In my head it really doesn’t make sense, but in my heart it completely does

So March 22nd-23rd I’m attending a 2-day seminar through RRCA (Road Runner’s Club of America) to become a certified Running Coach.

As if that wasn’t insane enough, I may or may not have lost my ever-lovin mind and signed up for THIS Saturday evening…

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February 3rd, I’ll be staring a 9-week course to become a Certified Personal Trainer through NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine).

Let me preface this by saying I am not the strongest person. I am not the fastest runner. I will never be the next Jillian Michaels. I have no desire to be. I don’t want to train professional athletes. All I know is that God has taught me a lot this past year about health, wellness, and what it means to have balance in all areas of your life and He’s given me a passion that is out of control and I need to pursue it.

All I know is that I’m being led to pursue this for whatever reason. Given I am a woman of strong faith, I don’t question the stuff God places on my heart. I know that in good time, His purpose for all things will be revealed. It always is.

I know this…I understand a person’s struggles with diet, exercise, and starting a daily fitness routine. I understand how comforting food can be when at the end of the day you wanna bury yourself in a Family Size bag of Doritos. I understand that running is hard. I understand that it’s not fun to have Jillian screaming at you from your TV screen and that you feel like death trying to keep up with her partner who is “modifying” the exercises for you. I get it because I’ve been there. I was the overweight, unhappy, sluggish person who just ate herself to oblivion every single night after a hard day. I was the girl who “scoffed” at people who “worked out.” I found comfort in bread, chocolate, and diet pop (soda for ya’ll down south).  I was the girl who watched her double-digit jean sizes keep rising and rising and rising. That was me.

I don’t know what God has in store for me through all of these certifications, but I am looking forward to seeing what that is. I am hoping that through my own experiences, and the fact that I can relate to a person’s struggles will make me a better choice for those who choose to work with me in the future. I told my husband this morning, my priority in this venture is not money. I am simply going to be happy if I can help one person change their life and learn to live it to their true potential with the gift of health.

That will make ALL of this worth every second.

Because this stuff isn’t just a game, people. This is TOUGH coursework that kicks my butt.  But if it helps me get to a place where I can give back to others, then so be it.

I trust God knows what’s up, cuz my brain is screaming this is INSANITY, but my heart feels all warm and fuzzy that I’m doing the right thing.

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So here’s the deal…

2013 was, by far, the happiest and most challenging year of my life.

Nobody on earth will probably ever tell you that the year they became a mom or dad for the first time was the absolute worst year of their lives.

I’d challenge ya to find someone.

Was it fun? Not always. Was it easy? HECK TO THE NO. Was it rewarding? Yes. Worth it? DEFINITELY.

Why? I was transformed.

2013 was a challenge as my whole world was turned upside down by this little being who I was totally unprepared for. This cute amazing boy who has taught me so much about myself, about life and about love is my BEST FRIEND. He is everything. Sad to say I probably failed him more times than I care to count. I allowed my frustrations with our lives being completely flipped upside down out of nowhere to invade my life. I became a negative human being who was constantly tired, constantly crabby.  I have not been a positive role model to my child this year. At the end of the day I crabbed at my husband, I took out frustrations on friends, I lost interest in my work, I cared about nothing other than having good times playing with my kid and my pillow and blanket.

I got sick. I got REALLY sick.

I wasn’t taking care of myself. My body revolted. Change needed to happen.

After multiple trips to different doctors, so much blood drawn out of my body it would make ya faint, a trip to the ER after I passed out in my bathroom incoherent, etc, I got a grip.

I was killing myself. My attitude. The constant need to be “thin” or “fit” so I starved myself (unconsciously). I worked out 2-2.5 hours a day (no I’m not kidding), I needed to be the “every woman” for my son and my husband. I needed to have a fully clean house 24/7, I needed to put food on the table (that I wouldn’t eat), I needed to run big races, and be fast and speedy.

FAIL. FAIL. FAIL.

I had to feed my body. I had to feed my soul. I had to feed my life both spiritually, mentally, prayerfully, and physically.

I’m a person who “goes big or goes home” in life. I never take the easy route; it’s just not in my nature. Unfortunately it took me until September to figure out I was spiraling out of control and my family and son were paying for it.

Going back to school in September for my Health Coach certification was exactly what I needed. I revamped our whole family’s way of life. I chose joy each and every day. I chose to face each day with determination to be better than the day before (not as a runner, not as a “fit chic,” not as the “every woman”). I chose to be more intentional about growing together as a family. So what if I wasn’t out running 8 miles a day + cross training my brains out and then taking my kid out for another jaunt in the BOB stroller? So what if I was only getting in a 30 minute walk some days? Big deal. Was I feeling better? Was I looking better? Was my mindset on life changing? Yes.

God threw that health coach course into my brain out of nowhere. It was the most far-out idea I’ve ever had and nothing even remotely close to being on my radar earlier this year.  Together as a family we are stronger, much healthier, living much more fulfilled lives, and feeling FABULOUS.

Gone are the days of negative self-talk. Gone are the days of starving myself or caring what others think of me or how I’m perceived as an individual, as a woman, wife and mother. Here are the days where everything I do I do for my son and my husband. I choose to be strong not only physically (training in the RIGHT way with it being in the RIGHT place in my heart), and mentally; all while taking care of the gift of life God has given me. I needed to stop honoring myself through poor lifestyle choices and I’m now honoring God and serving Him through the gifts he’s bestowed upon me.

So 2014 isn’t here yet, but it’s already lookin good. I promise to never ever take for granted the knowledge I’ve been given and always will strive to choose joy for my family in the decisions we make and the time we have together. I am throwing myself full-force into coaching this year and will be adding “Certified Running Coach” to my resume in just a few months as well. As a family we’re diving into our new church home fully and starting next week we’ll be attending membership classes so we can officially become a part of their team. We’ve really enjoyed getting to know so many new friends through small group Bible study and other church activities. God put this new church home directly in front of us at the time we needed it most and in the last 4 months we have been so blessed. Every week we walk away repeatedly challenged in life. We can’t wait to give back to the church that has given so much to us already in this short time.  I plan to volunteer through various coaching means this upcoming year so that I can help others achieve goals they never dreamed possible.

Out with the old life outlook of self-doubt, anger, negativity, stress and in with the new.

So here’s the deal…I’m choosing joy. I invite you to come along with me.

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Homemade Chicken Garlic pizza

This past Monday night, my parents and sister came over for dinner to celebrate my mom & dad’s 41st wedding anniversary! I’m blessed to be able to say my parents are celebrating that many years of marriage at all, but even doubly blessed to finally be in the same state to celebrate it together as a family!

I don’t really have a full-on recipe for this awesome meal, but wanna challenge you to think of ways to change things up with your pizza. I’m HUGE on veggies and not so much on meat. If I’m going to choose to eat any sort of meat, I’ll go with fish (salmon or tuna), chicken or lean ground turkey every time…and for the pizza…there’s no exception (ok! maybe I’m not gonna put fish on my pizza!).

We bought a pre-made 100% whole wheat crust (but you can definitely make you’re own – and I highly suggest whole wheat flour to do so).

Instead of tomato sauce or any sort of “white” sauce, I simply spread olive oil mixed with fresh minced garlic all over the crust and let it soak in a second before adding the toppings.

We topped it with our faves (green pepper, red onion, some black & green olives for the hubs, sliced organic baby tomatoes, and shredded baked chicken I’d prepped earlier that morning).

Topped with freshly grated mozzarella cheese and it was DELISH.

My family didn’t even miss the sauce!

Try it! Trust me!

It’s nummy in your tummy!

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Almond Quinoa salad

I adapted a recipe I found on eatnourishing.com last week. I didn’t make a whole lot of changes to it, but the original called for cranberries to be included, and quite frankly, I’m just not a fan of those.  The link to the original recipe is above if you’re into the little red berry.

The best part about this salad is that it’s so versatile that you can add your own ingredients to your liking and it will still taste FAB. AND…it can be served both warm or cold!

Check it out…here’s my version:

1 cup quinoa

2 cups chicken broth (I used 2 low-sodium bouillon cubes dissolved in boiling water)

1/2 medium red onion, diced

2 cups chopped broccoli (to simplify this recipe, I used a broccoli steamer bag to warm it up and then chopped the broccoli once steamed)

1 whole red bell pepper, chopped

1/4 cup chopped almonds (I used whole almonds chopped in my food processor and it took 15 seconds)

1/4 cup of feta cheese

3/4 cup red seedless grapes, halved (my choice instead of cranberries)

Dressing:

3 tbs lemon juice

2 tbs pure honey

2 tbs olive oil

sea salt & pepper

Bring water to a boil and add chicken bouillon cubes OR bring chicken broth to a boil.

Add quinoa and reduce heat to low and cover. Let simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 minutes or until quinoa is fluffy and soft and all broth is absorbed.

While quinoa is cooking on the stove top, chop all the other ingredients and mix them in a large salad bowl (excluding feta and almonds)

Whisk dressing together and adjust tastes as desired.

Mix quinoa with chopped ingredients. Pour dressing over salad and mix. Add feta and almonds. ENJOY!

PS…I had this whole thing whipped together and a serving devoured in under 40 minutes. Easy peasy!

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TOMORROW I’ll post my easy garlic chicken pizza that we had for dinner last night! It was a big hit with the whole fam!

 

Me-Time Monday #12

Got all my work outs in this past week despite being out-of-town. I hope you all had a fabulous Thanksgiving. I am jealous if you got to run a Turkey Trot. Turkey day races are seriously some of my favorite of all-time. Unfortunately it will be a few more years before I’m able to be at one again with my work schedule.

Here’s the plan for the week:

Monday 12/2: 4-mile run + core + leg strength + yoga

Tuesday 12/3: 45-minutes bike intervals + core

Wednesday 12/4: 3-mile speed work + leg strength + core

Thursday 12/5: REST day due to work

Friday 12/6: Body Pump + Elliptical + leg strength

Saturday 12/7: 5-mile easy run + core

Sunday 12/8: REST DAY

Total mileage in training for November: 134

P.S. I’m getting REALLY antsy to start a training cycle up again for running. I still have 2.5 months to go before I start half marathon training, but I also think this long break has been so good for me on many different levels. I gotta keep focused on that.

Proof of this AM’s run:

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The one time I ran a 4:15 marathon…

WHAT?!?!?

NO!

Well…kinda?

This past October, Joggermom.com put on a virtual marathon to fight the evil that is cancer. A portion of the proceeds went to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. Given that breast cancer has hit my family hard in the past years, and in the lives of many in my life, and hey…I’m a girl too…I decided to throw every ounce of my being into this race. This was my first big organized virtual run for a cause and one that I am passionate about.

Thousands across the globe ran their butts off to get in the 26.2. The goal was simply this…between October 1st – 31st we were to run a combined total of 26.2 miles to fight cancer. We could do it all in one shot or over the course of several different runs/walks. I got mine done in just over 2 weeks over the course of 8 different runs. I took Evan out on many of those jaunts in our BOB. My combined times for those runs put me at 4:15:00 roughly for the 26.2 miles. MAN I wish I’d be able to run a full marathon in that time, but that’s a goal for a later date in life.

Each and every run had a new perspective for me when I ran for a cause I care deeply about. I was no longer focused on my dumb times or how I was feeling, but rather took time to reflect on the family and friends I’ve either lost to breast cancer or helped support as they fought that trash off. I thought of my own breast cancer scares that I’ve had to endure twice already in my “young age.”

Cancer sucks.

It just does.

I was proud of playing a part in this virtual marathon. Many thanks to JOGGERMOM for putting it on for us…and for the SWEET finisher’s medal.

This winter I hope to do more as I won’t be racing too much here in the frozen tundra. If you know of any for a super good cause, let me know. I’m not really into running those that don’t serve a purpose.

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It’s not rocket science

It goes without saying that the single greatest stress in my life is the state of my house. We live in a 2-bedroom, 1500 sq foot, 2-story town home. It was not our intention on living here longer than 5 years, but this coming March, it will be 7 years. We DEFINITELY did not intend on having a child in this home, but here we are.

We don’t have a lot of space, but we could definitely have a lot more if we’d just de-clutter the heck outta our house. It’s single-handedly the one thing my husband and I argue about in our marriage. It’s not that we don’t agree that it needs to go, we just do NOT have the time to properly attack it now that we have a kiddo. The intention all along was for the 2 of us to take care of it prior to matching with a child and bringing them home in our adoption process. Funny how that works, though since we got matched with Evan after he was already born, less than 3 months after being put on the waiting list, and BAM! He came like a force out of nowhere.

To help ease in my day-to-day anxiety over my house, the hubby and I have come up with a daily cleaning schedule to at least make the house presentable until we can really get to throwing junk out. This is not rocket science to the majority of you who probably have a cleaning routine you do daily. For me, I used to just sit and fume about it because it was SO OVERWHELMING all around me. Instead, a day-to-day list of chores now sits on our fridge and we each have our respective tasks. I had all mine done before 7:35 yesterday morning and knowing that the bathroom (which was driving me nuts), was going to be taken care of the next day, allowed me a little peace of mind and a lot more time with my child to just chill and play with him without stress.

By the end of the week, every room has been hit once, if not twice. All the laundry is done and meals have been made and properly stored as leftovers or frozen for the future. We’ve only implemented this 1 week so far and it’s been a life-saver for both of us. SURPRISE! I haven’t been peeved like a manic mom because of it either!

Now…if we could just get our garbage man to stop leaving bright orange nasty notes to us every week when we tackle our clutter as we have more garbage bags than fit in our can, that would be nice. REALLY DUDE?!!?

We re-organized our master bath and everything is compartmentalized in it’s own place. It’s been so nice to not have to rifle through drawers and cupboards to find the simplest thing each morning. It sure makes wiping down the sinks daily a lot easier when there’s nothing on the counters. DUH, Courtenay.

So some day we’ll find a day off to get the bedroom closet taken care of, Evan’s closet cleaned out, our storage under the stairs organized, and the garbage man is just gonna have to chill his pants about the amount of bags we accumulate.

Do you have a daily cleaning list? Weekly cleaning list? What’s your biggest cleaning tip?

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Me-Time Monday #11

ANNNNNND I’m BACK!

I’m done with school. Like DONE. I earned my 2nd Health Coach certification this past Saturday. It’s kinda surreal. These last 3 months since I made the decision to pursue this new career path has been a giant whirlwind. I had my first day in almost 3 months where I wasn’t constantly moving this past weekend and I literally crashed. The second I completed my last Health Coach certification exam on Saturday, I went for a run. Runs usually energize me like a rabid energizer bunny, but instead I found myself collapsed in a heap on our couch, in my sweats, barely able to move.

I.am.exhausted.

Even though my Me-Time Monday posts haven’t made an appearance for the past couple of weeks, I’ve definitely still worked out 5-6 days a week, I kept up with all that good stuff, and have even made some amazing progress in that respect. I literally just did NOT have time to blog about it. I was at the gym most mornings on my days off from work by 6AM, pounding down some runs or work outs, and then immediately jumping into mommy mode/house cleaning maniac until my hubby got home at 4:45 and then immediately went into “student” mode studying until I went to bed. Every.single.day.

You should see my DVR. It’s insane how many shows are backed up on there…and let’s be clear that I don’t watch a bunch of TV (3 shows), but it’s looks like I watch 35 and it’s 95% full.

Blah blah blah. I’m blabbing about crap you don’t care about…and frankly stuff I don’t care much about either…like TV.

Here’s the plan for the week (and we’re going out of town Wednesday-Friday and I work Tuesday the entire weekend so this should be “fun”).

Monday 11/25:  3-mile easy pace run + core + leg strength

Tuesday 11/26: 30 minutes intervals on bike after work + core

Wednesday 11/27: 4-mile speedwork run + leg strength

Thursday 11/28: REST DAY (out-of-town)

Friday 11/29:  3-mile tempo run + leg strength + core

Saturday 11/30: REST DAY DUE TO WORK

Sunday 12/1: Body Pump DVD + core after work

People ask me all the time how I do it. How do I get my workouts in while working 13-hour shifts, taking care of my now-10 month old, and going to school. Simple – it’s a priority and I don’t make excuses. I get my butt out of bed before dawn and my husband takes care of our son as he knows it’s important to me to get my time in. It makes me a better wife. It makes me a better mother for my son when I work out, eat right and take care of my body and mind. It makes me a better person.

End rant. ;-)

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Mediterranean Quinoa Casserole

My mom handed me this recipe on Friday that she’d found and thought it would be something I’d like to try for my fam since she knows I’m a huge lover of the great and mighty QUINOA!

She was SO right. Everything about this meal was fab. It’s an excellent source of protein and carbs while saving you from the typical “casserole creams” of “cream of chicken/mushroom/celery” with using plain Greek Yogurt instead. Quinoa is a fabulous way to ensure you’re getting your fair share of Omega-3′s (the hardest essential fatty acid to fit in regularly for our body’s needs). Lentils are CHEAP and keep ya full cuz their packed full of nutrients and protein.

Try this casserole. Even if your fam has never touched quinoa in their lives and would be the type who would turn their noses at something “healthy,” give this a shot. I’m serious. Don’t even tell them what’s in it. They’ll love it. I swear.

So easy to make I had the whole shabang done in under an hour.

Mediterranean Quinoa Casserole
1 cup quinoa, soaked overnight & rinsed

1/2 cup lentils, soaked overnight &rinsed

1 large yellow onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 tbsp olive oil

1 1/2 cups of raw baby spinach, chopped

1 pint (2 cups) of grape tomatoes, halved

2 medium-sized eggs

1/2 cup plain, non-fat Greek yogurt

6 oz. crumbled feta cheese

1 1/2 tsp dried dill (I used dill weed)

1/4 tsp sea salt

pinch of black pepper

shredded parmesan (optional)

1. Place the pre-soaked quinoa in a pot with 1 1/2 cups water, bring to boil and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes or until the water has absorbed.

2. Place the pre-soaked lentils in a pot with 1 cup of water and also bring to a boil and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes.

3. Once they are done cooking, place them both in a large bowl and set aside.

4. Preheat the oven to 375 and warm the olive oil in a saute’ pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the spinach to the onions and garlic and cook for another 3 minutes.

5. While that is cooking, break open the two whole eggs in a separate bowl and add the Greek yogurt.

6. Mix them together well and then add the dill, salt and pepper.

7. After stirring seasonings in, add the crumbled feta and continue to stir until mixed well.

8. After the spinach mixture has cooked, place it in the bowl with the quinoa and lentils and toss in the halved grape tomatoes.

9. Add the wet ingredients to the bowl and stir everything together until well-combined.

10. Place ingredients into a large, greased casserole dish.

11. For a little extra cheesiness, I topped mine with a sprinkle of grated (but you can use the recommended shredded) parmesan cheese.

12. Bake in the oven for 35 minutes or until golden brown on top.

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Life is so much easier without a mobile child

Keepin it real, folks.

My kid is everywhere.

EVERYWHERE!

Life changed for us a few weeks ago when Evan all of sudden shot forward for the first time on his hands and knees. At first he was stuck sorta going backwards and now he can fly down the hallway faster than our cat.

He no longer likes to be “restrained” for longer than 5 seconds in his way-too-small bouncy seat or his exersaucer. It’s all about moving. He moves in his crib during nap time. He moves 24/7. Nap times no longer exist in our 9 month old world. It’s just way more exciting to shriek and jump and try to stand up in our crib.

Don’t get me wrong…It’s totally awesome that my dude is learning how to explore his world, but I think us mamas can all agree if they would just stop moving for even 20 minutes total a day, we’d all be a whole lot more thrilled about this developmental milestone.

I’ll admit, though, his excitement over moving definitely makes my heart smile; even in the midst of my sheer exhaustion.

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