Thankful

Trans Siberian Orchestra is pumping through my speakers, my homemade cranberry sauce is cooling in the fridge, and the smell of green bean casserole is wafting through the house on this beautiful Thanksgiving morning. I have about seven different tasks I need to tend to, which include getting showered to head over to my parents’ house for dinner, but I wanted to stop in and quickly chronicle all that I am grateful for this year.

It’s been a year of twists and turns as the place I was when the year started is vastly different from where I sit now, with only about 37 days left until 2016 is up.

I am grateful to have mustered up courage this year.
I had to defend my thesis for the MBA program, put myself out there for a job I wasn’t even sure I was qualified for, and walk away from certain things and people that I decided weren’t serving me anymore. It isn’t easy to decide to walk your own path, but I stepped out onto my own through redefining my priorities this year, and for that I am both proud of myself, and grateful to have done.

I am grateful for my faith.
I should’ve listed this first, and it’s pretty obvious for anyone who knows me that the aforementioned accomplishments I attribute first and foremost to the grace of God, but my faith carried me through some very difficult and testing times this year. I am so grateful to not resist Jesus, His calling to me, and His will.

I am grateful for my family.
We’re finally adding a new member…! My marriage is back on track! I have the most beautiful daughter imaginable! My parents are spectacular! Nuff said.

I am grateful for this blog.
I’ve ditched all other platforms of social media (more on that later) but this blog is and will always remain my greatest outlet for publicly sharing anything I want. It’s been my baby since my last few days as a 29 year old, and I’ve grown through having it. I love chronicling parts of my life journey here, not so much for people to read about (though I do adore all of my readers) but to have something to look back on later.

I’m also grateful for good food, which I will be chowing down on soon.🍗

Here’s to FOOD COMAS!!

Happy Thanksgiving 🦃

Quinoa Oatmeal Recipe

Quinoa oatmeal is one of my favorite dishes to eat for breakfast. it’s simple and nutritious and when made in large quantities can serve as a prepped breakfast item for the week.

quinoa oatmeal

Waking up in the morning just got a LOT more exciting!

Here’s my recipe:

Ingredients:

1/2 cup quinoa

1/2 cup steel cut oats (5 minute oats are good too!)

11/2 almond milk (I like vanilla flavor). You can simmer your quinoa in water too if you want, but it won’t be as flavorful. I

1 tbsp agave nectar

OPTIONAL 1 cup of fruit (I like to add chopped strawberries, blueberries, and/or raspberries)

Method:

1. Thoroughly wash your quinoa in a fine mesh strainer. Unless your quinoa package states that the contents has been washed, it should be cleaned! Your oatmeal should already be packaged clean.

2. Simmer your cup of oats and quinoa in the almond milk for approximately 20 minutes. If you decide to increase your quinoa amount, be sure to adjust your ratios of quinoa to liquid, and you’ll need to factor in more cooking time)

3. Your oatmeal is fully cooked when you notice the curled, bloated centers of each kernel of quinoa. Allow to slightly cool before topping with agave nectar and fresh fruit. Enjoy!

Creamy Cilantro Salad Dressing

I made a mixed greens salad with bell peppers, black beans, avocado, and shrimp mixed in. I decided to try my hand at a creamy dressing to go on it, and I made Greek yogurt the base and cilantro the flavoring. I apologize for not having a picture of the dressing itself on this post. The concoction I made included apple cider vinegar, which gave it an unappealing color. With white vinegar, the results will be better and more attractive. 🙂

Shrimp fiesta salad with black beans and avocado.

Shrimp fiesta salad with black beans and avocado.

Ingredients:

1TBS plain Greek yogurt

1TSP white vinegar

2TSP minced cilantro

1TSP kosher salt

1/2TSP chili powder

1/2TSP water

Mix your Greek yogurt, vinegar, and water first, then fold in the cilantro and other seasonings. The vinegar can probably be swapped out for fresh lime juice, achieving the same effect. I plan to try this next.

For added kick, sprinkle in some cayenne pepper, or a minced slice of jalapeño.

Why?

My upline coach and Beachbody mentor Laurel has been after me since I joined the team to really get down to the true reason for why fitness and nutrition are so important to me. She keeps pushing me to step outside of my comfort zone and show who I truly am, so I’m going to do my best.

Not every fitness story involves the loss of weight – Some involve the loss of a loved one.

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It’s March 25th, and this is normally a time of year when I am somber, miserable, weepy, and heartbroken. The reason why is because on March 29, 1991, my world was forever turned upside down when my mom’s mom, my beloved grandma, a woman who sat at the center of my 5 ½ year old universe, died. She contracted pneumonia and fluid filled her lungs. She left behind seven children and one grandchild. She was 57 years old. She was morbidly obese.

Try as I might, I cannot ever let go of the pain I connect to this time of year. We lost her over 20 years ago, but in many ways, it feels as if it was only yesterday. Perhaps that’s because I had to live with the aftermath of her passing. In the wake of her death, my grandfather, her widower, slipped into a depression. My mother, her only daughter, battled her own grief and frustration as she tried to find a way to still be a mom, wife, sister, and daughter to her remaining family members while also losing her best friend. There aren’t many women on my mom’s side of the family, so losing our matriarch was harrowing. I became forever scarred at a young age from her passing. It was a lot for my 5 ½ year old soul to carry.

It still is.

I celebrate her life as much as I can. There are photos of she and my grandfather on their wedding day hanging in my living room, and each September my mother and I commemorate her birthday together. However, I also carry an animosity, not towards her necessarily, but definitely towards her mindset. My grandmother made it her life to take care of others. She was an excellent mother to all eight of her kids. I don’t know how she did it, because I have my hands full with just my own daughter. She was a God-fearing woman who sang and clapped and lifted her hands in praise at church each Sunday while teaching lessons of virtue as written straight from the Bible. She was loving and caring. I still long for her soft, warm hugs on days when life overwhelms me. But she never thought to turn inward and do a few favors for herself.

I used to think, “If only she had gotten a gastric bypass…” or “If only we could’ve gotten her a nutritionist.” “If only she could have survived, we could have made things better after she came home from the hospital,” and “If only we could have made things different.” Now that I am a fitness coach, I think, “If only she could see me now…”

The truth is, I do this because I know what kind of damage poor health and obesity can cause. These are avoidable conditions, and I’ve watched them both rip my family apart. I love my grandmother very much (So much. SO much.) but I also think it’s unfair that she left us all to mourn her when we were most vulnerable. It’s selfish of me to say that, but in many ways, it was selfish of her to not take better care of herself for the sake of her family. Dying at the age of 57 is not a normal occurrence. It is not natural. That only happens when you have a serious health condition that debilitates you. A normal lifespan is much longer than 57 years…

So, as I settle into my official new title as coach, I am channeling my passion to see people turn off the path of poor choices for their health and jump onto the path of good nutrition and exercise. I do not want to build an army of terminators. I’m not looking to make anyone into a bikini model or iron man. However, if choking down some healthy greens and sweating it out three times a week keeps a middle aged man alive long enough to see his grandkids graduate from high school, then I’m ecstatic to have done my job. I will always love and miss my grandmother – to the point that it hurts me – but I am working to turn her painful death into a call to action for me and everyone else I meet.