Category Archives: 30-Day Challenge

Soup Recipe + End of a Challenge

I made a hearty and delicious soup Sunday night that I have been eating ever since!  It’s been my lunch and dinner a lot this week and is such a comforting and nutritious meal!  Plus, it’s very satisfying and filling!

I adapted this recipe from Rachael Ray

Cauliflower Cheese Soup

  • 1 large head of cauliflower, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3-4 ribs of celery, chopped
  • 1/2 cup low fat half and half + 1/2 cup 1% milk
  • 4 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 4 oz sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • Garlic powder
  • Hot pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper
  • Few dashes of hot sauce
  • Few shakes of parmesan cheese

*Note: I don’t measure my seasonings, I go on taste.

In a large pot, heat up the olive oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter, over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cauliflower florets and stir. Add celery, onion, red pepper flakes, and garlic powder and cook for 3 minutes.

Push the vegetables to 1 side of the pot. Melt 1 more tablespoon of butter on empty side of pot and add flour to the butter. Cook for 1 minute, stirring the flour in the butter. Mix in chicken broth and half-and-half and milk mixture. Bring up to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Add the cheese and stir until melted into soup.

Puree soup using an emersion blender, food processor or blender and return to pot.  Check seasoning and add a dash of hot sauce, if desired.

Soup!

**Make sure to season to your taste.  I like my soup with a little kick so I added extra hot sauce and red pepper flakes.

30-Day 90-Day Challenge

So I’ve been slacking on my 30-day challenge! Tonight I am going to breeze through the last few topics to finish it up!

Favorite Movie: A League of Their Own, it’s been my favorite since the day I saw it in the theater.  I love the cast and the story is just great!

A League of Their Own

Someone who fascinates me: Oprah…the woman does it all (She has her own Network!) and uses her fame for good.  She is a saint!

Oprah

What kind of person attracts you: Someone compassionate, loving, generous, hard working, driven, funny, easy going, and loves their family and friends (basically describing Andy 😉 )

Andy and I

A problem that I have had: Sucking my thumb…once in a while I still do it! Crazy, I’m 26 years old and still find comfort in it! I do it when I am very, very sleepy (I sound like a toddler!)

Something that I miss: My family! I wish they lived close!

We Are Family!

Goals for the Next 30-Days: Continue running consistently each week, continue filling my diet with plenty of whole foods, and to enjoy each day!

Highs and Lows of the Month:

Lows:

  • The dreary weather and my car accident was a definite low
  • I also fell this morning on some ice walking my dogs

But other than that, it’s been a good month…I am blessed!

Highs:

Baby Claire

  • I went home to Cincinnati visit my parents and brother

My brother Mike and I

Girls Night Out

5K Race

It’s been a good month! 🙂

Question:

What’s been your ‘high’ of the last month?

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Life Isn’t Always How We Plan

So I’ll elaborate more about my car accident from Monday.  Like I mentioned, I was not hurt what so ever, but I was left a bit shaken!

Unexpected Snow Storm

I was driving home from Cincinnati to Cleveland, which is typically a 4-hour drive.  The weather called for some flurries in Cleveland so I was not too worried about bad weather.  That is until I got past Columbus, OH.

Snow + Ice + Rain = Disaster

When I got just outside of Columbus (which is about an hour and a half from Cincinnati), the weather was horrendous.  It was a total ice storm.  It was raining, sleeting, hailing and snowing all at the same time.  I had no clue this would be happening!

As I began to slow my car from a cruising pace of 70mph I saw an accident to my right.  I got over to the far left hand lane to make room for semi trucks to get over as well.  My car slowed down to around 50mph and I said out loud to myself “I need to really slow down, it looks crazy out here”.

Just as I was slowing down a semi was to my right.  I decided that once I passed up the semi I would get over to the far right (as I was in the passing lane in the left) to drive slow.   But I was unable to pass the semi.  My car went out of control as I slipped on the ice and straight into a metal guard rail and into a grass ditch.  I was terrified!

I wasn’t so much scared that I crashed, but more so I was afraid that another car would do the same thing and just plow into me.   After several minutes of panicking and calls to my family and Andy, I managed to drive my car out of the ditch.

After driving back into the road something didn’t feel right. My car was wobbling and my steering wheel felt strange.  I pulled over to the right and called a tow truck.  My car was not going to make it!

And I Waited

Unfortunately there were many accidents and it took hours for a tow truck to come.  I sat and waited for 3 hours in my car on the side of the road as the snow piled up.   I would like to say I was calm, but patience is not my best quality. Truthfully, I was a bit panicked.  I didn’t like being on the side of the road alone.  Plus it got dark and scary outside.

The tow truck came and I decided that the weather was too dangerous for Andy to come get me (that was the original plan).  Plus I was still 2 hours from home.  It would take him much longer with the weather to even get there then we’d have to drive all the way back.   I had the tow truck guy drop me off at a Comfort Inn hotel.  And I waited again.

Still Waiting

Many other people had the same idea to stay at a hotel that night.  And the Comfort Inn was not expecting this storm…so they had very few clean rooms.  There were about 30 of us waiting for a room and the house keepers had to clean them all.  I waited 4 hours for a room in the lobby.  It was pretty boring and I was getting pretty cranky.  Luckily I had a book and stayed occupied.  But Andy and my parents would tell you that I was a baby.  I complained to them and wanted their pity.  Not my finest moment!

I got to bed around 11:30pm and woke up around 7am.  I had some continental breakfast (best part of the whole ordeal I must say!) and waited some more.  My car wasn’t ready until 3:30pm.   So all day I watched TV and read my book “An Unquiet Mind”, which is about bipolar disorder (side note: very good book, I recommend it).

Cheez-Its and Combos = My Food Groups

My diet consisted of mainly vending machine eats since I was not in walking distance of restaurants.  Cheese Combos, Cheez-Its and candy were a major staple the past couple of days!

Dinner

Lunch

I was glad to get home yesterday to see Andy and the pups.  I feel safe and secure once more.  I thanked God that I was safe and that my accident was not serious and that I was OK.

Lessons Learned

To be honest, I had a feeling that day something was not going to go right so I had some prior warning. Strange how intuition is always right! But I had to get home and I would not have had the opportunity to leave later…unless the storm had been predicted to be really bad.

I guess this accident was a test of my patience and how I handle tough situations…and I failed miserably! One thing I learned is that I need to remain calm in these situations.  Life is not always going to go as planned and panicking is not going to help.  I needed to stop and take a minute to think instead of getting all crazy.  Looking back on the situation, yes it was scary, but I was not hurt and I needed to calm down and think things through.  Lesson learned!

5 Hot Guys

On a totally unrelated note, part of the 30-day challenge (which in reality is taking me about 90!) the topic is to post up 5 celebrity guys that I think are hot.  Here we go!

Jake

James

Johnny

Shane

Matthew

Question:

Do you  have a celebrity crush?

Life Isn't Always How We Plan

So I’ll elaborate more about my car accident from Monday.  Like I mentioned, I was not hurt what so ever, but I was left a bit shaken!

Unexpected Snow Storm

I was driving home from Cincinnati to Cleveland, which is typically a 4-hour drive.  The weather called for some flurries in Cleveland so I was not too worried about bad weather.  That is until I got past Columbus, OH.

Snow + Ice + Rain = Disaster

When I got just outside of Columbus (which is about an hour and a half from Cincinnati), the weather was horrendous.  It was a total ice storm.  It was raining, sleeting, hailing and snowing all at the same time.  I had no clue this would be happening!

As I began to slow my car from a cruising pace of 70mph I saw an accident to my right.  I got over to the far left hand lane to make room for semi trucks to get over as well.  My car slowed down to around 50mph and I said out loud to myself “I need to really slow down, it looks crazy out here”.

Just as I was slowing down a semi was to my right.  I decided that once I passed up the semi I would get over to the far right (as I was in the passing lane in the left) to drive slow.   But I was unable to pass the semi.  My car went out of control as I slipped on the ice and straight into a metal guard rail and into a grass ditch.  I was terrified!

I wasn’t so much scared that I crashed, but more so I was afraid that another car would do the same thing and just plow into me.   After several minutes of panicking and calls to my family and Andy, I managed to drive my car out of the ditch.

After driving back into the road something didn’t feel right. My car was wobbling and my steering wheel felt strange.  I pulled over to the right and called a tow truck.  My car was not going to make it!

And I Waited

Unfortunately there were many accidents and it took hours for a tow truck to come.  I sat and waited for 3 hours in my car on the side of the road as the snow piled up.   I would like to say I was calm, but patience is not my best quality. Truthfully, I was a bit panicked.  I didn’t like being on the side of the road alone.  Plus it got dark and scary outside.

The tow truck came and I decided that the weather was too dangerous for Andy to come get me (that was the original plan).  Plus I was still 2 hours from home.  It would take him much longer with the weather to even get there then we’d have to drive all the way back.   I had the tow truck guy drop me off at a Comfort Inn hotel.  And I waited again.

Still Waiting

Many other people had the same idea to stay at a hotel that night.  And the Comfort Inn was not expecting this storm…so they had very few clean rooms.  There were about 30 of us waiting for a room and the house keepers had to clean them all.  I waited 4 hours for a room in the lobby.  It was pretty boring and I was getting pretty cranky.  Luckily I had a book and stayed occupied.  But Andy and my parents would tell you that I was a baby.  I complained to them and wanted their pity.  Not my finest moment!

I got to bed around 11:30pm and woke up around 7am.  I had some continental breakfast (best part of the whole ordeal I must say!) and waited some more.  My car wasn’t ready until 3:30pm.   So all day I watched TV and read my book “An Unquiet Mind”, which is about bipolar disorder (side note: very good book, I recommend it).

Cheez-Its and Combos = My Food Groups

My diet consisted of mainly vending machine eats since I was not in walking distance of restaurants.  Cheese Combos, Cheez-Its and candy were a major staple the past couple of days!

Dinner

Lunch

I was glad to get home yesterday to see Andy and the pups.  I feel safe and secure once more.  I thanked God that I was safe and that my accident was not serious and that I was OK.

Lessons Learned

To be honest, I had a feeling that day something was not going to go right so I had some prior warning. Strange how intuition is always right! But I had to get home and I would not have had the opportunity to leave later…unless the storm had been predicted to be really bad.

I guess this accident was a test of my patience and how I handle tough situations…and I failed miserably! One thing I learned is that I need to remain calm in these situations.  Life is not always going to go as planned and panicking is not going to help.  I needed to stop and take a minute to think instead of getting all crazy.  Looking back on the situation, yes it was scary, but I was not hurt and I needed to calm down and think things through.  Lesson learned!

5 Hot Guys

On a totally unrelated note, part of the 30-day challenge (which in reality is taking me about 90!) the topic is to post up 5 celebrity guys that I think are hot.  Here we go!

Jake

James

Johnny

Shane

Matthew

Question:

Do you  have a celebrity crush?

Gotta Make time for the Girls!

I’m still pluggin’ away on this 30-Day Challenge.  Even though I have not been 100% about doing it in 30-days, I’m still going to cover all of the topics.  So stay tuned, there are still a good few left! 🙂

A Heat Wave

Today it’s actually quite warm for Cleveland, we’re in the 50s! Holy heat wave! But it won’t last long, it’s going to drop to 26 tonight.  I did, however, get to enjoy a nice, sunny 2 mile walk with the pups this morning before work.  It felt nice to actually walk without snow on the ground.  I think it’s the first time I’ve seen my sidewalks in 3 months!

Baby Claire

I announced yesterday that Andy is a new uncle to baby Claire.  We went to visit Lindsay (Andy’s sister-in-law) and Joe (Andy’s brother) in the hospital last night and I got to meet the new bundle of joy.  She is the most precious little thing I’ve seen in a long time!  She’s a doll! Here are some pictures:

Uncle Andy and baby Claire

Andy and I with baby Claire

What a sweet pea she is!

Like the slicked back hair I am sporting? It’s my “just got home from work, showered and ran out the door look” 😉

The new baby

Mama and baby

I can tell Andy is so excited to be an uncle! His parents are even more excited to be Grandparents, they are just elated!  It’s certainly a wonderful time in our lives to celebrate!

Have you had any new additions to your family lately?

30-Day Challenge

Today’s topic is to talk about my favorite show.

Over the years, I’ve fallen in love with many, many shows.  I remember being a young child and being obsessed with Sesame Street, then I loved Baywatch and would pretend to be a lifeguard when I swam (big change of pace from Sesame Street!)

Baywatch

Then came Reality TV.

Those crazy Jersey Kids

I am a reality TV junkie, I’m not afraid to admit it! Personal favorites from over the years and from the present are (in no particular order):

  • Jersey Shore (I love watching these guys party!)
  • Real World (this show never stops! What are we on now, season 20?!)
  • America’s Next Top Model
  • The Real Housewives
  • The Bachelor/Bachelorette
  • The Millionaire Matchmaker (Bravo is one of the best networks for Reality TV in my opinion!)
  • And many more!

But no reality show can steal my heart from my one true favorite show: The Golden Girls!

 

The Golden Girls

I started watching the Golden Girls when I was 12.  I was at my Grandmother’s house in Florida (go figure) and just fell in love with the hilarious ladies on this show.

Laughing with my girls

Each character (Dorothy, Rose, Sophia, and Blanche) is so unique, witty and charming.  This show just instantly puts me in a good mood! Luckily for me it’s on a lot on networks like Hallmark and WE.  I also have many of the seasons on DVD.  I always gotta make time for the girls!

Question:

What is your all time favorite show?

Respect Your Parents

I’m a bit behind in my 30-Day Challenge, so today I have two lovely topics.

But first I’ll tell you about my Valentine’s Day dinner. 

Happy Valentine's Day!

Andy had a lovely meal waiting for me when I got home (which went unpictured, as we gobbled it down!)  I work late on Mondays and don’t get home until 8pm.  Cooking is the last thing I want to do that late (unless I put something in the crock pot), so lately Andy has been cooking on those nights or we do left overs.

Last night Andy was quite the chef! He had a candle lit dinner waiting for me as I walked in the door.  The house smelled wonderful! He made breaded chicken, mixed vegetables and rice.  It was so good, I love his cooking!

Of course Valentine’s Day would not be complete without some sweets and Andy did not disappoint! He bought peanut butter ice cream, which is my favorite (And the entire half gallon is gone, I polished off the rest tonight…didn’t last long!)

Dessert

He also had the kitchen all clean and tidy.  What a guy! It was a great Valentine’s Day!

A Love Bug from Andy 🙂

We don’t do huge gifts for Valentine’s Day mainly because we both don’t have a ton of money! I think little things are much more thoughtful to be honest.  And a home cooked meal and a clean house was right up my ally.  I got him some candy, almonds, and hot sauce.  We love food, what can I say!

Valentine's Day Goodies

 Now on to today’s topics in the 30-Day Challenge!

Disrespecting your Parents

The  first topic is disrespecting your parents. All I have to say is: Give your parents some RESPECT! They brought you into this world and can take you out (totally kidding but I just  had to say it!)

When I was in high school I remember thinking that my parents were trying to ‘ruin’ my life. As I got older I began to appreciate my parents and all they had done for me growing up and all that they still do for me.  They love me unconditionally and are always there to support me.  I love them so much.

If I could go back in time to talk to my snotty 15 year old self, I’d say, “Mom and Dad work so hard! Quick being a little brat!” But I can’t.  And it’s hard to tell a teenager anything, I know this all to well. At least I am at a time in my life where I do realize how much I love them and how much they mean to me and I can tell them this every time we talk.

Mom and Dad

It’s important to tell your parents, or whoever raised you, how much they mean to you and tell them “thank you” and “I love you” as often as possible.  So go on, tell your parents that you love em’ and give em’ a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T!

The Importance of Education

The next topic is my view on education. I think being educated is so important.  I am a big advocate for furthering your education in whatever area you are interested.  For me, it was going to college and on to Graduate School. 

Graduation Day

I believe having an education has given me a ton of experience (both in and out of the classroom) and allowed me to land a great job in my field.  Without my degrees, I can tell you that I would not be able to do be a Corporate Fitness Specialist.

I realize higher education is not for everyone, but it certainly helped me because I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do.  College allowed me to explore my options and find what my interests were.  I encourage everyone to expand their knowledge and find what they are passionate about.  What you find might surprise you.  I never envisioned myself working in the field of exercise and health growing up, but now I can’t imagine anything else at the moment. Through college I was able to find my niche. 

Question:

Did you always know what you wanted to do as a career? Or did it take you a while to find out? Or are you still trying to figure that out?

Change is Good and Another Biggie

Simple recipe alert!

I wanted a recipe to make where I had all ingredients on hand.  I almost always have canned tuna, dry pasta, cheese, and frozen vegetables so I made something that contained all of those plus a couple extra goodies.

Enter the classic: Tuna Noodle Casserole! I kept some of the basics, but added my own twist on this simple recipe.

Broccoli and Tuna Noodle Casserole:

  • 1 package of whole wheat pasta cooked
  • 1 package frozen chopped broccoli, cooked (I cooked in the microwave for 5 minutes)
  • 1 can tuna (5oz can)
  • 1 can mushrooms, drained
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • About 1-1.5 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
  • About 1 cup crushed potato chips (or crackers, bread crumbs, whatever you like for added crunch!)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients (minus cheese and chips) in a baking dish and mix well.  Top with shredded cheese and bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees.  Take out and top with crushed chips and bake an additional 5 minutes.

I really enjoyed this meal! Hot, creamy and delicious! What’s not to love about a dish with chips on it? 😉

Broccoli and Tuna Noodle Casserole

Mmm, this was a winner!  It was especially great to take for work as left overs.  I love a simple recipe and I really love a simple lunch to pack for work! It’s a win win!

Change is Good

This morning I woke up with quite the dilemma: We were out of milk!

I almost always have cereal for breakfast.  I love it so much! It’s quick to make and is always delicious.  And for me, it keeps me full for a good amount of time (maybe because I always eat a ginormous amount and not the recommended servings size 😉 )

So instead, I decided to change it up and have something else.  Change is good! I had a tub of 2% Fage Greek Yogurt in the fridge, so I decided to make a yogurt bowl with a plethora of toppings.

My yogurt bowl included:

  • 2% Fage Greek Yogurt
  • 1 banana
  • 2 kinds of Kashi Cereal: Kashi Flakes and Golden Goodness
  • About 1 tbsp real maple syrup (to flavor the yogurt)
  • About 1 tbsp peanut butter (Skippy brand Natural with honey)

Yogurt Bowl Ingredients

Yogurt Bowl

Along with my yogurt bowl I had some hot coffee with low fat half and half.

Friday's Breakfast

I have to say this breakfast was pretty good!  I loved the variety of flavors and textures and it kept me full for a good 4 hours until lunch, just like my cereal typically does.

Yogurt Bowls = Delicious

30-Day Challenge Topic

Today’s topic is to discuss my beliefs. Another biggie! Without getting to into things (I want to keep my blog primarily health and fitness related and not too, too personal), I will give you the basics of what I personally believe.

I’ll stem off of what I feel about religion.  I am more spiritual in nature and do not follow a specific religion.  I do believe in a God and a higher power that is so beautiful and true that it would be inconceivable to compare to anything that is available to us on Earth.

I believe that living this life on Earth is just a part of a greater whole.  I think we are here to learn, grow and develop as spiritual beings.  I believe we are here to love and spread the word of love.

I think that when we die that it’s actually a celebration. I think living on Earth is tough and difficult (as it should be…we are here to learn and the only way to learn is to experience things, good and bad) and that when we do pass to the other side it should be celebrated.  Life goes on.

I’ll end it at that 🙂 Have a great weekend everyone!!!

Question:

What do you like to mix into yogurt?

The Highest of Highs and the Lowest of Lows

Nope, not talking about being high as a kite Miley Cirus style! I am talking about my highs and lows of the past year, which is today’s topic in the 30-Day Challenge.

Let’s get the LOWS out of the way…

Homesickness

I moved away to Georgia (from Ohio) last summer in 2009 for a job.  I had just graduated from Graduate School and wanted the job I had been dreaming about.  I wanted to be a Fitness Director for a University Recreation Center.  And when I got a job offer, I jumped at the chance.

I knew I’d have to relocate and move away from everything I knew, but I felt up for it.  I felt excited for a  new challenge.  I figured, I’m young, not married and don’t have kids.  If I want to move away on my own, this is when to do it!

 

My old GA apartment

 

I was dating Andy for almost 3-years and still wanted to continue dating him.  We’d just have to be long distance.  And we made it work.

Andy in for a visit!

We saw each other almost monthly.  It was just gut-wrenching to drop him off at the airport when he’d leave.  It was awful.  Same thing would happen when I’d visit him or my family and friends in Ohio.  Leaving was so painful and I’d become depressed.  This lead me into a binge eating habit that got way out of control.

Eating Issues

Just last year I was at war with myself.  I was using food to cope with my homesickness.  It was a double edged sward.  I’d feel good when I was eating then feel terrible for overeating.  I felt defeated.

Quitting

I knew I wanted to leave my job almost immediately.  But I wanted to at least finish a year.  And I did.  But it was very hard to have the conversation with my boss.  The people I worked with were very good to me (seriously, the south has some of the nicest folks!).  I was always stressed out knowing I wanted to leave and not being able to actually say anything.  Eventually I did though, which started me on a path of feeling my ‘highs’ again.

Let’s move on to the HIGHS…

I quit! As much as it was a low and I dreaded having to tell my boss that I quit, it was quite the high to finally get it off my chest.  I felt like I was stuck in limbo for the longest time.  So when I finally made the decision to leave my job, I was then able to move on and begin planning my  next steps: Which was to move back to Ohio and move in with Andy.  Hallelujah, I was almost home!

Moving to Ohio

Best decision ever! I love being back in Ohio and I love living with Andy and our dogs, Boo and Sophia (I actually got both of them in GA, so Andy accumulated 3 new roomies when I moved back 😉 )

On the road from GA to OH!

I love our little family that we have.  I also enjoy being so close to his family and being close to some of my good friends.  My parents are in Cincinnati, which is 4 hours away, but it’s a lot better than 10!

Food Troubles = Gone

Around February of last year is when I hit rock bottom with food and self esteem.  I was battling my own body. And I finally reached a point where I had enough.  That one moment of clarity and that one moment of making the decision to be good to myself changed everything.  Since then I have not binged, restricted my intake, or even thought about going down that path.  Each day I choose to be good to myself.

(Read about my Strategies for Ending Food Obsession here and here).

New Job

I moved back to Ohio at the end of June (also moved in with Andy!) and by October I found a full time job in my field as a Fitness Specialist. It took a few months to find, but waiting paid off (I did work at a vitamin supplement store during the months of July through October until I found something else…gotta pay those bills!)

I absolutely love my job. It’s perfect for me at this point in my life.  I have nice hours, great benefits, I get along great with my co-workers and I work for an amazing organization.  I couldn’t be happier with my job.

Let’s keep those highs coming! 🙂

Question:

What’s been your highest high over the past year?