers the cost of 50 tiaras for girls to decorate at the activities tent at the 5k
  • $157: Covers the cost for one girl to participate in GOTRC for one season
  • $260: Covers the cost of water bottles for 400 girls
  • $525: Covers the cost of all curriculum materials and supplies for 6 teams
  • $988: Covers the cost of finisher medals for 650 girls
  • $2,283: Covers the cost to implement the program at one new low-income site

The 26.2 mile marathon is Sunday October 9, 2016. We have until October 2 to turn in our donations. I encourage you, for all of the young women you know who could benefit from a program like this, please donate! Your donations can make such a difference in the lives of these young girls. With so many negative influences impacting young girls, let’s band together and help teach them their worth and the importance of confidence, community and health.

Thank you in advance for your support! Again, you can find my donation page by clicking here.

Next week, we will pick up where we left off on our nutrition journey with Part 3, learning cooking tips and tricks to make it more enjoyable. Also, I will continue to keep you updated on my training and donation progress. Until then, stay well my friends!

Until next time..

Create: A seafood recipe

Hi friends! I hope you all had a great weekend and the beginning half of the week is treating you well! This past weekend was a much slower weekend than I am used to having, and I loved it! We started our ‘slow’ weekend on Friday night by staying home and making dinner. I didn’t have a particular recipe in mind, but I had a lot of options to work with and I knew I wanted something healthy.

Do you ever have a boat load of left over ingredients that you don’t know what to do with? At that point are you the “I think I’ll just throw these out and start fresh.” or the “Let’s see what I can whip up with these!” type? Personally, I love making up new recipes, so that’s exactly what I did.

I don’t have a name for this recipe, but let’s just refer to is as the Shrimp & Vegetable Sautee. I started off roasting 1 sweet potato in the oven. Te kindly cut the sweet potato into wedges for me, then I added a bit of extra virgin olive oil, fresh cracked black pepper and salt, mixed it all around and spread it out on the pan. I cooked the wedges at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes.

While the sweet potatoes were roasting I put some coconut oil in a pan and sauteed brussel sprouts and edamame with fresh garlic & cracked black pepper. Simultaneously, I started cooking shrimp, topped it with Italian seasoning and lemon.

When everything was said and done, I mixed the sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts and edamame together and portioned in a bowl for each of us to eat. Then I added some Parmesan cheese & squeeze of lemon. I topped the veggies with the shrimp and a bit more Parmesan cheese (because, cheese is amazing) and that was dinner!

All in all, it took about 40 minutes (the sweet potatoes took the longest), it was healthy, and it paired great with the sparkling wine we had in the fridge 🙂

shrimp

Recipe for Shrimp & Vegetable Dinner

Since the wedding, my eating habits have been extremely questionable. I’ve been enjoying too many treats and just eating more than my body needs. My body has been craving the fruits and veggies I was once fueling it with. This recipe was a delicious way to stay on track as we started off the weekend!

Have you ever made a delicious meal on accident? What was it? I’d love for you to leave it in the comments below! Recipe sharing is the best 🙂

Check out the recipe here: (sorry, since this was ad hoc, I do not have exact measurements!)

INGREDIENTS (Makes 2-3 bowls):

  • 1 large sweet potato (cut in to wedges)
  • 1/2 bag of frozen brussel sprouts
  • 1/2 bag of frozen edamame
  • 1 full bag of frozen shrimp
  • extra virgin olive oil (approx 1-2 tsp)
  • coconut oil (approx 2 tsp)
  • Parmesan cheese (approx 1/4 cup)
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • Italian seasoning (approx 1-2 tsp)
  • salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees
  2. Cut your sweet potato into wedges, place on a baking sheet. Drizzle 1-2 tsp of extra virgin olive oil onto the sweet potato wedges, then sprinkle with fresh cracked black pepper and a dash of salt. Mix the ingredients around on the pan until each wedge is coated with EVOO, salt and pepper then spread the pieces out so they are not touching. Cook in the oven for 40 minutes. **At 20 minutes, shuffle the pieces around, they should be getting brown on one side so flip them or give the pan a good shake around **
  3. While the sweet potatoes are cooking, heat your coconut oil in a pan and add the frozen brussel sprouts and edamame. Add black pepper and let the veggies sautee for 5-10 minutes, while stirring every few minutes. Once done, cover and set aside.
  4. Heat up a small scoop (1/2 tsp) of coconut oil in a separate pan and add your frozen shrimp. Let them cook a few minutes without adding any seasoning. Drain the excess water/juice after a few moments.
  5. Put the shrimp back on the hot pan and add 1/2 tsp olive oil to the pan, sprinkle your Italian seasoning and squeeze 1/2 lemon onto the shrimp, continuously stirring the shrimp. Cover for 3-5 minutes. Once shrimp are done, cover and set aside.
  6. In a large bowl, mix your sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts and edamame together and squeeze 1/4 of the remaining half of your lemon onto the warm veggies. Portion them evenly into a bowl. Top with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.Layer the warm shrimp on top of the veggies and add more Parmesan cheese & your last 1/4 of lemon juice. (I also used the left over juices in the shrimp pan and poured them over the dish, giving it a little extra sauce)
  7. Enjoy a healthy meal with a glass of white wine and your best friend (or package up the rest for a quick lunch the next day!)

Until Next Time..

 

Create: A Meal Prep Plan

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a joyous new year’s celebration. I’m sure many of you made some sort of resolution for the coming year. Many of those resolutions probably include some sort of wellness improvement; workout more, eat healthier, meditate, etc.

How are you approaching the execution of your goals? Did you write down a plan? If not, you should! I’m a firm believer that writing things down makes it easier to own them and follow through on your plans.

A few people have asked me about meal prep recently and assuming some of your resolutions are to eat healthier, I thought I would share some of my meal prep answers, tips and recipes with you!

Meal prep questions:
Q1. Doesn’t it get boring eating the same thing every day?
A1. Not really. Usually for lunches I’ll have the same main dish, but I’ll bring different snacks each day to switch things up.

Q2. Isn’t it expensive?
A2. It doesn’t have to be! I shop at Aldi for the majority of my produce, brown rice and black beans, which saves a lot of money. Also, I plan what I’m having for lunches, then try to use any left over ingredients for dinners.

Q3. What about dinners? What do you make?
A3. I don’t make dinners ahead of time for the week (although I might start) but I do plan what I’m making when I go to the store and I keep that list of meals written in my phone. I try to make some sort of fish at least once per week, a chicken dish and a meatless meal. Sometimes turkey burgers or on occasion, red meat burgers.

Q4. How do you meal prep? How does it work?
A4. Meal prep day for me is Sunday. I usually spend about 2 hours in the kitchen preparing lunches and snacks for the week. I cook the lunches I’ve prepared, I portion out the food by splitting it equally and any recommended guidelines, and I bag up any snacks for the week (trail mix, carrots, etc). During the week, it’s as simple as putting a few snacks + the main dish in the lunchbox and we’re ready to go.

One of my favorite recipes to make is simple, healthy and inexpensive. Also, the ingredients typically make about 8-9 portioned out meals. It is simply brown rice, veggies and meat or tofu as an option.

(Meatless) Rice & Veggies
INGREDIENTS:
– 2 cups rice
– Zucchini (4 small/medium)
– 1-2 bell peppers
– ½ – 1 medium purple onion (or any onion you choose)
– Cayenne
– Cracked black pepper
– Turmeric
– Garlic (or garlic powder if I don’t have fresh garlic)
– Broccoli (optional)
– Tofu, Chicken, any other meat (optional)

DIRECTIONS:
– Cook 2 cups of rice – set aside
– Chop up your favorite veggies and stir fry them in coconut oil. I typically use 4 small/medium zucchini, 1-2 sliced bell peppers, ½-1 purple onion.
– On the veggies I sprinkle cayenne, cracked black pepper, turmeric and garlic (powder)

I don’t have spice measurements because I just do it by look. I can tell you I sprinkle a good amount of cayenne for a good kick and crack a ton of black pepper and just a little bit of turmeric (it stains everything yellow so beware…)

– Sometimes I also cook broccoli which I steam. Since I don’t have a steamer I boil a huge pot of water and put my fresh, chopped broccoli in the boiling water for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes I strain the broccoli and then dump it into a large pot of cold water with ice cubes so it stops cooking.

– Add tofu, chicken (I cook 4-5 tenderloins) or go without meat/tofu completely and just add more veggies!

PORTION:
I portion ½ cup of rice into each lunch container (I usually get about 8) and then I’ll divvy out the veggies, starting one scoop at a time to each container, so that they are about even. Any extras I just portion out evenly, same with any meat/tofu.

I typically spend about 2 hours in the kitchen prepping lunches and snacks which sets us up for the entire week. That way, I can come home from work during the week and pack a lunch in under a minute! 🙂

If you have any further questions, I’d love to chat! Leave me a note in the comments.

It might sound scary and cumbersome at first, but it really isn’t too bad. Especially if you want to free up some time during your weeknights!

Follow me @leahbeutler on instagram for additional recipes and recipe inspirations, as well as some kick ass workout motivation 😉

Until next time..

Create: Healthy Quick(ish) Meals

Is it just this time of year or are my weeks legitimately getting busier constantly? I am not sure. What I do know is that no matter how much time I have, I always make time to cook a healthy, nutritious meal that will fill me up and refuel my body properly.

I want to share 3 recipes all of which are nutritious, filling and quick! The first recipe takes the longest, about 45 minutes, and would be great for lunch or dinner. The second takes about 5 minutes to make with about 5 minutes of prep time and would be a delicious option for breakfast or dinner… or lunch! Lastly, we’ll make a yummy snack or dessert in just 2 minutes!

Before we get started, I must mention that all of these recipes I came up with on my own due to wanting a quick and healthy meal, satisfying a craving with a healthier option or pure creativity with the random ingredients I had left before my next trip to the grocery store. So please, use these as a motivator to not be afraid to get crafty in the kitchen, amazing (tasty) things can happen!

Recipe #1: Sweet Potato with Goat Cheese & Sauteed Veggies
Ingredients
– 1 or 2 Sweet Potato(s)
– Coconut Oil
– 1 Bell Pepper (any color)
– Mushrooms (any kind)
– Goat Cheese
– Cayenne (optional)
– Cracked Black Pepper (optional)

Directions
1. 
Turn on your oven to 400 degrees. While the oven is preheating, rinse your sweet potato(s). Poke holes in the potato(s) and wrap in tin foil. Place wrapped potato(s) on a baking sheet and place in the oven. Bake for 40 minutes, or until tender.
2. Slice your bell pepper into long strips and your mushrooms into slices for sauteeing.
3. Heat coconut oil in your fry pan. Once hot, add bell pepper. Sautee for about 5 minutes then add your mushrooms. Sprinkle in Cayenne and Cracked Black Pepper. Once veggies are soft and charred, remove from heat, cover and set aside.
4. Once your sweet potato(s) are tender, pull the pan out of the oven and open tin foil. Spread Goat Cheese across each potato and return to oven, uncovered, for 3-5 minutes, until the cheese becomes warm.
5. Remove potato(s) from oven, top with sauteed veggies and enjoy your delicious, healthy meal!

Potatoe.jpg

A Few Health Benefits: Sweet Potatoes are high in Vitamins A, C and B6, as well as Vitamin D, which all of us in the Midwest can always use more of to help regulate our energy levels, moods and build strong bones. They’re also a great source of magnesium which is the relaxation and anti-stress mineral. Lastly, their sweet tasting but their natural sugars are slowly released into the bloodstream to ensure balanced energy without blood sugar spikes that lead to weight gain and fatigue. Read more about sweet potato benefits here.

Recipe #2: Egg Tacos  (A personal favorite)
Ingredients
– 2 to 4 eggs (Think about 1 egg per taco)
– Coconut Oil
– Cayenne (optional)
– Turmeric (optional)
– Cracked Black Pepper (optional)
– Tortillas
– Pepperjack Cheese
– 1/2 Bell Pepper
– 2 to 4 slices of Avocado
– Salsa and/or Hot Sauce (optional)

Directions
1.
 Heat coconut oil in a fry pan. Crack eggs into the pan and let them begin to cook while adding a few shakes of cayenne, turmeric and cracked black pepper. Scramble eggs up in the pan and let cook.
2. Shred pepper jack cheese (or cheese of choice) and add a few pinches of cheese to hot eggs. Mix around until cheese is completely melted.
3. Slice Bell Pepper into thin strips, about 3 per taco. Slice small strips of Avocado (or cut into small chunks), 1 slice or 3-4 chunks per taco.
4. Warm up tortillas. I have a gas stove so naturally, I throw them on the open flame burner to get the delicious char marks. A microwave will work to heat them up if you have a fancy electric stove 🙂
5. Lay warm tortillas on the plate. Add egg and cheese mixture, bell pepper and avocado slices and top with salsa and/or hot sauce of your choice. Enjoy!

taco.jpgAll in all, this meal takes about 10 minutes and it’s filling, nutritious and is a great option for any meal of the day!

A Few Health Benefits: Eggs are an excellent source of protein and the Avocado will provide your body with (heart) healthy fats. Turmeric is a yellow spice that is extremely beneficial for your health. It is essentially tasteless so it’s great to mix with eggs because the color blends right in and you’re getting healthier with each bite! Turmeric contains strong anti-inflammatory compounds, which can help defend us from disease, it also can help prevent Cancer (due to its ability to reduce the growth of cancer cells), Alzheimer Disease, Heart Disease and Depression. Ready more about this powerhouse spice here.

Who’s ready for dessert (or a quick snack)?

Recipe #3: PB Ezekiel Bread
Ingredients
– 1 Slice Ezekiel Bread
– 2 tbsp JIF Natural Super Chunk Peanut Butter (or any nut-butter you prefer)
– Cinnamon
– Honey (optional)

Directions
* Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat, if you’re not eating chunky peanut butter, you’re doing it wrong. 🙂
1. Toast your Ezekiel bread
2. Spread Peanut Butter across top of bread
3. Sprinkle with cinnamon and honey (if desired)
4. Enjoy!

pb bread.jpg

A Few Health Benefits: Ezekiel Bread is sprouted bread which contains no added sugar, compared to most other breads which do. Also, it contains more protein than other breads and is very filling. Read more about Ezekiel Bread here. Cinnamon is another power spice I like to use a lot! Cinnamon is loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. It can fight the risk of heart disease, bacterial and fungal infections and even cancer. And, it’s sweet and tasty!

I hope you enjoy these recipes. They definitely get me through the busiest of weeks on a healthy note! Let me know some of your favorite healthy meals in the comments below!

Until Next Time..

 

 

Create: Zucchini Everything

My life has been forever changed. How, you ask?

Zucchini.

Yes, I’m serious.

Te and I are planning a meatless week since Thanksgiving is coming up and we plan on overloading on Turkey. Thinking about meals all week long which don’t include meat was a bit of a difficult task. For lunches, I decided I would make a medley of sauteed vegetables, tofu and brown rice. Typically, I’m all about the sauteed bell peppers and onions. This week, I decided to try zucchini.

Best. Decision. Ever.

To make this tasty lunch (or dinner) meal, you only need a few ingredients and they all go a very long way! I ended up with 7 homemade, healthy lunches for the week! Since I just made up this recipe, there isn’t a fancy name yet so let’s call it Tofu Zucchini Medley.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups Brown Rice
  • 4 cups water
    ~~~~~~~~~~
  • 1 Package Extra Firm Tofu
  • 2 tbsp low sodium Soy Sauce
  • 2 tbsp Sesame Oil
  • 4-5 Paper towel sheets
    ~~~~~~~~~
  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 4 small Zucchinis
  • Two hand-fulls of Cherry Tomatoes
  • 1 Bell Pepper (I used yellow)
  • Lots of fresh cracked black pepper (6-10 cranks)
  • A few dashes of Cayenne
  • Guacamole (optional)

First things first, cook your rice. I never, ever let the water boil before adding the rice. I also never pre-heat the oven for my pizza, but that’s another blog post. So throw in your 2 cups of rice and 4 cups of water, let it all come to a boil (uncovered). Once it’s boiling turn it as low as it goes, cover and let simmer for about 40-45 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare your tofu. You can read my Tofu Pad Thai blog to get proper Tofu cooking instructions.

Once the Tofu is prepared, remove from heat and set off to the side. Check on your rice, it’s probably not done quite yet, but it’s getting there. While it’s finishing up, start getting your ingredients together for the vegetable medley.

Start by mincing your garlic. Once it’s all cut up, you’ll want to get your zucchini ready.

Wash your zucchini and cut off each end. I sliced them in half the long way (hot-dog style, for all of you 90’s kids) and then each half I sliced the long way again. I cut each long half into several chunks (the hamburger way). This will give you 12-16 pieces for each zucchini half.

Side note: of COURSE I tried one raw. When it tasted good as a raw veggie, I knew it would only get better from there!

Lastly, wash your bell pepper and tomatoes then cut those up however your heart desires. I cut my tomatoes in half once and my bell pepper into long slices then chopped into smaller pieces, just like the zucchini.Your rice is probably done now, I always check by fluffing it around. Once done, remove from heat and set aside.

Once your veggie medley is ready to go, warm your coconut oil in a pan and add your garlic. Sautee for about one minute. Add your zucchini and mix with garlic. Let the zucchini sautee with the garlic for about 3 minutes.  Next, add your bell pepper pieces and mix together. Let this mix sautee for about 5 minutes. Finally, you’ll add your tomatoes, pepper and cayenne. Make sure to mix everything up so each piece is evenly coated. Sautee for about 4 minutes then remove from heat and voila!

cook zuc

Combine 1/2 cup of rice, several (6-8) pieces of tofu (depending on how you cut them), and a scoop or two of your veggies into your favorite meal prep containers. You can top with a scoop of guacamole or a large slice of avocado for healthy fats and added deliciousness! 🙂 Again, I was able to make about 7 lunches and I actually had a bit of rice left over.

I am so happy I decided to buy zucchini today. I never knew the flavor I was missing. Not to mention the amazing health benefits from zucchini, check some of them out here.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did and I hope it helps make your healthy, weekly meal prep easy and enjoyable.

I plan to incorporate zucchini into my recipes a LOT more now! It’s so yummy and helped me make SO much food on a budget! Let me know some of your favorite recipes which contain zucchini in the comments below!

Until Next Time..

Create: Goals

What types of goals do you have? Do you have a variety of long-term and short-term goals? What are you doing to achieve your goals? What is stopping you from achieving those goals?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my personal goals. As I continue on my career exploration journey, I find new passions and interests that I enjoy and thus, I create new goals for myself. I’ve already accomplished a few of my short-term goals and with each achievement comes a new level of confidence in myself.

Before we get too into it, let’s define ‘short’ and ‘long’ term, shall we? When I think short-term, I’m primarily talking about 3-9 months. Long term goals are anything about 1 year or more in the future. (FYI Super long term is about 5 years out, but that’s for another post someday!)

So, let’s get started!

Recently, I’ve reignited my passion for social media and digital marketing. I am mainly engaged on Instagram and Twitter. I continuously engage with other users on each platform to increase awareness of my page, learn marketing tips from their page and cultivate an influential community online.

batman

Instagram Post. {Follow me @leahbeutler – click to see more!}


Short Term Goal #1: To become Social Media Marketing Certified through Hootsuite. To accomplish this goal, I have been listening to the Hootsuite guide for social media marketers each morning while on the train to work. They review tips and strategies for popular platforms including Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and Youtube. I have about three lessons left and once they are complete, I can take the exam. I hope to complete the lessons and pass the exam by December 1, 2015.

Short Term Goal #2: To become an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer. “Wait, what? Where did this come from?” is what you might be thinking. Although it seems a bit left field, it’s really not. I’ve always been interested in health, wellness and fitness. I’ve also always enjoyed roles in which I can teach and help others. To become a CPT will allow me to combine my creativity, interest in health and passion for helping others by creating customized workouts that help people become a better version of themselves. I just received my books in the mail and I plan to begin studying this week. I plan to pass this exam by March 1, 2016.

burpee

Pushing myself so I can learn to push others. Who doesn’t love burpees?

Once I complete the CPT exam, I will be eligible to begin completing my third goal which is my first “long term” goal.

Long Term Goal #1: Become a Certified Nutritionist. I’ve always been interested in health and nutrition so I want to explore how nutrition supplements and stresses our bodies. I want to use this knowledge combined with my marketing knowledge to promote healthy lifestyles to others. Why not become a certified nutritionist off the bat and skip the CPT exam, you ask? In order to become a  ‘verified’ certified nutritionist, you must hold a personal training license OR have a degree in nutrition/science/Kinesiology. Since I do not have a degree or a base knowledge of the body, I think becoming a CPT first is a great (and less expensive) alternative. If I do really enjoy it, then we can talk Master’s Degree. I’m not sure how to properly plan for the timing of this goal since its dependent upon my CPT completion. I am going to shoot for passing the nutrition certification exam by August 2016.

food veg

Instagram Post {eat real food}

Those three goals will keep me pretty busy over the next few months. There’s one more goal I have in mind that will continue to push me to new limits over the next year and I am so excited to share it with you all! The big one! 🙂

Long Term Goal #2: Complete the Chicago Marathon (My First Marathon). 26.2 miles will be behind me after I finish this marathon. It was only a few months ago when I despised running outside. ‘I can’t’, ‘I hate it’, and ‘It’s the worst’ were typical phrases I used to describe running outside. I just never got into it. Over the summer when I didn’t have a gym membership  I wanted to stay active, so what did I do? Forced myself to run outside. Guess what? I fell in love. I think it’s the combination of running outside and my involvement with Nike Training Club (NTC) that fueled this passion inside of me to become faster and stronger. Recently, I ran outside for 8 miles straight without stopping. It was the first time I ran that amount of miles at once and although it was challenging, it felt SO freaking good. I figure with an entire year in front of me to train, I’ll be pretty much unstoppable come October 2016. As I train, I plan to run with Nike Run Club as well as challenge myself to run on my own and continue with a variety of workout classes. Please pray for no injuries! 🙂

run

Instagram Post. {Run}

Yikes. Now that I wrote all of that down, I am accountable for it. That’s kind of scary, right? 🙂

Do you write down your goals? Do you find them easier to achieve once they are written down? What about sharing them on social media to have your community help encourage you to accomplish your goals? What’s your goal-accomplishing secret? What keeps you motivated when the busy-ness of life gets in the way? What is the excuse you use to trick yourself into thinking you can’t?

No matter how busy you are, keep on setting goals. You’ll continuously better yourself by challenging yourself to try new things. Don’t get discouraged if some of the timelines you set need a bit of adjusting; that is ok! Adjust, refocus and move forward. You can do it. And each bit of progress, you are #BetterForIt.

Let me know your goals in the comments below. We can help hold one another accountable and encourage each other through the inevitable hard times. We can also help celebrate each other’s victories  along the way!

Until Next Time..

Create: Tofu Pad Thai

Since moving to Chicago, I’ve become obsessed with Tofu Pad Thai. I had never before tried Thai food, nor had I tried tofu. The two together is an epic combination. Although I love ordering take-out from O’part and Yes Thai, I thought, why not try to recreate a Pad Thai recipe and throw in some tofu on my own? After scouring the web, I found a recipe that seemed to be just what I was looking for. Check out Epicurious for more recipe and cooking ideas.

Back to the Pad Thai, I highly recommend you try this recipe. It’s absolutely delicious and not too bad for you either! Below is the list of ingredients that I used, it varies slightly from the recipe on Epicurious.

Enjoy!

001

Ingredients Needed

Yield: 4 Servings

PAD THAI INGREDIENTS

  • 1 Package Extra Firm Tofu
  • 8 ounces Thai rice noodles
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from about 1 medium lime)
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped, unsalted peanuts
  • Sriracha (optional)

TOFU INGREDIENT

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 4-5 Paper Towel Sheets

DIRECTIONS:

Tofu:

Cut your Pad Thai into rectangles or squares of about the same size. Place them ontop of a paper towel lined cookie sheet or baking pan. Place more paper towel over the top of the tofu and apply pressure from a plate or bowl on top so the tofu loses as much water as possible. Cover the tofu with soy sauce while in the pan and let marinate for a few minutes.

In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Place the tofu cubes into the pan and let sizzle for 2-3 minutes. Flip tofu cubes to the opposite side and let sizzle another 2-3 minutes, or until the two sides become golden and crispy. Remove from heat and set aside.

Pad Thai:

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil for noodles. Remove water from heat. Place noodles in the boiling water. Let soak for 7-10 minutes. Drain noodles and set to side. *Please note, follow the directions on the box or bag of noodles you purchase – these were the directions on the Rice Noodles I purchased and they turned out great!*

In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until tender.

Whisk the eggs lightly with a fork. Pour them into the skillet and cook just until they solidify, but are still moist, moving the eggs around the skillet slightly as they cook so that they lightly scramble. When the eggs are cooked, remove the skillet from the heat and set aside.

In a small bowl, stir together the soy sauce, lime juice, sugar, fish sauce, and red pepper flakes. Pour the sauce into the skillet with the scrambled eggs. Add the noodles and toss to coat in the sauce.

Sprinkle the green onions, Tofu and peanuts over the noodles. Toss lightly to combine. Serve warm with lime wedge. Top with Sriracha (optional).

Tofu

The Masterpiece.

This is a perfect weeknight meal! It’s quick, easy, healthy AND you’ll have leftovers for lunch! I will definitely be making this one again.

Let me know if you try it out! I’d love to hear your success stories and/or any tweaks you made to the recipe to make it your own.

Until next time..