Best Friends Forever…For REAL!

If you know me well, you’re either one of the ladies in these pictures, or you know that these are some of my favorite people in the whole world.  This post is dedicated to them.

I have known a few of them since I was about 4 years old, in preschool.  Others I met along the way, but we’ve all been friends for at least 30 years.  That’s crazy right!?  I am so lucky to have these wonderful girls in my life, I literally thank my lucky stars for them every day.  When I am with them, I am all me.   There’s no need to pretend to be anything else, because they would know better anyway.  I can count on them to be there in the best of times and the absolute worst of times. And Lord knows we’ve had our shares of both!  

I look so forward to the times we spend together.  We’ve had a lot of adventures.  Our most recent adventure was a 40th birthday celebration trip to Jamaica. Despite the unfortunate snorkeling incident it was the most fun I’ve had in…well…honestly, I’m not sure I’ve ever laughed that hard for that long!  Talk about an ab workout: four solid days of giggling!  Sure, the all-inclusive trips to the bar might have played a role, but I think we’d all like to think that we were the funniest 8 ladies that ever stepped foot on the island.

We go camping with our whole families every summer, and it’s such a blast the kids start counting the days til we go again the very day that we get home.  Our husbands might have a different analysis of the annual camping trip, but they are good sports about it, because they know how important it is to us.  

When I decided to take up this new fitness business, guess who were the first to congratulate me, offer support and ask for my advice?  As a result, 6 of us are embarking on a 30 day fitness challenge together, along with some other amazing  friends and family members. I know that with support from each other…success is not only possible, but inevitable.   And when it happens (not if it happens) there will be great joy and celebration!  In other words…party!  Which means…I’ll get to hang with my bff’s very soon!

These ladies are blessings in my life.  I feel so lucky, at my young age :), to be in such a great place in my life right now.  This fitness business has really made me sit back and take stock of who I am, who I want to be, where I am and how I made it here.  I made it here with a little help from my friends…no doubt about it.  And not a day goes by that I don’t think of them and appreciate them for the impact they’ve had on my life.  I love them as dearly as you could love a friend.  And now I’m feeling a little weepy, and oh…here come the tears…

Do you have a best friend, how bout 8? Call one or two today, and tell them how much they mean to you.  Grab the tissues first.  🙂

Crock Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup

Here I am posting another soup recipe.  We love this one, too!

 

Crockpot Chicken Tortilla Soup

  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 can of tomatoes (diced/stewed)
  • 1 can enchilada sauce (med/mild)
  • 1/2 C. diced onions
  • 1 chopped jalapeno (or any hot pepper…to your taste) OR  1- 4 oz. can diced chili peppers (if you want it milder)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 4 C. chicken broth
  • 1 t. cumin
  • 1 T. chili powder
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 C. black beans
  • 10 oz. package frozen corn
  • 6 corn tortillas
  • 1 T. olive oil

*optional extras for garnish:  lime juice, cilantro, diced avocado, shredded cheese, sour cream

Directions

  1. Place chicken, tomatoes, enchilada sauce, onion, hot pepper/green chiles, and garlic into a slow cooker. Pour in chicken broth, and season with cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper, and bay leaf. Cover, and cook on Low setting for 6 to 8 hours or on High setting for 3 to 4 hours. *Sometimes I put the chicken in frozen, in that case I add a little time.  During the last 30-60 minutes (when you get home from work) shred chicken, then add corn and beans (rinsed and drained).
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  3. Lightly brush both sides of tortillas with oil. Cut tortillas into strips, then spread on a baking sheet.
  4. Bake in preheated oven until crisp, about 10 to 15 minutes. To serve, sprinkle tortilla strips over soup.
  5. Serve with garnishes of choice.  Enjoy!

21 Day Fix containers: (1/5 cup serving)

1/2 RED 1/2 GREEN 1/2 YELLOW *Don’t forget to count the toppings!

What’s on sale this month?!

Upcoming Groups!

Realistic Goals

So a very good friend of mine is getting set to begin a 30 day fitness challenge that we set up.  She’s nervous.  She’s afraid she’s going to sabotage herself, as she says she’s done before when she realizes she just doesn’t think it’s possible to EVER reach her goals.  Well here’s why:  her goal is to be “thin”.

What’s wrong with that goal you ask?  Well…listen…there’s a better goal to have, and if you trust me, you’ll see it’s better than “thin” or “skinny”.  Those are simply unrealistic, unhealthy goals to have when you’re starting your journey.  Aim for fitness, and aim for health.  That’s it!  Make it a daily effort, for the rest of your life; not a 30 day challenge…and then back to where you were before.  See every day as a new opportunity to make better choices, and before you know it, it’ll be your habit.  It’s not going to happen overnight for sure!  But once your mind is on board, your body will start to notice.

We all have very busy lives.  We all have the same number of hours in a day.  We all have the same choices at the grocery store.  Make health and fitness a priority in your life, and you’ll start to make choices that will make you stronger and more resolute each day.  You might need to wake up a little earlier (I’m still working on this one myself).  You might need to plan your meals ahead.  Your health is important, right?  It’s worth the effort right?  Keep in mind that you’re not going to change in leaps and bounds…it’s going to take baby steps.  All the little things you do will add up and they’ll change you.

Aim for strength, both mental and physical.  They sort of go hand in hand.  Once you see yourself becoming stronger, you begin to feel stronger.  Once you feel stronger, you realize…it’s not about being thin, or skinny.  It’s about being your best you.  You’ll be proud, satisfied and confident.  ‘Strong’ looks different on everybody, but it looks perfect!

Dear Johnny and Andy,

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but those names you called me back in high school…kinda left a mark.

High school can be hard enough as it is.  It’s the time when we’re trying to figure out where we fit in, who we are, how we see ourselves.  Body image is such a big part of that, probably a little more so for girls than boys.  No matter what your insecurities are, when a name is given to them, by your peers…it just confirms them, and hits you where it hurts.

I was skinny, gawky, and awkward in high school.  I had short hair (sometimes), and hadn’t quite yet “developed” (if you know what I mean).  As a result, I was given a few nicknames that weren’t so very flattering.  I was called:  “floor-boards”, “chicken legs” and my least favorite…”boy-girl”.  REALLY?!  I had a thick skin and a good sense of humor…but still!  Nobody wants to be the butt of someone’s mean-spirited jokes.  I imagine there are worse names to be called, but those were mine.  And I didn’t like them one bit.

Nowadays we hear so much about bullying- both cyber and actual.  There are always going to be jerks and name-callers.  I’m sure they’re dealing with their own insecurities, and this is the way they deflect attention from themselves, perhaps. Either way…moving beyond the names is a challenge.  I have always been very self conscious.   I hate mirrors.  I don’t really like to have my picture taken, etc.  But I feel like it’s getting better.  I’m really pushing myself out of my comfort zone these days, and I’m breaking down some of those poor self-images.  It’s amazing how much better you begin to feel about yourself, when you’re focusing on helping others.

It also helps that my sweet husband said this in regards to my high school nicknames the other day:  “Man, I really gambled on you back then.  I’d say I had 20 to 1 odds that you’d turn out so good-looking (with nicknames like that).  I guess when you gamble big, you win big.”  He was being funny of course.  I think he liked me just the way I was…even back then, chicken legs and all.  🙂

So there!  Take that Andy and Johnny!

Find a Reason

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4 My Dad

In October, two years ago, I ran the Chicago Marathon for the 4th time.  It was my slowest time, but the best run of all.  I approached the whole training season a little differently than I ever had before.  I wasn’t planning to run at all, having recently sprained BOTH of my ankles.  Despite lots of physical therapy, I just didn’t think they’d hold up through all training and the marathon itself.  And then I got a phone call that changed all of that.  I found out that my dad had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.  I was shocked, sad and scared.  What can you do when you get news like that?  Well…you could freak out!  You could donate money.  For me, the first thing that popped into my head was to run the marathon (on 2 bad ankles), rally support from friends and family for my dad, and raise some money for Michael J. Fox’s Parkinson’s research foundation (a.k.a. TeamFox).  It made sense in my head.

So training was interesting with the ankles, and even more interesting given that it was a REALLY hot summer and my asthma decided to kick into high gear.  Yikes!  I approached every run totally differently than I ever had before.  I started leaving my Garmin (gps) at home, and just went out there to focus on WHY I was doing it.  My reason was bigger than my ankles, bigger than my asthma, and bigger than me.  I focused so much on that reason, that the rest didn’t matter.  I had four months of training to really think, and come to terms with my dad’s diagnosis.  I dealt with a lot of emotions and feelings.  Anyone who runs knows that it sort of becomes a form of therapy.  I needed that.  Don’t we all!?

So marathon day came.  I had no garmin, no watch, somewhat healthy ankles and TWO inhalers!  It was another hot marathon day.  Ugh.  Despite using my inhaler every 20-30 minutes, I made it!  It wasn’t a personal record, by any stretch of the imagination, but it was a personal triumph.  Again, I thought of my dad and my reason for the entire race.  This was the culmination of all of my hard work and therapy!  I felt awesome!  People commented on the message I had Sharpied on my legs and cheered me on.  My reason carried me through, and reaching the finish line was sweeter than ever, despite it being my slowest time.  I felt good!

I have a new goal now, a new reason.  It’s bigger than me!  I feel good knowing that friends and family members are joining me on my new mission!  Health & fitness can be contagious.  I highly recommend getting this bug, it’ll make you feel good.  And feel free to infect other people, they’ll thank you for it later. 🙂

Sausage Tortellini Soup

 

This is probably one of my favorite soups of all time! I typically make mine with sweet Italian turkey sausage, but you could use pork, or spicy or whatever you like!

I’ve used whole wheat tortellini, frozen, and fresh. You just need to adjust cooking time according to the directions on the package. Since it’s added at the end, that’s easy to do.

You can leave out the wine, add more broth instead, or water. Sometimes a add a little more broth at the end to achieve the amount of brothiness that we like! 🙂 As you can see…this recipe can be modified to your taste.

Ingredients:

  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 pound Turkey Sausage
  • 1 small chopped onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 5-6 cup broth (vegetable, beef or chicken would work)
  • 1/2 cup red wine (or more broth)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 1/2 T. basil
  • 1/2 t. oregano
  • 1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 cup sliced zucchini or squash (or both)
  • 1 pkg. tortellini (mine is 9 oz.)
  • 2 T. chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 cups baby spinach

Directions

1.  In a large pot (dutch oven), heat oil, add sausage and brown.  Remove from pot, reserving 1 tablespoon of drippings.

2. Saute onion, garlic and carrots.  Stir in broth, water, wine, tomatoes, basil, oregano, tomato sauce and sausage.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat: simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.

3. Stir in zucchini/squash and parsley.  Simmer covered for another 20-30 minutes.  *Add the tortellini the last 10 minutes.  Add spinach at the very end.   Sprinkle a little Parmesan on each serving.   Makes about 8 servings.

WHAT’S NEW THIS MONTH?

My Mom was a Health-nut BEFORE it was Cool!

I used to get irritated with my mom when she would pack me a whole wheat bread sandwich, an apple and a bag of carrot sticks for lunch.  Especially when my friends sitting next to me had their Wonder bread, factory bag of chips and Twinkies.  It was hard to be me, or so I thought.  At home it was the same.  Ask my mom today, and she’ll tell you that you have to have something green with every meal.  This is how I was raised, and it has stuck with me!  She was and IS a very health-conscious person.  Both of my parents were pretty active when I was a kid.  My mom did some running and a few 5K’s .  My dad would get on these kicks where he’d ride his bike for several hours and come back to swim some laps.  He would play catch with me in the yard, etc.  I think these things shape us as kids.  I’m trying to do the same with my four kids, as much as possible.  They see me and my husband working out and making health a top priority in our lives.  I hope it will be for them, and their kids, too.  And so on.

I mean…look at these 2!  They are in their 60’s!Image

Breakfast of Champions!

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This is one of many variations of my favorite breakfasts.  When I’m not having Shakeology for breakfast (I’ll probably have it for lunch today) I like to scramble myself a couple of whole eggs plus 2 extra whites (more protein) and top them with a little organic spinach, some tomatoes (these are heirloom CSA tomatoes) and a spattering of reduced fat cheese.  This particular meal was completed by a heel of whole wheat toast leftover from my kids’ breakfast (couldn’t let it go to waste!).  

It Can Be Done!

You can have your vacation and your workout, too!  Found a Bow Flex, a 30 pound dumbbell, a 12 pound medicine ball and some perfect push-ups in my friend’s basement.  Add that to a power-walk to the post office with a bff…and my workout is checked off for today!  Yay me! 

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