My Health & Fitness Journey

I posted a short version of this on Instagram when it was the 2 year anniversary of this lifestyle change I made and thought I’d expand a bit, and hopefully inspire others to make changes in their life to get healthy and fit too!

2013: I made a choice to change my lifestyle in February with a goal to become the healthiest and fittest I’ve ever been by the age of 30 (May 2014). I knew I wanted to be healthier for myself and my family, so I started running regularly and my diet was overhauled. I said no to soda, artificial sweeteners and dyes, hydrogenated oils, GMO’s, and cut way back on processed foods. I went gluten free in March 2012, as it gives me congestion issues among other problems, so I had cut out a lot of garbage already. I finally started caring about what I ate instead of just caring about what I fed my family. This doesn’t mean I never have sweets though; I am human! They are just much less frequent. I started running regularly, but it didn’t come easy. I couldn’t run a mile without stopping when I began this journey. I was literally running for 30 seconds and then I’d walk for 10-15 seconds, and just kept doing that until I was cutting out more and more of the walk breaks. It was a slow and steady start.

4.26.14 - Country Music Half Marathon Finish Photo

4.26.14 – Country Music Half Marathon Finish Photo

2014: Before I knew it, I had completed my first half marathon in April. I’m not a “fast” runner, but I love the feeling I get from running. There just isn’t anything like it! And crossing that finish line was such a huge accomplishment for me, so I was thrilled! I was about 1 month from turning 30, and I definitely feel like I reached my goal. But, at that point I still had (and still do have) more fitness goals to fulfill. So, I’m continuing to stay active and eat well to be the healthiest and happiest me I can be. I find running to be a great stress reliever.

I started practicing yoga, spinning, or lifting weights on non-running days. Later in the year I bought my first road bike and bike trainer. I went from not doing much for physical activity to being so passionate about fitness over the course of a year or so. Running is what really got me into my other fitness interests.

2015: Finishing my first marathon was definitely one of my greatest personal achievements. There is a quote I came across during my training that said, “The person who starts a marathon is not the same person who finishes.” I know that that race changed me, as cheesy as that sounds. Not just the race, but the training. I feel like I am so much stronger, not just physically but mentally too. There were some really tough 6f8268930d8a8a21af7df488b77ab3ddtimes during training and during the race where I wanted to just be done. I wanted to give up. But I didn’t and now I know I can dig a little deeper when it gets rocky.

It’s been a great 2 years of positive change with some hard work and dedication! What’s next? In effort to avoid the “post marathon depression” I had heard about, I signed up for my first Sprint Triathlon as my next big challenge. I love the excitement of conquering something I once thought would be impossible! So for the next several months it’ll be swim, bike, run, swim, bike, run….all the way to the finish line! 🙂 Can’t wait! Until then, I’ll have a few shorter races I’m pretty excited about too.

Slow Cooker Enchilada Quinoa Bake

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Even if you normally don’t like meatless dishes, you should try this one! This is an excellent “Meatless Monday” dish. I’m not a fan of cooking grains (or grain-like) in the slow cooker because it generally takes longer than the recipes say. That was true for me in this case, but I added a bit more liquid and let it cook for a little longer and it turned out great!

Slow Cooker Enchilada Quinoa Bake – Yield: About 7 – 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp cooking oil of choice
  • 1 1/4 cups chopped yellow onion (1 medium)
  • 1 1/4 cups chopped red bell pepper (1 medium)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups dry quinoa
  • 2 1/4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can tomatoes with green chilies, undrained
  • 1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen organic corn
  • 1 1/2 cups cheddar or monterey jack, or Mexican blend cheese
  • For serving: Diced avocados, diced Roma tomatoes, chopped cilantro, lime wedges, chopped green onions (optional)

Directions

Heat canola oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and bell pepper and saute 3 minutes. Add garlic and saute 30 seconds longer. Pour mixture into a slow cooker. Stir in quinoa, vegetable broth, canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, chili powder and cumin and season wtih salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook on HIGH heat about 2 hours 45 minutes – 3 hours 15 minutes (cook time can vary because all slow cookers cook a little differently so just keep an eye on it near the end to make sure it’s neither getting soggy or drying out near the edges). Add corn, black beans and pinto beans and toss mixture. Even top then sprinkle with cheese. Cover and cook until heated through and cheese has melted about 10 – 15 minutes longer. Serve warm with desired toppings.

My Suggestions / Notes

  • Cooking oil – I used Kirkland’s Organic Coconut oil since it’s high heat safe, cold-pressed, un-refined, and non-GMO.
  • For the seasoning, I skipped the chili powder and cumin and used 2Tbsp + 1.5tsp of my homemade taco seasoning instead. It turned out super spicy, which my husband and I love! I would go with the original recipe or even a little less than what is called for if you don’t like spicy. I portioned out some and watered it down in a bowl and drained it to get rid of most of the spicy-ness for our daughter who loved it!
  • I thought I had some vegetable broth on hand and realized I was out after I dumped the peppers/onion/garlic into the slow cooker, so I just used water. With all the seasoning, I can’t imagine the broth would have added that much to it anyway. I’m sure I’ll be making it again though so I may try it with next time.
  • I skipped the cheese and thought the flavor was still great!
  • I cook dried beans and freeze them on parchment paper, then store in freezer bags until I need them. That way, I can just take what I need and they don’t all stick together when they freeze. I just took out the a can worth of each type of bean and added it to the slow cooker near the end of cooking and let them heat up.

Recipe from: Cooking Classy