A Lesson on Balance & Comfort – Brought to you by my crockpot.

For a while now I’ve been using my crockpot as storage. The most action it’s gotten in the past few months have been the bottom of miscellaneous stacked bowls. This also goes for my gym membership. For awhile, my $39.99 membership mine as well had been cash I dropped on the ground. I wasn’t going. I couldn’t get myself up to go before work, and couldn’t get myself to go after. I had been a morning person before, so I knew, eventually, I’d be back at it. But it took time. I am four months into my first big girl job and I have finally nailed down my schedule and daily routines. As I continue to get used to my new schedule, I’m slowly learning how to balance my time in order to keep a balanced diet and a balanced social life. I wasn’t really sure what clicked. It could have been seeing the dust on my crock pot, realizing that I don’t cook anymore. It could have been that I work for a denim company, and that denim was getting a little tighter as the holidays drew closer. It also could have been my swollen face from taking in way too much sodium, which made me realize I didn’t have to participate in every happy hour special, no matter how good $5 beers and half off nachos tasted. I realized I was missing this little thing called moderation, self discipline and general comfort in my clothing. In the past few years, I’ve gradually graduated from the phase of wanting to be a size 4, to focusing on comfort and overall health and happiness.

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So – I’ve laced up my shoes, given in to my alarm clocks, and made a few moderate changes that have gone a long way. My energy has already improved a long with my attitude. Results take time, but I feel them coming (I know, just in time for me to have four helpings of eggplant parmesan on Christmas). Sundays, for me, are crucial. As are my weekends. I have started to make the best out of my Sundays. I make sure to make a trip to the gym, whether it’s a good or bad workout, it’s a workout, and I always feel great after it. I make sure to not binge on fried food and carbs, and allow myself to eat something I love, in moderation, like the sushi roll and gluten free cookie I had yesterday. I grocery shop, make sure I’m outside even if it’s just a walk to the gym or store, and cook up some food for the week. The only thing I let myself binge on is Netflix. It is Sunday, after all.

I have been using my crock pot a lot recently. Meal prepping for the week has me in the kitchen like a spazz and using the crockpot has really calmed down the process. I throw a few different ingredients into my crockpot – leave it for a few hours – and there I have it. Dinner or lunch for every day of the week.

Chicken Chili Soup

Don’t worry – it tastes better than it looks. Confession – this wasn’t supposed to be a soup. I decided to wing it and threw the below ingredients into my crock pot. Though I was hoping for a chili, it turned out a bit soupy. (Is soupy a word?) It could have easily thickened over night / throughout the course of the day but for now – I’ll call it a soup. Update: It was perfect. Absolutely perfect. 

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1 lb. Chicken Breast
1 cup Chicken Broth (low sodium)
1 can Refried Black Beans
1/2 bag mixed veggies (carrots, peas, corn)

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Makes about 4 servings.

1 serving:
326 calories
6 g Fat
28 g Carbohydrates
38 g Protein
(6 g Fiber , 5 g Sugar)

Chicken & Vegetable Soup (with or without Rice)

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3/4 lb Chicken Breast
2 Cup Chicken Broth (low sodium)
1 bag mixed vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, corn)

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Makes 3-4 servings.

1 Serving:
254 Calories
3 g Fat
10 g Carb
35 g Protein

Optional: Make your soup into 4 servings and add rice. I cooked quinoa and brown rice and mixed it together – switching it up every now and then is important! (Recommended serving size – 1/2 cup cooked rice)

Advocare 24 Day Challenge & Easy Meals

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If you follow me on my other various social networks, you know that I have recently started the ADVOCARE 24 DAY CHALLENGE! How exciting. I’ve spent months and months wondering what the heck Advocare was, and thinking it was some silly little fad-diet where they tell you to eat nothing and go on a liquid diet and take fat burner pills etc etc etc. After a couple of phone calls with Drew, one of my crossfit coaches, he explained everything Advocare has to offer! On my own, I learned that Advocare sells quality products that are not only extremely reliable, but they WORK! I spent time going through personal Advocare success stories on the internet and other social networks, and decided that Advocare was just what I needed! Now that I have graduated college, I’ve decided it’s time to finally beat my plateau! It’s been about two years since I’ve been at my most comfortable weight, and I’m done with settling with the uncomfortable!

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So, it’s Day Two of the challenge and I’m already feeling great! The first ten days is the cleanse phase. I will do more updates as the days go on, as two days is almost too early to talk about too many results – but so far I’m feeling good! Today, I got a procedure done on my lower leg and have to lay low for a while. My doctor told me that I need to go two weeks minimum without workout out, and we will reevaluate then. Meanwhile, I need to wait one month until I squat, all so I don’t tear my stitches apart. I was pretty bummed out that this was all happening around the challenge. Though, I figure it’s a good sign because the challenge will keep me on track while I am not active! I hope to start working out my first weekend of work. I make the big move to NYC next week and I am so excited to start my internship. I’m hoping Advocare will help keep my energy high for those long work hours! Other than Advocare, I like to make sure that my food is also my fuel for the day. Here are a few meals I’ve had since I’ve started the challenge:

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1/2 Cup Quick Oats, microwaved for 2 minutes with 1 cup of Water. 1 Tablespoon Slivered Almonds. 1 Large Strawberry. 1 Cup Egg Whites, with some dollops of horseradish mustard & hot sauce!

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This was 1/4 cup (uncooked) Quinoa, 5 oz Ground Turkey, and 1 cup Mushrooms, 1/2 cup Zucchini, 1/2 Large Tomato, sautéed!

For lunch today, I had 3/4 cup Brown Rice, 6 oz Chicken Breast, 1 cup Mushrooms, 1/2 Large Tomato, and 2 tbsp Hummus! I wish I took a picture of that because it was delicious. The hummus was a perfect addition to my meal!

Stay tuned for more easy meal ideas and inspiration during my 24 Day Challenge!

Yours Truly,

Stef

 

Cookie Dough Quest Bar Cereal

If you haven’t realized, I’ve recently become an unofficial spokesperson for Quest Bars. I talk about them almost daily, I recommend them to those with a sweet tooth, and I just generally praise their existence. Almost as much as peanut butter, but that’s pushing it.

Okay, so Quest Bars are no chocolate lava cake, but they are the closest thing you will get to that while still keeping your diet clean. They don’t taste like any ordinary-100 ingredient list-high calorie-no protein-just carbs-diet bar. Each flavor tastes amazing, you almost feel like you’re cheating on your diet! But don’t worry, you’re not. Each Quest Bar has 160-190 calories, 4 net carbs, a ridiculous amount of fiber (rock on), and a weird amount of protein. Weird, as in freakin’ awesome, that is. Where does the protein come from? I’ll list the ingredients for the Cookie Dough Quest Bar, and then you’ll see.

-Protein Blend (Whey Protein Isolate, Milk Protein Isolate)
-Isomalto-Oligosaccharides (100% Natural Prebiotic Fiber)
-Almonds
-Water
– Unsweetened Chocolate
-Cocoa Butter
-Erythritol

It may look like I skimped on the ingredient list, but I’ll give you some proof.

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The first time I heard about Quest Bars I could have sworn they were going to taste like plastic. I got a Cinnamon Roll Quest Bar and ate it. It was delicious, but I was still not THAT impressed. Why was everyone raving about them? I then realized that my quest bar was practically frozen, so it was a little harder than it should have been. I put it in the microwave, and it’s all a blur from there.

Quest Bar Nutrition’s instagram posts 15 second recipe videos, which can also be found on youtube. I want to start trying almost all of them! Which takes me to my first experiment. Quest Bar Cereal. Who doesn’t love cereal? The other day I saw someone eating Reeses Cereal and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. My inner fat girl was crying to come out. Anywho, this happened:

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-1 Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Quest Bar
-1 Rice Cake
-1 Small Banana
-1/2 Cup Unsweetened Almond Milk

The instructions are also very simple. Set your oven to 350 degrees. Cut your Quest Bar into tiny pieces. I’d say bite size but, I take big bites. I cut my quest bar into pieces the size of peanut M&M’s (yum). Lay your quest bar pieces on a cookie sheet, or a piece of tin foil (I didn’t feel like doing dishes). Once your oven is preheated, put your quest bar in your oven and set your timer for 4 MINUTES. No more, no less. Once that 4 minutes is up, take out your quest bar and “stir”. Put your quest bar back in the over for another 4 MINUTES. No more, no less. Once my four minutes were up I put my quest bar pieces directly in the freezer for another four minutes. I chopped up my rice cake into cereal-like pieces, cut up my banana, and took my Quest Bar Cereal out of the freezer and added it to the bowl! Add your milk and enjoy 🙂 

Yours Truly,

Stef

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For a video of how to do this, click here!

Quick Meals & Sweet Snacks

Before you read; This post isn’t all about chicken. But naturally, I rant about it for a solid half hour.

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Chicken is a pretty touchy subject for those who eat it all the time. When I first started becoming more aware of my eating habits, my focus was mostly on counting calories. Chicken seemed to be something that fit my macros appropriately. I could also eat a larger portion of chicken for a lower amount of calories than, say, ground beef. I always favored chicken… chicken breast, chicken thighs. I’d have chicken for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Chicken for days. And I mean…DAYS. So here I am, making my grocery list, and realizing that I have to buy some chicken. Buzzkill of the century. It’s more the thought of chicken that’s been pissing me off. In reality, when I sit down and eat it, it’s not that bad. I go through stages with my diet. Sometimes my go-to is chicken and sometimes it isn’t. I realized it’s because I never really experimented enough with chicken. Pictured above is chicken I seasoned with Lemon Juice, Mrs. Dash Chicken Seasoning & Mrs. Dash Spicy Seasoning. The lemon juice adds some moisture to it, and the mix of seasonings keep it exciting.

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Pictured above is a dish that looks a lot more fancy that it is. It is, simply, 5 cups of Kale, 2 cups of Mushrooms, under 1 pound of chicken, seasoned with Lemon Juice & Mrs. Dash Chicken Seasoning.

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I cooked this dish on 400 degrees for I don’t know how long. Estimate 25-30 minutes. Depending on the intensity of your oven. Anywho, I cut the chicken up into slices, added more lemon juice, and put it back in the oven for another 5-10 minutes to ensure that the chicken was fully cooked. (I realize I need to start writing things down when I cook them so I don’t forget how to cook them. On my way to be the number one cooking blog in America..)

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I served my dish over a mixture of brown & wild rice and quinoa. It was very tasty and the chicken kept it’s moisture! Nobody likes dry chicken.

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This chicken dish was prepared in my cute little crockpot. I stared at my chicken for a solid ten minutes because I couldn’t figure out how to cook it and the last thing I wanted to do was cook these babies whole. Shredded chicken was my best bet. I put a pound and a half of chicken in my crock pot with 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth. I added Lemon Juice (obvi), Basil leaves, and Mrs. Dash Italian Blend seasoning. You haven’t lived until you’ve used Mrs. Dash Italian Blend seasoning… it’s a game changer. I let it cook on low for about 8 hours. I then changed it to warm and let it sit, which is something I’m never gonna do again because it wasn’t nearly as juicy as it should have been. So, next time, I’ll probably cook it on high for about 5 hours max and take it out. In the middle of the day, I slowly started shredding the chicken. Once it was cooked through, I shredded it completely and let it sit. The flavor was perfect but the chicken was slightly overcooked. I think I’m gonna try again today. I would have taken pictures of the finishing project but it was gone in 60 seconds or less. I’ll document when I’m more successful.

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Oh, tilapia. I have the same opinion about tilapia as I do with chicken. I cooked 7 ounces of Tilapia in Mrs. Dash Italian Blend seasoning and lemon juice. I put my tilapia over sliced celery, and a delicious slaw I’ve been buying from Kroger! I added lemon juice, hot sauce and horseradish mustard to the top and mixed it like a salad. It was delicious! I’ve been doing this with my tuna, too. The slaw adds a perfect crunch!

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I cooked about 3 pounds of Ground Turkey meat with Lemon Juice, Basil Leaves and a blend of italian seasonings that my mother gave me while I was home last weekend. The seasoning is delicious and has no sodium! Pictured above is just 6 oz of Ground Turkey with asparagus and carrots. I added hot sauce to my ground turkey. Perfectly portioned meal. Meat & veggies, you can’t go wrong!

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Pictured above is the same ground turkey meat I cooked, over rice and veggies, and a little bit of Mia’s Basil Marinara sauce! This meal gave me my italian fix, without the splurge! This was about 6 oz Ground Turkey, 3/4 cup rice, and two cups veggies! When I eat rice I typically eat 1/2 cup (measured cooked) brown rice.

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Onto some more “sweeter” options. Everybody likes a sweet every now and then. We’re only human. Sweet potatoes aren’t exactly a “sweet”, but they taste like candy when cooked to perfection! I turn my oven on 400 degrees and let my sweet potato sit for about an hour. I take it out when it starts oozing. (Oozing? Ew.) I haven’t made sweet potatoes in awhile, but I’m back on that bandwagon.

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Rice cakes have been my go-to snack lately. It may be one of those obsessions that I will soon get tired of, but right now I’m on a roll. I have been limiting my nut butter to, barely, twice a week. Rice cakes are also a great snack choice when eating nut butter because you are less likely to overeat. I just spread one tablespoon of nut butter on one rice cake, add some jelly, and I get my peanut butter and jelly fix! I haven’t been eating nut butter because it is so easy to overeat. You’d be lying if you said you’ve never sat there with a spoon and your jar of peanut or almond butter. Once I stop eating nut butter for a week or two, I stop craving it. Allowing myself to have it every now and then keeps me disciplined. I know I can eat it, but the less I have it, the more likely I am to have it in moderation. Portion control.

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I might do a whole blog post about Quest Bars, so I’m going to keep this light. This is a Cinnamon Roll Quest Bar, baked in the oven on 350 for 6 minutes, with 1 tbsp Nut Butter & 1 tbsp Jelly on top. I’d talk about it, but all you have to do is look, and you get the picture.

IMG_5296Last but not least… Cucumbers? As many of you know, there is a huge community of “fitness freaks” on the social media site, instagram. #FitFam #EatClean #InstaFit I recently saw someone post a bowl of cucumbers with…cinnamon? I thought it was weird, but then I heard from a friend how delicious it really was. So I cut up my cucumbers, added cinnamon and liquid stevia, and holy crap it was good!

As you can see, all of these meals are very healthy, easy, and diet friendly! Eating healthy doesn’t have to be a chore. It can be fun! You just have to get in the right mindset and you’re halfway there. Enjoy!

Yours Truly,

Stef

A Foodies Tour: Wilmington, North Carolina

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Last weekend I spent a WONDERFUL weekend in the beautiful town of Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. My best friend Casey is a senior at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and a visit was long overdue! Casey is lucky enough to go to a beautiful school, surrounded by amazing places for food & drink, and not to mention, the beach! I thought it’d be fun to document as much of the food as possible! As many of you know, I’ve been trying to diet, but this was one trip I was willing to splurge for! Our friend, Jenna, goes to school at High Point University, so she came a long for the trip as well! Not only do the three of us love each other, but we love food. Casey, Jenna and I also have a love for natural foods. Farm to table restaurants are a favorite of ours. We love finding delicious restaurants where we know the food they are serving us are natural, organic, whole foods! Though we all love to splurge on lifes greatest temptations, like tequila shots and pizza, we are great at finding a balance between health and fun. Before I send you on this tour, I’d like to thank Casey for an AMAZING trip in Wilmington/Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. No wonder she never comes home to Maryland during breaks, I’d go back in a heart beat!

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Okay, I know what you guys are thinking. This looks disgusting… I know. I thought I’d include my last Tupperware meal before my flight to Wilmington. This was tuna with mustard and rice cakes. I love this meal, sue me.  After four hours of traveling, between two flights and layovers, I arrived in Wilmington starving! Luckily, Casey was also ready to smash some food, we chose sushi, white girl problems.

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A staple at any sushi restaurant is the Edamame. Extra salty, or no salt at all, edamame is delicious! I do have to say, the salt helps 🙂

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And welcome to sushi heaven. I thought I’ve enjoyed sushi before, but these rolls surpassed all expectations. I had to double up on Gluten & Dairy digestive enzymes, but luckily they provide Gluten Free Soy Sauce for rolls. No surprise here, Casey and I finished all three rolls. This usually isn’t such a challenge but these rolls were huge.

King Kong Roll

Red Snapper and Avocado Cooked Tempura Style, Topped with Spicy Tuna, Scallop, Crab, Crunchy, Scallion, Masago and Special Sauce

Ninja Roll

Tuna, Salmon & Avocado Topped with Scallop, Crab, Crunchy, Orange Sauce & Eel Sauce

Hurricane Roll

CA Tempura Roll Topped with Spicy Tuna, Scallion and Eel Sauce

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Epic Food Co. 

Epic Food Co. serves up a Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner menu. They serve flavorful dishes to fit your dietary needs, as there are many gluten free and vegan options. They have perfect portion sizes, and you leave feeling satisfied, not stuffed! There are many great things on the menu, a long with an option to make it “Your Way”. Casey and I chose to make our own fresh bowl!

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Caseys bowl consisted of Brown Rice, Chicken, Sprouts, Spinach, epic PICO, and veggie sauté. Casey chose the Avocado Chile Lime dressing as her sauce, on the side.

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My bowl consisted of Brown Rice, Chicken, Spinach, epic PICO, basil, and veggie sauté. I followed in Casey’s foot steps and got the Avocado Chile Lime dressing, on the side.

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Casey and I both got ourselves a side of freshly homemade sweet potato chips! I can’t explain how delicious these were, you’ll have to try them out for yourself.

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Epic does a great job in guaranteeing fresh ingredients and great service. They also include the nutritional values on the Epic menu, or the menu that is already created for you if you don’t choose to make it Your Way. The food tasted fresh and healthy, it was a delicious meal without the splurge! And well deserved after Casey and I hit the gym right before this meal 🙂

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After touring Wilmington & Wrightsville Beach for a bit, it was time to make dinner! We spent the day checking out local markets and picking up delicious ingredients for our homemade dinner we were planning that night! We picked up most of our ingredients at Trader Joes. Not to mention, my new favorite sparkling white wine! (I totally forget what it’s called, I’ll have to stalk Trader Joes next time)

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We made 1 pound of Gluten Free Brown Rice pasta!

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Mixed with 1 pound of White Ground Turkey meat! Seasoned with oregano, garlic, minced onion, italian seasoning, and salt and pepper!

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While that was cooking, we made a small antipasta to hold us over. I live for antipasta. Olives, salami, pepperoni, capicola. All that’s missing is cheese and crackers! Man, I miss mozzarella. #DairyFreeProblems

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Our pasta dish was amazing! The sauce we used was a Basil Marinara from Trader Joes. We had enough to hold us over, and then it was time to hit the town!

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Casey took us out to the beach bars for some drinks and yes, there was dancing! This lucky girl lives right near the beach, just over the bridge and down two blocks!

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We spent Saturday a little tired & drowsy, but we made it to the beach. It was a beautiful day, just not nice enough for bathing suits! After a long day of walking, beaching, and mostly napping, it was time to celebrate National Margarita Day! Casey works at On The Border and they were having $1 Margaritas! We started with happy hour there. Guacamole live was a necessity! We finished the night at Tower 7, Casey’s favorite place for Mexican food & Margaritas! I got the steak fajitas. We all cleared our plates and were home by 9 for a much needed nights sleep!

The Basics

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On Sunday, Jenna headed back to High Point University after a delicious brunch at The Basics. The Basics is in downtown Wilmington, which is an adorable and quant part of Wilmington! Casey got the Quiche special, which looked delicious!

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I got the Carolina Cobb Salad, without blue cheese. I saw someone eating this when I walked in and it looked so fresh so I had to get it!

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Jenna got the Spinach Feta Grill. I was so jealous! This meal was a thick cut toasted baguette with poached eggs, creamy spinach, artichoke and feta. Biscuit on the side, of course!

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We spent the next few hours at Port City Java, where scenes from We Are the Millers was filmed! Jenna left us to do homework. I, unfortunately, had a paper to write, and Casey had some exams to study for. After our homework was finished, we went on a run and got ready to go to the airport for my 5 o’clock flight back to Ohio!

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The struggle is usually so real at places like airports for people with “dietary needs” like me. Luckily, Wilmington had a local eatery right in it’s airport! The women who helped me explained where their meat was from, and that it had no fillers! I got a burger with onions and mushrooms over lettuce. I covered that thing in ketchup, as if we’re surprised.

I hope you enjoyed my food review on Wilmington & Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina! Stay tuned for a Foodies Tour of New York City after my trip this weekend!

Yours Truly,

Stef

A CrockPot Mishap

My CrockPot Mishap

I wanted to make some sort of delicious crockpot recipe but then I remembered that I am unfortunately not Juli Bauer. I also wanted to keep it as “clean” as possible. I threw some stuff together and this is what happened. It turned into a half soup half chili type situation, but it was seriously delicious!

✔️2 Pounds Ground Turkey
✔️2 Cups Kale
✔️1 Pepper (I used 1/2 Red, 1/2 Yellow)
✔️1 Cup Chicken Broth
✔️3 Chopped up Garlic Cloves
✔️Lemon Juice, Mrs. Dash Italian Medley, Basil

Put your ground turkey into your crockpot, add the Kale, peppers, seasonings, garlic & broth! One step process, people. You’ve got this. I served myself about 1.5 cups of this recipe over 1/2 cup of Brown & Wild rice.

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Yours Truly,

Stef

Top of the Months Transformation: RJ Murray!

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Introducing: RJ Murray
I couldn’t think of a better person to be a part of my Top Transformation posts! RJ Murray and his family have been close family friends to us since I can remember, as they live right behind us! Our whole community is in awe of RJ’s transformation and are so proud of the athlete that he turned into while playing college football! RJ has always been a great, kind, and caring person, but it is amazing to see him grow into a healthier version of that! He was patient in his journey, as that six pack didn’t take a few months! Check out what RJ has to say about his journey, it is truly inspiring!
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Give me a brief summary of yourself and your journey.
My name is R.J. Murray and I’ve lived in Columbia, MD my whole life. I’ve always been on the bigger side and was honestly accepting of the fact up until college.  In high school, I continuously made excuses for myself saying that I was “big for football” or giving some other sport related justification as to why my weight was out of control.  At some point or another, I actually started believing my own excuses and completely let myself go.  Once college hit, athletics became a huge part of my life.  I played football for Salisbury University and the experience helped me drastically through the process of making a lifestyle change.  My senior year of high school I weighed nearly 260lbs with an outrageous BFP. (body fat percentage) After graduating high school in 2008, I decided it was time to make a change.  In a matter of 6 months in 2009, I lost nearly 60lbs of excess weight while adding a good deal of muscle.  That being said, a true transformation takes years – it takes much longer than 6 months and certainly doesn’t happen overnight.  I continued playing football, working out, conditioning, and most importantly – dieting to this day and have seen great results.
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What changes did you make to your diet in the beginning to get you where you are today?  And what does your current diet look like?
In the beginning, start slowly eliminating destructive habits and foods.  It should be easy to justify not eating out.  You’re not only getting healthier, but also saving money.  It’s important to make a plan.  Pick a diet and only buy what’s necessary for the week when you go to the grocery store.  This should also save you money by eliminating waste and unnecessary snack foods.  Just as in exercising, the results of dieting don’t show overnight.  It takes time – if it was easy we’d all look like Greg Plitt or Lazar Angelov. Put in the work, stay committed, and reap the results! 
My current diet:
Meal 1: 8 oz. griller sirloin steak, ½ cup dry oats ( ½ scoop whey protein, ½ banana, 1 tsp. coconut oil, 1 tbs peanut butter, 1 tsp. instant espresso, 1 tbs. cinnamon), ½ cup blueberries
Meal 2: 8oz baked/grilled chicken breast, ½ cup brown rice or 6oz (½) baked sweet potato, 1 cup steamed green beans, hot sauce
Meal 3: 1 scoop whey protein, ½ cup raw almonds
Meal 4: 8oz baked/grilled chicken breast, ½ cup brown rice or 6oz (½) baked sweet potato, 1 cup steamed green beans, hot sauce
Meal 5: 6oz broiled salmon, 1 cup green beans
Meal 6: (Pre-workout) 1 scoop whey protein, 1 banana
Meal 7: (Post-workout) 1 scoop whey protein, 1 cup dry oats or 1 scoop carbogain, 1 scoop glutamine, 1 scoop hydrolyzed BCAA’s.  45 minutes later: ½ lb. bison burger, 1 Ezekiel English muffin, 2 tbs. reduced sugar ketchup, 1 cup steamed broccoli.
Meal 8: 1 scoop whey protein, 8 egg whites, ¼ cup minced peppers and onions
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Rj’s new lifestyle had made him so much happier as a person. He looks forward to working out and it gives him goals for the day. It also has made him more organized. His ability to stay in control and stick to his diet is really inspiring. -Cara Murray
What were your goals?
Short term:  I wanted to be a better athlete.  I wanted to play football and be the best that I could be.
Long term:  I wanted to be healthy… I’m certainly not genetically gifted in the health and fitness department which makes working harder that much more important.  Working out is more than just enhancing appearance; it’s about living a healthy life.
What do you do for exercise?
I use a mix of weight training (power lifting/bodybuilding/crossfit), cardio/conditioning, and sports.
When did you decide to change your life and what motivated you the most?
As I mentioned in the summary, after graduating high school in 2008, I decided it was time to make a change.  In a matter of 6 months in 2009, I lost nearly 60lbs of excess weight while adding a good deal of muscle.  That being said, a true transformation takes years – it takes much longer than 6 months and certainly doesn’t happen overnight.  I continued playing football, working out, conditioning, and most importantly – dieting to this day and have seen great results.
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What is the best advice you can give to those who have similar goals (or personal goals in general) in mind?  What do you think is the main reason why some people find it so hard to reach goals such as the one you achieved?
Don’t make excuses for yourself.  If you want to see results, you have to put in the work. Nothing is more irritating than hearing someone say that “its genetics” or “it’s impossible.”  To be honest, either is an embarrassing lie.  The real reason is because you play x-box 6 hours a day, you and the guy at the drive-through window of Wendy’s are on a first name basis, and you’re lazy and uncommitted.  Get off your ass and do something… It doesn’t matter what; just get up and do something – anything.  Change your diet slowly.  Adjust your body to natural, wholesome foods and get rid of processed junk.  Stay on the outskirts of the grocery store and force yourself to work with the ingredients you find there.  If you don’t go through the aisles, the temptation won’t be there.  Every 3 or 4 weeks, change everything… workout routines, diet, etc.  Find what works for you and even when you find it, change it and come back to it… Introduce your body to new things.
What (and who) helped you the most through the process of bettering yourself?
When you’re in the process of making a serious lifestyle change, family and friends are always the first to support you.  Following suite, my family and friends were extremely supportive and helpful throughout the process.  That being said, when going through the process of turning a “health kick” into an actual life style it directly boils down to how interested you are in bettering yourself.  The support and help comes from your personal dedication, motivation, and discipline as the one experiencing the changes.  Use your support for yourself as a main source of motivation and feed from help and support that your friends and family give.  If I had to pick something that directly helped me the most, it would be football.  Playing football through high school; and more specifically, college, kept me active and focused.
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How has your life changed since you reached your goals?
Generally, I’m the same guy that I have always been… Obviously, there have been some physical changes such as energy levels and appearance; but the biggest change is the drive to wake up in the morning with a purpose. Always look to better yourself in every way possible.  This lesson extends further than just the weight room or football field but can be applied to every aspect of life whether it is work, hobbies, relationships, etc. Wake up with a purpose and be the best you can be!
What are you going to do (now that you’ve reached success) to maintain your progress?
If you keep the outlook that you never reach success and always strive to be better than you were the day before, you’ll never have the chance to settle.  Settling is one of the worst things you can do in any situation.  Always push yourself to the next level.  I plan on continuing weight training and conditioning as well as dieting appropriately to reach whatever goals I have at the time; waking up with a purpose and aiming to get better every single day.

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Yours Truly,

Stef