ETC: Week 40

Hello friends!

I hope all is well! This past week, we made it to 40 weeks! It’s very bittersweet because I am very happy baby girl is fully cooked, but I’m also very anxious to meet her already!

We had a rather busy week and even had some visitors, but still, no baby!

Our 40-week weekend was beautiful; warm and filled with sunshine! Saturday we ran our weekly errands and Sunday we didn’t move until about 1pm. After relaxing all morning, we decided to go on a long walk. We walked down to the lakefront path and took a stroll through Andersonville on the way home. It was nice to reminisce along my old running path. Once Naomi is here and old enough to be in the jogging stroller, she will quickly become well acquainted with that path as well!

I worked from home this week which was extremely stress relieving. Not having to commute on crowded public transportation or worry about my escape route from downtown to up north if labor were to start was a blessing. Also, not having to try and fit in to office maternity clothes was pretty nice. At this point, a few maternity items still fit because they are stretchy, but are they by no means comfortable.

My mom and sister also came to visit this week. Unfortunately for them, when they booked the trip, they had planned to spend time with the baby since it was technically 2 days passed my due date that they would arrive. Joke was on all of us because, Naomi never made her grand entrance into the world.

It was nice to see them both one last time without a baby though. We went to Homeslice pizza one night and Xoco another night. Two places we wouldn’t have been able to check out with a newborn. We also stopped and walked around Oz park. Did you know, the statues can talk to you?!?! You enter a website on your phone then Dorothy or Tin Man will call you and talk to you for a minute or two. It’s a neat idea and I can’t wait to take Naomi to see them, once she’s old enough to understand the hype.

My mom and sister left at the end of the week but booked another stay the first weekend in May. They will be guaranteed to meet Naomi this next time around!

It was also our precious Pumbaa’s birthday this week! He is 7 and I cannot believe where the time went. I adopted Pumbaa when I moved to Whitewater for college and since then, he’s become such an important part of our family. I hope he loves Naomi as much as he loves us. It may take some getting used to, but he’s a cuddly lover so I have faith in him.

We made it the entire week, everyday asking ourselves ‘is today the day?’ We’ve tried nearly every home remedy people suggest and have answered the “where is she” or “how are you feeling” question at least 55 million times (little to no exaggeration on that estimated number). I’m fully convinced that all of these “at home labor inducing tricks” only work if baby is ready and Naomi is just not ready yet.

It’s definitely bittersweet going past your due date. Yes, I am so happy she’s fully developed in my belly, but we are anxiously awaiting her arrival. There’s a sense of frustration that kicks in when you wake up in the morning and realize it’s time to get up for work but you haven’t had any contractions and today may not be the day. However, it’s a blessing to continue feeling her movements. Soon, she will only be able to kick me from the outside 🙂

Currently, I am 41 weeks and 2 days pregnant. Our next update WILL have a baby update because I will be induced at the end of the week if she doesn’t come out on her own. I personally think she just wanted to wait for the month of May because Te’s birthday is also in May; so we have a serious daddy’s girl on our hands! 🙂

We cannot wait to meet our little bundle and I cannot wait to be done with pregnancy! We’ve got quite an exciting week ahead – Stay tuned!!

Until next time..

ETC: Week 39

Hi friends!

I hope your weeks are going well! We’ve had a great week so far as we continue to await the arrival of our little princess.

Our favorite part of the city 🤗

During our 39th week we didn’t have much going on, and it was amazing! The weekend weather was absolutely beautiful so we went on several super long walks. Walking is supposed to help induce labor, but I’m not sure it works for those of us who ran (marathons) during our entire pregnancy. Usually, the walks are just a way to stay sane and get out of the house. Also, it’s a fun way to explore the city as just Te & Leah, before we have a minion tagging along with us 🙂

We walked down to Lincoln Square in search of some raspberry leaf tea. The tea is supposed to help with labor (shorten it and make it less painful) we found it so, we’ll see if that’s true! We stopped in several little shops and had a really wonderful day! 

The rest of the week was pretty uneventful, and that was amazing. All week, I was wondering “is today going to be the day?”, “will I go in to active labor on the rush hour train home?”, “when will this baby come out?”. All week, she stayed in her cozy apartment, aka my belly. 

Thursday, we went to eat and it ended in quite a scare. I ended up having a full blown panic attack due to a strange feeling I got in my lips after eating. It was very scary but after I spoke with the midwives and Te helped talk me down, I was able to relax and get some rest. It was definitely a wake up call that even though I’m pretty relaxed about the transition ahead, there’s a lot going ‘behind the scenes’ and even a small uncertainty can trigger a big reaction. Thankfully, I have a great teammate in my corner to help me work through it all. ❤

Friday, after work, Te pointed out that it was the last time we’d be driving home together (I’ll be working from home until maternity leave starts). It was a tough realization because not just our after work routines, but literally, our whole lives are going to change. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very excited to start the “family” chapter, but it’s kind of sad knowing that the “Te and Leah only” chapter is coming to a close. It also made me sad realizing all of the times I would get sassy towards Te on the way home for no big reason. So, I cried. 🙂 haha 

After pulling it together, we decided to go out to dinner again because there are only so many more days of just us, plus I wanted to end our twosome date nights on a good note instead of the panic attack feelings of the night before. We went to a delicious burger place in the city and afterwards, we got deep dish cookies. Seriously. They were amazing! It was such a wonderful night and I have never felt so in love with my husband, who very soon, I will have to share with another little lady. 

Even though Te and I will have completely new schedules and routines and worries and frustrations, I am so confident in our partnership that I’m not worried about figuring it out. He’s such a wonderful partner in every way and I couldn’t be more excited to start this journey with him!

I am getting so excited to meet this little girl! I hope she comes soon! This Saturday, we hit 40 weeks and still no baby. Stay tuned for next week’s update. Hopefully we have a bumpdate + a baby update from our 40th week!

Until next time..

ETC: It’s the Final Countdown

Hello friends! I hope you’ve had a great couple of weeks!

Since my last bump update, we have come quite a long way! From a scare of gestational diabetes to entering my third trimester which I’m calling,”the final countdown”. We were planning for a quiet month but we ended up doing a lot and it was great! Take a ride down memory lane with me as I look back on month 6 and look ahead towards month 7 and my final trimester of pregnancy!


Ahhh, the CTA. We had to take a picture on our trusty transportation system. 🙂 Yes, the one where you get asked for money by the needy, stand packed like a sardine on the way home from a long day at work (standing like that 7 months pregnant is super fun…), see people throw up on themselves/the floors of the train, and even get to sit in cars that smell of cigarettes, urine and feces. Who doesn’t love public transportation?!?! 🙂 In all seriousness though, I’m thankful for the CTA because despite the ridiculous things that may happen, it’s a safe way to get from point A to point B without having to pay for gas or sit in rush hour traffic.

Week 25 we celebrated the birthday of a friend’s one year old! It was such a fun party and made me realize that we are in for lots of fun birthday celebrations to come! Mama was feeling a bit cranky this week, and day in particular (sorry papa!) but the party was a fun way to forget about the stress and spend time with close friends. 

We also had brunch with my sissie and her new man at an awesome cereal bar in the city. It was amazing being able to catch up with her and enjoy a delicious breakfast! 


[I would just like to point out that it’s mid-January in this photo and although chilly, I’m capable of taking a photo outside without a coat – THANK YOU Chicago]. Week 26 started off with a baby registry event at Babies R Us. It was great! Lucky for us, we were the only people who showed up so we “won” a pack of pampers! Woot woot for free diapers 🙂 After the event, we went out with some friends for brunch at Orange in Roscoe Village and it was delicious. It was great to catch up with people we haven’t seen in forever! Papa also had his first paid photography gig after brunch and it went so well! Naomi and I are so proud of you babe!! ❤

During this week I had a couple of different lunch dates with some of my favorite ladies! It’s so fun getting together and hearing about what’s going on in everyone’s lives. I’m so proud of my ambitious friends!! 

Also this week, I found out a close friend of mine from work was leaving so that she could stay home with her daughter. It was so bittersweet because, although I am happy for her, selfishly, I want to keep her at work so we can still hang out! Now our work lunch dates will just transition in to play dates for our girls, so I guess it’s not so bad! 🙂

Lastly, I found out I failed my initial gestational diabetes test this week. It was really hard on me because I felt like my body was failing. I eat pretty clean still and I am still exercising 3-5 days per week. ‘How could this happen’, I thought? After the initial shock and terribly sad feelings, I learned that sometimes it just happens. No matter how healthy you are, sometimes the condition pops up strictly due to hormones and how your body is reacting to them, not necessarily because of what you’re eating or how active you are. That made me feel better. But I was SO scared to take the long gestational diabetes test because I absolutely H A T E getting my blood drawn…

..This is the look of a 27 week pregnant woman who HATES getting her blood drawn. This same woman who failed her first gestational diabetes test so she had to wake up at 6:30 AM on a Saturday to get her blood drawn FOUR different times; once in an already bruised arm/vein and three times in the other arm, over a three hour span of time. Thanks to God, I have an incredibly supportive and caring husband who sat with me in the hospital from 7 am until nearly 11 am waiting for me to get the blood draws. Thanks again to God for protecting me and Naomi from the condition they were testing for which was gestational diabetes [We passed!]. Despite the morning being one of my least favorite, once the test was over we went outside and it was nearly 50+ degrees! It was absolutely beautiful and it helped bring up my spirits a bit. I mean, can you deny the amazingness of a warm, sunny day in January in Chicago?! 

We also went to a friend’s house this week to watch the Packer game. It was great to see some old friends and catch up, but the Packers played awful and lost, which was very sad. 😦 There’s always next year, I guess! 


At 28 weeks, Naomi went to her first Bulls game. Although they also lost, it was a great time! [And no, Naomi is not bad luck for sports, if that’s what you’re thinking. Proof: the Cubs won the World Series after 100+ years of losing. It’s not her fault the Packers didn’t want to meet Trump and the Bulls couldn’t pull it together! 😉 ]

Also this past week, Te and I cat sat our second favorite kitty ever, Myko. It was so great to see him because last time we watched him he was SO tiny and now he looks like a big lion. This got me thinking about how I cannot wait for Naomi to meet Pumbaa… and well, #AllTheCats really. I will be converting her to a cat lady immediately. 🙂 

One last thing we did this week was go out to celebrate a friend’s birthday. After seeing her, Te and I went to dinner. We wanted to try this new burger place nearby but when we got there, it was filled with kids. We were contemplating leaving because we wanted an adult date night. I was frantically searching for a new place nearby that we could go even as the hostess was walking us to our table. The hostess laid down our menus at our table and before walking away said “your server, Naomi, will be right with you.” So inevitably we took that as a sign we should stay 🙂 I am glad we did; the burgers were great and the s’mores sundae was even better!

As I look back, month 6 was filled with many ups and downs. All in all, it was a great month with lots of love from friends and family and a few date nights sprinkled in!

As I look ahead to month 7, we’ve got a lot coming up! 

This coming weekend, we have our first baby shower in Wisconsin. I am so excited to see family and close friends who I have not seen in so long!! It’s going to be a great day to celebrate this little lady! 

February 21st is Te and I’s one year wedding anniversary which I am SO excited to celebrate!! This past year went so quickly and was filled with so many wonderful memories. I’m excited for forever with my beau.

At the end of the month we have another shower planned in Chicago and it’s at THEE best ice cream shop in the city. I’m pretty excited I passed my diabetes test so I can indulge a bit 🙂

So, we still have 12 weeks to go!  It’s not the final, final countdown BUT we’re getting close. We are now officially in the third trimester; the final trimester (aka so close). I’m getting more and more excited to meet this little girl every day but for now, I’m ok with waiting roughly 12 more weeks. 

Until next time..

Explore: 30 days with no added sugar

Hi friends! I hope all has been excellent with you all! The busy summer has taken over but I’ve had a bit of a revelation over the past week and I wanted to share my thoughts and observations with you!

We’ve got a lot to catch up on, but I’ll keep it brief. If you are following me on Instagram (@MrsLeahBates), I’m sure you’re already in the know. First things first, the marathon is in 62 days (WUT!). I’m up to 16 miles as my longest run so far and I’m feeling great. Secondly, I reached my fundraising goal of $1,000 for Girls on the Run!! Along with all of the generous donations from friends, I planned and organized a fundraiser, Shred To Inspire. It was a huge hit with 20 people signed up and $500 raised!

All of my training has forced me to really examine my nutrition. I indulged a bit too much in July and used the excuse ‘well, I ran a lot today so  large ice cream and a beer is ok.’ Don’t get me wrong, it IS ok. It’s not so much the calorie intake I was worried about, it’s more so the way that I felt and the way that I trained due to my diet. For this reason, hubby and I decided to cut out added sugar from our diet for the month of August.

Before starting, I knew things like ice cream and cookies were going to be cut out. However, I didn’t realize ketchup, mayo, bread, some deli meats and bacon.. literally almost everything, has added sugar. It’s scary and eye-opening to realize all of the places we can find added sugar without necessarily indulging in anything sweet. During this process I do still plan to drink protein shakes a couple of days per week. My protein powder has <1g of sugar so technically, I guess you could say, I’m on a very low, no-sugar added diet. But throughout the month, that along with the occasional piece of gum will be my only added sugar intake.

You might be thinking, ‘So, what are you eating then?’ Well, pretty much nothing that is prepackaged. No ketchup or mayo or dressing from a bottle, everything is homemade using whole30 and no sugar added recipes. It does takes a little bit of extra time to meal prep on Sunday’s now, but once I’m done, we have breakfast, lunch, snacks and sauces ready to go for the week. Then, once I get home I just make dinner with all of my precut veggies or warm up my roasted veggies and that’s it!

You’re probably asking yourself, “but is all of the extra meal prep time worth it”? So far, yes!! The first 2-3 days, I felt extremely tired. My body was probably on a super detox because we had just topped off our last sugary day with a largeeee ice cream, beer, nachos, a burger and #alltheranch. Other than that, throughout the week, I felt pretty normal and didn’t have too many sweet cravings (probably because of all of the fruit we’ve been eating).

I did have an awesome ‘aha’ moment this passed weekend on my long run. When I started no added sugar, I was thinking I’d make and exception for Gatorade and Gu or blocks during my long runs. Then I realized I could try dates, a naturally occurring form of instant sugar and carbs. I brought 2 dates with me for my run + 1/2 of a lara bar (I ate the other half of the lara bar before I left the house). At mile 5, I was about 45 minutes into my run and could tell I was starting to wear down. I ate my first date and instantly felt better. I didn’t get achy in my knees or have to rush to the bathroom at mile 6 or 7 either. Once I hit mile 9.5, it was time for the second date. I thought for sure I’d have to make a stop soon, but no, I felt great. Around mile 12 I ate one half of the piece of lara bar I brought with me and then I rounded out mile 14 with the other half. I got home and felt incredible. 16 miles was my longest run yet and it’s a record breaker because I didn’t stop once for any sort of break except very short water breaks.

However, I will have to see how the next couple of weeks go, as this will now be my new plan for marathon training. I will say that I think eating complex carbs, protein and fat without any added sugar really helped regulate my system throughout the week. By sticking to a no-added sugar diet on my run and finding natural ways to stay fueled, it helped with my success.

I’m so excited to continue this journey and will keep you updated on the outcome of my next long run.

Have you ever done a no added sugar diet? Any tips? Did you notice anything difference in your training or just day to day life? Leave it in the comments!

Until next time..

set goals then demolish them nike quotes

Explore: Your Thoughts,…YES, You Can

Hi Friends! I hope you’re having a great week so far! It’s been a while!! Life happens, doesn’t it? 🙂

I’ve decided to post on my blog when it’s convenient. That might be once per week or once every couple of months. I know what you’re thinking…

Backstreet Boys Quit Playin Games With My Heart

‘Leah, quit playin’ games with our hearts’

because I change my mind on the frequency of my posts quite… frequently 🙂 . But I realize that I’m not 100% committed to my posts at this point so in order to not get your hopes up, I won’t promise any more regular posts.

Today though, is a very special day, one of my new favorite days in fact. It is #GlobalRunningDay! I’ve fallen in love with this sport over the past year! It’s truly amazing to see how far I’ve come.

Believe me when I say, I was the gal in the gym that did the same 3 miles in 30 minutes on the same treadmill. I refused to run outside and if I ever did run outside, I only lasted for maybe 10 minutes before I got a cramp or convinced myself I couldn’t breathe. I never pushed myself to realize my true potential.

Because of my ‘inability’ to run I felt so trapped at my fitness level. I was stuck in my routine and I couldn’t break out of it because I was telling myself that I couldn’t.

nike quotes

Once I joined the Chicago fitness community through Nike studio classes & running classes, Shred classes, (hot) yoga and more fun fitness events throughout the city, I realized that I CAN. I CAN run more than 3 miles and I CAN run outside. I stopped telling myself no and that is when the doors opened for me. I gained confidence in myself because even if I only ran 3.2 miles or 3.5 miles, it was a stepping stone. As you may or may not know, this new confidence has led me to sign up for the 2016 Bank of America Chicago Marathon! This will be my first marathon and I could not be more excited.

I have decided to run my first marathon on behalf of the Girls on the Run charity. I got involved with Girls on the Run because it is a community of positive role models (coaches) that teach 3rd – 8th grade girls the importance of personal health, community and confidence. The girls go through a 12-week program led by coaches and each week they learn a new lesson. Meanwhile, throughout the 12 weeks the girls are training for a non-competitive 5K.

What were you doing as an 8 year old or a 12 year old? I know for me, I was already worried about how I looked. I enjoyed playing sports, but I never had confidence in myself to forget what other people thought of me on the field – at 8 years old and 12 years old, I was telling myself ‘I can’t’. Girls on the Run is a program that tells girls they can. it helps them develop a healthy community, healthy role models, learn about healthy eating (and no, I don’t mean brainwashing them to only eat organic or vegan or gluten free, etc. but the importance of the basic fruits and vegetables in their well balanced diet), learn about healthy friendships, respect, kindness and goal setting. This list is not exclusive. All of these lessons are learned in a group setting where the girls can talk about hard topics (ex: bullying) in a safe environment. After the lesson, they build up to running a 5K.

This program is truly remarkable. I could go on and on. I WISH I knew of a program like this as a kid. The problem is that a lot of girls (85% of them) request financial assistance to participate. The coaches are volunteers but there are a lot of other details that cost money to run this program (healthy snacks each week, program materials, shirts for the girls, tiaras to celebrate them, etc). Thus, I decided to dedicate my first marathon to these girls. I am asking for your help to raise $1,000 to help support these programs. Help support the 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 year old girls who tell themselves ‘I can’t’ or ‘I’m not good enough’ or ‘I have no friends’. Our $1,000 donation can be used in so many ways!

$938: Covers the cost of finisher medals for 700 girls
$761: Covers the cost of training 10 new coaches
$485: Covers the cost of all curriculum materials and supplies for 8 teams
$330: Covers the cost of program t-shirts for 85 girls
$255: Covers the cost of water bottles for 300 girls
$141: Covers the cost for one girl to participate in GOTRC for one season
$47: Covers the cost of the average program scholarship across four income tiers
$25: Covers the cost of 150 bananas for the 5K finish line

All this being said, I’m taking on a new feat with fundraising. I’ve never actually fund-raised money on my own before. It is the road less traveled for me. I’m trying my best to get the word out there, but it’s taking all of this new confidence I have to actually ASK people to help. I believe in this program too strongly to stay quiet. I know I CAN… neigh, WE can raise $1,000 to support this program. I have a donation page you can find here . You can give any denomination amount ($10 minimum). You do have to sign up and create a little account but it takes about 3 minutes and it will make such an impact!

If you know someone who would be passionate about this sort of cause, please send along the link for the donation page, or this blog or my instagram (@leahbeutler) or facebook – I’ve recently ramped up my fundraising efforts and I’m hoping to get closer and closer to my $1,000 each day!

I thank you so much for all of your love and support during my training. I thank you so much for all of your donations. The girls of Girls on the Run Chicago thank you even more.

Please use this post as a lesson; NEVER tell yourself you can’t. Do what you’re scared to do. Find something you love and go ALL OUT. Whatever you want to do, YES, you can. It might not happen overnight, but if you plan and prepare, you truly can do ANYTHING you put your mind to. Who knows who you’ll be inspiring along the way!

Here is my donation link once again: – Thank you so much for all of your help!!

Until Next Time..

ETC: A 4 Week Nutrition Journey – Part 4

Hi friends! How is your week going? I hope it’s great! Today is a big day, we are finishing up our 4 week series!!

How has your nutrition journey been going thus far? Have you been shopping at Aldi to find more affordable groceries? How about meal prepping, does that help? Have any of my tips inspired new habits of your own? My goal with this mini series was to get you thinking about your health and help you realize that healthy doesn’t have to be difficult.

We’ve already touched on some of the ‘essential’ ingredients you should stock in your kitchen. It’s those ingredients, plus a few others, that will help make your food extra tasty in a healthy way. 

Now, almost everyone knows you can add salt to everything and ‘voila!’ flavor. But, I recommend you try to avoid salt as a main spice and only use it sparingly. Sodium can sneak in to so many things (cheese, meats, etc) that we probably don’t need any more sprinkled on our food.

A few of my favorite spices and sauces to make food even tastier:


  • Garlic: fresh garlic is the best! If you don’t have a garlic press, I recommend you get one! Otherwise, you can purchase pre-chopped garlic in most every store. Garlic goes wel on any meat and any veggies. Warm up a little coconut oil in a pan and sautée your garlic for about a minute or two, then add your meat and/or veggies then continue to cook until they are done. (If you don’t have fresh garlic, use garlic powder or garlic salt; be weary of garlic salt because it is, after all, salt.)
  • Cumin: Taco Tuesday anyone? Cumin adds a delicious ‘Mexican’ spice to your food. It’s great to sprinkle on chicken for tacos, even steak or shrimp can become the perfect meat options for tacos with a bit of cumin!
  • Chili Powder: Chili powder gives food a hint of spice without making you sweat. It’s one of those spices that adds the beloved “blackened” flavor to your foods. Mix chili powder and cumin for a DIY taco seasoning! 
  • Fresh Crushed Black Pepper: Pepper is so underrated. Especially fresh crushed pepper! You don’t have a pepper grinder? I highly suggest you invest! You can buy them as a one-time use sort of thing (once the peppercorns run out, you toss it) for about $1.50 or a reusable one anywhere from $4-$25+. Crank your pepper grinder a few times over everything you cook, meat, veggies, soups, salads, chili and eggs. It’s a delicious way to add a little spice and it goes great on pretty much everything!
  • Parsley: The fresh stuff is always best, but if you have the spice in your cabinet it will still do the trick! I like to add parsley to steaks and chicken in addition to garlic and a squeeze of lemon. It’s a delicate spice but one that makes your food pretty and helps it taste great!
  • Lemon/Lime: Speaking of lemons and limes, they are a great way to jazz up your food! Remember those tacos we were talking about before? Squeeze some lime over the meat for your tacos and you’re ready for a zesty fiesta! Lemon is great with basically every fish! I squeeze it on my salmon (if I’m not making a glaze) and it’s the perfect addition!


  • Soy Sauce: Soy sauce is delicious and a quick way to add flavor to a meal! I recommend using a low sodium variety, otherwise you can get an overload on salt very quickly. I use soy sauce on tofu as well as to make a honey soy glaze for fish (google it, it’s amazing).
  • Sriracha: Contrary to popular belief, I think there is a time and a place for sriracha and that is on Asian cuisine or Mac and Cheese. That’s about it for me. Most people put it on everything, (which is fine!) but you’re missing out on a few other sauces I’d highly recommend..
  • Valentina: My personal favorite. I put this on everything from tacos to eggs to steak. You can typically find it in the Mexican food aisle of your grocery store. Try it! It’s amazing! 
  • Cholula: ok, so I like hot sauce! No list on “how to make food tasty” is complete without Cholula. A close second to my beloved Valentina, if you haven’t tried it.. Do it! 
  • Salsa: Be weary of your salsas! Many are packed with salt and sugar and unnecessary ingredients! Read the labels! One of my favorite brands is La Victoria. Salsa can be added to many meals (chicken, eggs, fish, etc) to add some flavor without adding too many calories.

As you can see, there are many ways you can jazz up food to make it tastier without just adding salt. 

I hope, through this nutrition journey, you were able to find at least a few of my tips and tricks helpful!

Now for our final recipe! Well, at least for this journey! 🙂

Tofu Rice Bowl


  • 1 package of extra firm tofu
  • I head of broccoli
  • 1/2 bag of frozen peas
  • 1/2 bag of frozen corn
  • 2 cups of rice 
  • Soy sauce
  • Sriracha


  1. Start by cooking your rice. 2 cups of rice + 4 cups of water, bring to a boil and once it starts to boil cover and turn down very low
  2. Prepare to cook the tofu. I typically put it on a pan and squeeze it between paper towels to drain the water from the tofu.
  3. Heat coconut oil (or sesame oil) in a pan. Cut tofu into chunks and pour 2 tbsp soy sauce over tofu. Cook tofu in oil for about 5-7 minutes, or until the edges are crisp.
  4. Bring 1 large pot of water to a boil. Trim your broccoli into small florets and add to the boiling water. Let boil for 5 minutes. Drain and run under cool water or submerge into cool water to prevent it from continuously cooking.
  5. Bring another pot of water to a boil and add the peas and corn. Boil for 5-7 minutes. Drain. 
  6. Check your rice, it should be close to done 🙂
  7. Prepare your bowl! Add 1/2 cup of rice to the bottom of a bowl, top with tofu, broccoli, peas and corn. Drizzle sriracha over the top of the bowl. Enjoy! 

Lastly, if you have it in your heart and wallet, please consider donating to Girls on the Run! An amazing organization that helps young girls gain the confidence and skills in themselves to run a 5k and build a healthy, positive community! You can learn more about Girls on the Run and donate here: Leah’s Chicago Marathon Fundraising Page

Thank you in advance friends! 

Until next time..

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:
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..