Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Treadmills and Trainers (the personal kind).

Every Tuesday, I send "Tuesday Tips from your Trainer" out to my personal training clients.  These usually entail subjects such as: "Eat 80% of the food on your plate and leave 20% alone, healthy snack ideas to keep near your desk, simple movements to burn more calories throughout the day, etc."  Today, having completed 8 weeks of a 10 week program, I decided to focus on the health aspect of training as opposed to the outward appearance aspect that so many of my clients (and Americans in general) crave to change.  In a society where a size 2 woman is worshipped and a size 14 (the actual average size of an American woman) is scoffed at there must have been some misconstruing along the way.  Now, I'm not condemning you if you are naturally a size two. It's not about a number on the scale or on the tag of your clothes.  It's about helping people find a healthy size for themselves, making sure their hearts stay ticking strongly in order to keep up with their grandchildren, aiding in the diminishing of the obesity and cardiovascular disease statistics, and helping people reach fitness goals that they never thought possible while learning to love being active. It's not about seeing how little you can eat in a day, it's about properly fueling your body to perform at its optimum level. Strong is the new skinny. What good is fitting into a size 2 pair of jeans when you can't even play in them for fear of passing out?  Society is projecting a skewed version of beauty onto each little girl to the point where they find Barbie to be an (impossibly) attainable "role model", they can't leave the house without makeup at age nine, and they feel a serious pressure to fit into a certain mold.  It's time to alter the stubborn American mindset, and that, my friends, can start right there with yours truly: 

Forget every downfall. Forget every heartbreak. Forget every comment that has ever whispered past your ears to tell you otherwise. Forget every person who has made you feel inadequate. Forget every supposed flaw. Forget every glance in the mirror that has ever made you feel insufficient. Someone would not have the audacity to walk into the Louvre museum and start critiquing Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa for all to hear. So who are we to critique the ultimate artist, the Creator, Himself?  Each and every one of us is one of His masterpieces, made in His own image. To think otherwise is intolerable. Looking to wordly definitions of beauty has created a narrow view of what is considered perfection; a downfall that society has unfortunately engrained in our brains and has spread like a deadly pandemic. Stop listening to what the jealous and insecure say. Stop conforming. Stop looking to magazines and media and sucking in your stomach. Stop staring with angst at the next girl in flashy stilettos to come clacking into the room. Stop the obsessive evaluation that takes place in the mirror on the daily. Or the hourly. Or the minutely. Stop avoiding eye contact with other people because you think you won’t measure up to their standards of beauty. Gaze back boldly because you have no reason not to. Enjoy what makes you unique. Freckles? Rock those suckers as a reminder of the lazy, summer sunshine and the way they get intensifed as the day goes on. Glasses? Your IQ is about 30 points higher in the eye of the beholder. Braces? You’ll have a smile that rivals those in the Crest toothpaste commercials once those train tracks are removed. A little love handle action? You are a woman. So what?  You’ve got some child bearing hips…big deal?! A big butt? Obtained through hill training for your first marathon and multiple sets of lunges and squats. Thunder thighs? Strong. Powerful. Muscular. Independent. Take-charge-kind-of-legs. Enough said. Imperfection is beautiful. You appear the way you do because that’s the way God knit you together within your mothers’ wombs. You are intelligent. You are talented. You have the ability to change peoples’ perceptions of yourself. You are who you are. And YOU. Are. Beautiful.

And now I will step off of my soapbox for the day...

Monday, February 27, 2012

Just Another Manic Monday.

A little wisdom to live by....find your priorities, set your priorities, evaluate your priorities, re-set your priorities, wash, rinse, repeat. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Fiesta's and Siesta's.

Happy Almost-Friday, kiddo's! It's time for another edition of The Crockpot Files.  This week's crockpot gem is by far the easiest recipe you will ever find (ever), and SO good especially if you have a craving for Mexican.  This meal takes no pre-planning (you don't even have to remember to thaw out the chicken ahead of time) and about 2 minutes of preparation, which is key in a busy schedule.


  • 2 frozen chicken breasts (yup, I did say FROZEN)
  • 1 can of Rotel
  • 1/2 cup of shredded cheese (you can choose any flavor you like: taco, mexican, colby jack, etc. I chose reduced fat marble jack (a combo of marbled cheddar and colby jack)).

  1. Place the frozen chicken breasts in the slow cooker.
  2. Add the can of rotel and cheese to your liking.

3.  Cook on low for 8 hours.
4.  Ta-Da! Finally a crockpot recipe that only yields 2 servings (you could add more if desired).

Day one: I'm eating this with a side of mexican rice and peas.
Day two: I'm taking it to work, shredding the chicken breast (pulling it apart using forks), placing it in the microwave, putting it into a whole wheat tortilla, and adding cheese and salsa to my liking for a chicken taco that my co-workers are sure to be jealous of :) 

Seeing as it is Thursday and I'm worn out enough to need a siesta, this was the perfect meal for a day like today.  Escaping work, whining PT clients, and this wintery slush to an apartment with the scent of a Mexican fiesta wafting on by is the perfect way to welcome my almost-weekend.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Early morning runs and savory skylines.

There is nothing that beats the serenity of an early morning solitary session of pounding the pavement especially with views like this one from the trails. Until that biker passes you and innocently yells "GOOD MORNING!" at the top of his lungs and brings you out of your zone and gives you 87% of a heart attack....

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

His and Hers.

Regardless of the fact that I am quite the realist (which sometimes people often see as a masquerading cynic), I do still love love and I do still believe in love. So, in honor of Valentine's Day yesterday, I am posting a rockin' awesome sermon on love and life and everything in between from the church I attend in Des Moines. This pastor is a-mazing, and while the message is kind of long, I highly recommend it for anyone who is single, dating, or has been married 5 years or 50.  Feel free to grab a notebook and take notes MEN AND WOMEN because in the society we live in, relationships are a tough thing and we can use all of the help we can get :)  Happy Wednesday!

Click on the link below and go to 2012.02.12. "A Love Story Gone Wrong".


Monday, February 13, 2012

Phone lines and First World Problems.

"I'll be there in 5."
"Can you cover my Pure Strength Class today?"
"I love you!"
"Hey, I need some advice. Call me when you're free!"
"Yeah, uhhh I'll take 2 medium one-topping pizza's..."
"Hi. You've reached Mediacom. If you'd like to speak with a representative about your account..."

I always used to be the first one to chime in with, "I sometimes wish I could just turn my phone off and take a technology vacation." Welp. I'm up to bat now, but it was definitely not by choice.  Thanks, Coach. My phone officially stopped working last night, and I had to order a new one, which won't be here for another two or three days. TWO OR THREE DAYS. I mean what could happen in forty-eight hours that I would miss out on? What's that saying? You don't know what you got til it's gone? Ain't that the truth. As much as I enjoy my quiet time and time away from the phone, it truly is the key that fits the lock in the connection to the outside world. When you live by yourself and you don't have a landline, it's the life jacket that keeps you afloat in a sea of safety. When the leader of your household is overseas serving our country, it's the spaces between the fingers of clasped hands to keep your racing mind at peace. When you have a sick relative who is bed-ridden, it's the string between the tin cans of life and death. When you have a boyfriend who is eleven hours away, it's the long-distance hug and daily good night exchange. I was never truly grateful for the technology era we live in because I do think there are a lot of things that should still happen face-to-face as opposed to through a speaker, but I was also never truly grateful for the silence.  My faith-walk started back when I was 6 years old, and I know my relationship with God well enough to know that if things start to go "downhill" in my daily life, then there is something missing from my spiritual life, as well.  Obviously, I was too strong-headed to take heed to His initial warnings so, He had to take it to the next level and literally make Himself the only number I could dial.  As bare as I feel without my phone attached to my thumbs for 12 out of the 24 hours, it's kind of beautiful just to sit back, give the reins of control to the One who deserves them, and listen. I'm happy to regain my position of co-pilot, following the route of the One who has it all mapped out.  Hope you all had a smoother flight today, as my Monday was filled with a little too much turbulence for my taste. BUT I am learning, and that's important.

"My sheep recognize my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them real and eternal life. They are protected from the Destroyer for good. No one can steal them out of my hand. The Father who put them under my care is so much greater than the Destroyer and Thief.  No one could ever get them away from him. I and the Father are one heart and mind." {John 10:27-30}.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Looks can be deceiving.

Today is one of those days where the weather matches The Real Housewives of _______ (pick a city, and fill in the blank). It appears to be a beautiful day based on looks, but the temperature is ironically, dramatically brutal.  I guess I shouldn't be complaining since up until this past week, we've had a rather balmy winter, and I can't say I was mad about it. That dumb groundhog. Anyway, today has been the perfect day for a packed out hour-long spin class workout, a nice hot shower, a good conversation with one of my favorite co-workers, and mostly hibernating away with some college basketball, my newest art project, and an oven full of cake mix cookies.  It's a perfect afternoon if I do say so myself.  All leading up to the perfect evening where I will (attempt to) brave the cold again and head to the little 8 year old drama queen's house where I have a fabulous reunion, only fitting for a fabulous 8 year old, planned for us. Crafts and Pizza. Movies and Baking. Playing house and Bedtime stories. All in a (winter) days work.

3 Ingredients and 3 Steps: Cake Mix Cookies
  • 1 cake mix of your choice (I prefer to use those entitled "super moist" because it helps the cookies stay softer for longer)- this time I chose Devil's Food.
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray.
  2. Place 1 1/2 inch balls on cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes.  Let cookies cool for 3 minutes on the cookie sheet before removing them to cool completely on a cooling rack.
  3. Enjoy! These cookies were originally introduced to me by the famous Bette Bagnall. Easy enough that they can be made during the halftime of your College Basketball Rivalry game of choice. Grandma B tested, Janel approved.

The X's and the O's.

In more ways than one.

Friday, February 10, 2012

You bet. Happy Friday kiddos!

Happy birthday to me?

I think I just made a new best frannnnn.

Signs and Lines.

Extreme Makeover: Bedroom-Walls-That-I'm-Not-Allowed-To-Paint-Edition.  Being in the living situation that I am, an apartment is what I call home, I am a little bit limited in the decorating that I can actually do. Especially the permanent kind. So, while at Hobby Lobby the other day, which not only gave me this idea, but about a gazillion more seeing as everything I could have ever wanted was on sale, I picked up a little kit.  They have these wonderful, removable (don't worry mamacita and daddio, I will get my deposit back) vinyl lettering kits. I instantly fell in love and wanted one for just about every wall that is listed under my lease; however, I refrained and decided to start with one. I searched until I found one that I thought was very fitting especially with my previous semi-insomniatic status(ever since I hit "adulthood", I have had no problem hitting the hay as soon as my head hits the pillow)/anxiety to-do lists forming in my head (thank you, genetics).  Thus, the Friday afternoon process began:

  1. Measure out the space where you want to place the the letters (mine came on three different sheets that were not the same size and cut apart by a 5 year old (pre-pre-school seeing as they couldn't cut in a straight line), making it a little difficult to line up).  I used a tape measure, a pencil, and some good eyeballing technique in order to do so.
  2. I then taped the the three sheets to the wall in the spots where I wanted them. 
3.  Remove the backing and use the plastic applicator to smooth out the letters starting from the center of each paper.

4.  Use a wet sponge to go over all of the letters in order to enhance the adherence.
5.  Peel back the outer pieces of paper at a sharp angle.

6.  And Ta-Da! Another easy project in just a matter of minutes. It looks even better above the headboard that daddio so graciously and very patiently made out of an old door I found in their barn. Yeah, he's a carpenter on the side.  No big deal.

Just another Free Thought Friday...

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Gateways and guardians.

Today is a Thursday. And much like any other Pre-Friday (because let's be honest, isn't Thursday just the countdown to Friday?), I worked the typical 9-5 shift. Anyone who knows me, knows that I adore my job and the people with which I work (minus a few non-compliant over-the-top-whining clients); however, there is just something in the pit of my stomach (and no it's not the cheesy potato soup I made on the stove last night) as I get ready to go for my run every Thursday morning that fills me dread for the day to come. The two culprits include BOSU and Bag N' Box. These are the two classes that I unknowingly assigned myself to teach every Thursday. They draw small crowds based on their time frames and equipment used so, for some reason my attitude toward them is less than pleasant each week, and by less than pleasant I mean downright dreadful.  Every other part of my Thursday is wonderful, I get to sleep in until 7:00 am, which I've learned is equivalent to 10:00 am as a teenager, start my day with a fast-[aced run, see 2 of my favorite personal training clients, and I really enjoy working with the people that I do. Not to mention, everyone is in a pretty decent mood seeing as they are looking forward to the almost-weekend (kind of like a pre-friday...you'll understand my lingo soon enough). So, next Thursday, I'm deciding to take a little different perspective. Why should one thirty minute class and another 45 minute class ruin my entire attitude, let alone, day? The answer is, it shouldn't.  So, tonight over a quesadilla filled with peppers, onions, turkey, cheese, and salsa along with some brown rice, I'm taking on a new perspective. A more positive perspective on the whole Pre-Friday situation. We all have a choice. A choice of who we are and who we become.  A choice of what our attitude looks like and how we project it. A choice of our perspective and what we let influence it. Tonight, I'm choosing to keep it positive. Life is too short to worry, and I've got the best Guardian/Body Guard for which a girl could ask. Seeing as I have to work tomorrow morning at 4:45 AYYY EMMMM, my night is already starting to wind down.  This includes soft lighting (graciously provided by the newest edition to my living room), a little pandora action, a good book that I can't seem to put down, and most likely some popcorn mixed with m&m's (my favorite combo).

Life is good especially with a fresh perspective. What "first world" problems could possibly be worse than anything those in other parts of the world have to endure? I'll help you out on this one.  None.  So, sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride. There's no need to complicate; our time is short.  And you can thank Mr. Jason Mraz for those wise sentiments.

"I'm not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don't get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckonging us onward- toward Jesus. I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back." {Philippians 3:12-14}

I don't know about you, but I'm lacing up my Nikes and pounding the pavement.

Every single day.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Crockpots and cracked eggs.

  As many of you know, I received a crockpot for Christmas, which I've learned is the perfect cooking tool for anyone (much like me) who likes dishes that are quick, easy, containing ingredients that you can pronounce and reuse, and enjoys coming home to a warm smelling apartment with various home-y scents wafting toward your nostrils.  Well, this is no Julia and Julia endeavor, but I'm doing my best to try new things! This week's little gem was adapted from here (one of my favorite recipe bloggers and an original Marshalltonian at that. Definitely worth checking out!) because let's be honest, I am one person, I know what I like, and I don't necessarily want to be eating the same meal for the next 6 days. Plus, I like to try to make recipes a little more health-conscious due to my profession (see blog post numero uno). Thus, this breakfast bake is born. This serves 4-6 (or 2 if you're me...).

  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk (I use Skim)
  • 1 (1 lb) bag frozen hashbrowns
  • 6 strips of Turkey Bacon
  • 1 1/2 cups of Reduced Fat Cheddar Cheese
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 3/4 tsp dill
  • 1/2 tbsp of pepper
  • 1/2 diced bell pepper (optional)
  1. Line the crockpot with liner or spray with non-stick spray (less "burnage" around the edges if you choose to line).
  2. Place 1/3 of the hashbrowns in the bottom, followed by 1/3 of the bacon, cheese, and onion (and bell pepper pieces if used). Repeat twice in a layering fashion.

3.  Mix eggs, milk, pepper, and dill.  Pour over crockpot mixture.

4.  Cook on low for 8 hours.

Andddddd TA-DA! It's as easy as that (and trust me, I cannot get enough of easy recipes as a girl on the go.)!  Enjoy. Happy Monday everyone :)

Giggles and Guac.

Yes, yesterday was the Superbowl. Yes, Superbowl Sunday generally comes in second only to Christmas day in my book. Yes, I love football and everything that goes along with it: the plays, the routes, the uniforms, the epic catches and throws, the (sometimes) enviable role models, the coaches, the funny quotes, the terrible commentating, and the environment. However, this year, due to the top two teams deemed "superbowl eligible", I was slightly less than exhilarated when it came to the morning of my second favorite holiday. This year, I was looking forward to: ranking commercials, making jokes about the half time show, seeing who the biggest celebrities at the game were, giggling with friends over just about every commentator's view, and making an appetizer spread to rival Rachel Ray. All in all, it was a good game (though slightly disappointing because do we really need more New York and Boston monopolizing our sports channels?) with some good friends, good food, and good times. Have I mentioned that I love my life? No? Oh. Well I do :)  Pictured below: The first course to our spread (BBQ'd lil' smokies, veggie pizza, and taco dip...the later courses included: guacomole, 'roni rolls, and BBQ hot wings. It's okay to be a little jealous.).

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Cyclones and familiarity.

It's game day baby! CyclONE nation. #winfromwithin.  
 (Pictured above: Fred Hoiberg and Jalen Rose, NBA teammates).

Friday, February 3, 2012

First things first.

Welcome to the insane asylum of thoughts relayed through a timeline.  I figured it was time to put my money where my mouth was and get my fingers to click-clack away. In doing so, this blog should come with a bit of a disclaimer: my thought process is definitely one-of-a-kind (rare), and sometimes it is expressed through a blunt combo and a side of sarcasm (air).  I decided it was time to take my creativity to a new level now that I'm a grown-up (or something like it).  A few things you must know about me before you continue delving deeper into the crevices of my cerebrum...

The first being that I am an anatomy freak. I love the human body. I love movement. I love athletic builds and performances. Which does a pretty good job of explaining why I chose the profession I did (exercise specialist), and why I chose the college major I did (Kinesiology).

Which brings me to #2. Iowa State is my alma mater, and I will forever bleed cardinal and gold. Believe it or not, our athletics are (finally) re-entering that pre-legacy state that has been missed for the past (several) years.  If you ever can't find me, and I'm not out on a run, then I'm probably propped up in front of a TV watching Cyclone football or basketball or watching the highlights.  Especially now that we are gracing Sportscenter's Top 10 plays! Yeah, I said it.

3.  My name is Janel, and I am addicted to running. I can't remember the last time I took a day off.  Not only has it become a part of my daily routine, it's become a part of my very entity.  It doesn't matter if I'm out there for a half an hour or a half marathon. I. Love. It. I call it my time of separation of stress and state (of being). I pop in my headphones, crank up the tunes, lace up my Nikes, and start pounding the pavement.  Makes for a solid, head-clearing prayer time, too.

As much as #3 made me sound like a loner who enjoys solitude (which is sometimes true and often necessary), number four will tell you that I'm 97% relationally inclined.  I love my family and friends. I enjoy spending time with them, planning events, and reveling in their company. The giggles, the tears, the encouragement, the grace, the very essence of us. We laugh. We encompass. We say sorry. We forgive. We do real. It's just the way it is. I'm very blessed to have the family I have.

Speaking of blessings, My Savior has blessed me in so many way that I can't even count them on my FIVE fingers or toes.  My personal body guard/pilot/captain/architect/road mapper gives me everything I could ever need just for relying on Him, making Him my numero uno.  I try to pursue hard after Him on the daily, but I'm not perfect and neither is my  logic.  Just as He makes little appearances in every millisecond of my life, He will make little appearances in the Internet rendition of it, as well.

I can promise you that I'm a simple girl, but there is a lot more to me than just these 5 things. So, if I held your attention all the way through that painful introduction then just think of the fun this girl has in store for you...