Meal Prep Sunday: Soup Season

Hey all! It is getting colder here in the Chicago land area, and that means that it is time for warm lunches! Most of my lunches I need to microwave, but now I want something that will really warm me up. I am always always cold! Another reason I want soup is I have fallen victim to fall cold season. As a teacher, with a horrible immune system, I am always waiting for cold season to pounce. These past two weeks have been a combination of allergies and a cold making it hard to breathe. My workouts have not been…well anything, but my meals have been okay. I am hoping some yummy, warm soup will help me get back to close to 100%.

I wanted to use my Instant Pot again to get more comfortable with it. It is truly amazing how quick this thing is! This soup, from start to finish was about 30 minutes and consisted of just using the Instant Pot, cutting board, knife, & peeler. Also, the ingredients were easy! All you need is turkey or pork sausage (I opted for lean turkey sausage), kale, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, and an onion. I had the rest of the ingredients in my pantry. I love the fact that I could brown the sausage in the Instant Pot and then just add the rest of the ingredients. It has made meal prepping easier, which is always an awesome thing.

I am excited to try this soup tomorrow from Wholesomelicious and start soup season! I was able to portion out 8 about 1.5 cup servings for lunches. I also have baby carrots packed in baggies ready to grab and go. Something I struggle with is wasting time in the morning portioning out my snacks. I realized an easy fix is to portion out my carrots on Sunday, and then all I have to do is cut an apple in the morning. I have everything on one shelf, so I can make it as easy as possible on myself in the morning when I’m not functioning completely. Meal prepping gets easier, and you slowly get better at it. I am still figuring it out and making improvements.

20171029_204615

I can’t wait to try more soups and other creations in my Instant Pot! I have seen some yummy recipes full of veggies and super foods. Do you have any favorite Instant Pot recipes I should try?

Here’s to being happy & fit,
Victoria

Meal Prep Sunday: Double Edition

If you didn’t already know, I am a fifth grade teacher. This upcoming week happens to be parent-teacher conferences! This means that I am at school from when I get there in the morning (normally 7:30) to 8pm at night. Instead of giving myself the chance to order something unhealthy, I decided to prep lunch and dinner this week. This will also give my husband some dinners while I am gone so he doesn’t get tempted to order something either!

I had a craving for white chicken chili. I am not sure why especially since I have never had it before, but whenever I see it, white chili looks so good! I searched Pinterest and found this recipe that looked delicious from Averie Cooks. I also liked it because it gave me a chance to bust out my Le Creuset, the wedding gift that I really wanted, but seldom use. Luckily, it is beginning to be soup season, so I will be changing that! Back to the chili…I followed the recipe exactly, except for the part where I started to burn the onions because I was too busy shredded chicken…so don’t do that! This recipe was pretty simple once you read the ingredient list a few times, at first it seems pretty long, but a lot of it is spices. From the taste I took, I think I’ll be making this again! It was quick too, which is a huge bonus.

 

20171022_115500

My husband loves pot roast slow cooker meals with potatoes and carrots. When we saw it was going to be a cold week, we knew chili and pot roast were perfect meals! My husband got me an Instant Pot for my birthday (yay!), and I wanted to use it this weekend. So back to Pinterest I went to find a recipe for the Instant Pot. I decided to go with a recipe from Favorite Family Recipes. It was easy and because it was my first time using the Instant Pot, that was perfect! Being able to sear the meat in the Instant Pot is a game changer. I really hated having to sear the meat in a pan before putting in the slow cooker. I always thought that a slow cooker meal should be super easy, and this definitely fit the bill! From start to finish, this meal only took 2 hours and OH MY that first taste was amazing. We will definitely be making this again.

20171022_142206.jpg

Meal prep doesn’t have to be crazy! It doesn’t have to last all day. If it did, I definitely would not do it! Both of these meals will be filling, delicious, and easy to heat up at school. I will be steaming some broccoli and bringing a salad to get more veggies in as well. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail, and I was not going to let this busy week get the best of me!

What is your plan for meals this week? What are your go to Instant Pot recipes?

Here’s to being happy & fit,
Victoria

 

 

One year ago…

I had every intention of writing this on my birthday however allergies and work commitments had different plans.

A year ago I was a different person. I was starting to go down a path that wasn’t bringing me joy. My mood was all over the place, I kept getting sick, I didn’t want to do anything social, my clothes weren’t fitting, and I didn’t feel like myself. Everyday I kept asking myself how to get out of this hole, what can I change? I never really admitted that a lot had to change though because I let myself continue down this path until that February.

I look at my life now in amazement. I wake up with a positive mindset that today will be a great day. I look forward to going to work and spending time with my students. I am generally really happy. I can’t help but think I saved my life.

Deep down I knew that something had to change. I kept remembering all the medical issues my grandparents have gone through, and I wanted to give myself a chance against some of those. I know that this will always be something that I have to work towards. I am not a naturally thin person, I put on weight very easily, and gosh darn it I love sweets! I am so glad I finally decided to commit to a lifestyle change that lead me to happiness. A lifestyle of balance. I’m in no way saying that losing weight will make you happy, every person is different. When I changed my eating habits my body just felt better. I have had stomach issues forever, and I’m now finally able to have some control because I’m fueling my body correctly.

I really did this for me. I wanted to feel good. Every person deserves to wake up in the morning in love with their life, or at least really liking it. I never had the goal of rocking a bikini, or running a marathon in a year, or a certain amount of pounds to lose. I honestly just really wanted to be happy. Don’t get me wrong, I love my husband, my family, and my friends, but I just felt like something wasn’t there.

The effects of this change have been far more than I ever thought. My husband and I are lifting together, and he got into running and is running his first half marathon next month! Seeing him running, and the fact that my dad has always been a running inspiration for me, got me to start running again. Just recently, my 5th graders have made multiple comments about how I am always happy, or “like medicine because I make people feel better when they don’t feel good,” and full of joy. This honestly brought me to tears when they made these comments. I have had friends and coworkers say I am a positive person, someone who always has a smile on, and that they can see how happy I am. This was confirmation for me that I not only feel great, but I am bringing that happiness to the world.

I truly hope that people can find whatever makes them happy in life. It is such an amazing feeling being really happy. I can’t help but smile as I am writing this blog looking at a lake after a run. Was it the best run? No way. Was it progress? You bet. Was I happy that I did it? Always.

20171021_101812

Here’s to being happy & fit,
Victoria

Working Through Injuries

When you workout, or for me just live your day to day life, you will most likely get injured at some point. This is not something that is always bad, it may be you just over did it and your muscles/joints/body wasn’t ready. It is important that you treat your body right as it is recovering.

As a rule of thumb, exercising shouldn’t cause you great pain during the fact. If something really hurts or doesn’t feel good, stop! You will learn your body, there are times that you have some discomfort when you up your weight or try a more complicated move, but it should never be excruciating pain.

I have Achilles tendinitis in both of my legs. It is something I have to deal with and be very careful when I am active. Because I have this, I also tend to suffer with some lower body injuries from time to time. I have gotten pretty good at reading my body and knowing when I need to give it some extra TLC.

When I have an injury or feel an injury come on I do the following things:

  1. I stop exercising that area intensely. For example, when I have a lower body injury I may opt to do upper body or core workouts. I may go for walks or try the stationary bike, but I take it easy for the first few days.
  2. Ice! I have many ice packs in my freezer. I like to spend some time icing that area especially when I get home from work and before I go to bed.
  3. I like to use Biofreeze or Icy Hot while I am at work or right before I go to bed. It helps to ease the pain.
  4. As always, keep drinking plenty of water.
  5. Stretch! Ever since my dancing days, I have loved to stretch. It not only feels amazing, but helps your body recover after workouts. You should try and get in a stretch everyday, whether it is part of your workout or not. Stretching has so many benefits!
  6. Once I am feeling better, I take it easy getting back into my regular workouts. Don’t go straight back giving your all – still have an amazing workout, but be mindful not to hurt that area again.

I am in no way a fitness or health professional, these are just some steps that I take when I have an injury or an especially sore spot.

Remember that water and stretching are important everyday!

Here’s to being happy & fit
-Victoria