I have a proposition for you all. Tomorrow, Monday July 1st, I am embarking on a 30 day challenge. In a little over a month my family and myself are leaving for a fabulous vacation to Curacao! I am so exnamcited for some sun and sand! With that, I wouldn't mind shedding a few pounds, to help me feel a little more confident on the beaches in my bathing suit.

On Instagram I follow a personal trainer named Massy. You can follow her @mankofit on Instagram. She recently posted about a challenge which is essentially cutting all the crap and eating clean. On top of that she wants you to train mean too! Here is the grocery list for the challenge:
The challenge is to follow this grocery list and this grocery list only! When I first saw this, I was like heck no can I do this! But I know I can, and you all can, do anything we truly set our minds to. She started her challenge today, but I am going grocery shopping tomorrow so I will start my challenge tomorrow. Here goes nothing! You can't make changes without challenging yourself right?! Who's with me?! Your support system is here! We've got this! I hope to share my meals with you all and hope that you will share some clean eats with me as well! Good luck all!
One of the greatest things about faith, fitness and food is that there is always room to grow! A little over a month has past since I have come home from school.  Over the past month and a half I feel that I have been growing a lot. I have had a yearning to grow as well. Where I am in my life right now is leading to a lot of growing. My life really is centered around faith, fitness and food. I am so blessed to have so many passions. It is especially cool when your journeys in each aspect reflect each other. Right now I am finding I am growing in so many aspects of my life, including these three. Luckily with faith, fitness and food, there is a never ending abundance of knowledge that is out there for the taking!

Faithful Flourish:
This summer I am participating in an online Bible study. Once a week I "meet" online with two other students from the Newman Center and our priest to discuss that week's topic. We have a reading we must complete before the discussion. I grew up going to public school, which I loved, but was not privy to all the lessons about the Bible and our faith that Catholic school students were. Recently, I have felt a tug on my heart to deepen my relationship with God. More specifically I feel that relationship needs to be developed through reading the scripture. Last night in our meeting we discussed how delving into His word will help us grow in understanding and faith. A fellow student has been feeling the same tug, to dive deeper into the Bible. My priest shared a website called Sacred Space which discusses the readings and gospel of the day. Right after our discussion I went on their website and found that the first reading was the same passage as one our readings for the week. Talk about timing! I took that as I sign furthering my desire to dig into the Bible. With that, I am aiming to start growing my faith by reading the daily reading, gospel and referencing this website to learn more.

Fighting for Fitness:
I told you last week when I talked about CrossFit about how I really wanted to push myself physically this summer. This goal is definitely being met everyday I go to class and take on the WOD (workout of the day). I continue to impress myself with all I can do, and how I can see myself growing.I am really enjoying taking on workouts I never thought I would be able to do. At class I learn something new everyday whether its about a new workout, CrossFit, health or even myself.

Feasible Food:
Of course one of my favorite parts about being home is having access to a kitchen. So far I have been having a great time experimenting in the kitchen. At home I am fortunate enough to be able to buy organically and locally. Unfortunately, when I get back to school I will be shopping on my own and doing all of my meals on my own, which is both scary and exciting! I am currently trying out different recipes that I think I could easily make and afford to make. Once I get to school I know it is going to be a whole different story, but preparing myself a little for this new venture won't hurt right?!

Care to Share:
What are your favorite healthy and affordable meals?
Smoothies are one of my favorite summer foods! After CrossFit a nice protein filled smoothie really hits the spot.

I have recently become kind of obsessed with frozen bananas. If you blend them up they take the consistency of ice cream, making the smoothies thick. Honestly I am not a big fan of just eating a banana, I don't like the taste sometimes, but this smoothie masks the taste.  Today I did a little experimenting with frozen bananas and all the berries we had in our fridge to come up with a pretty great combo that resulted in one huge, tasty smoothie!

Banana Berry Protein Smoothie
1 large frozen banana
3/4 cup strawberries
1/2 cup black raspberries
1 6 oz. Chobani Raspberry Greek yogurt
1 scoop vanilla protein powder of your choice
Almond milk (enough to get everything going)

This smoothie was so big I couldn't put the lid to my tumbler on right away! Please give this smoothie a try and let me know how you like it! My tip for smoothie making is using frozen fruits. You definitely need the banana frozen for this smoothie, but the other fruits do not have to be frozen.

Enjoy this smoothie and this beautiful summer day!

Care to Share:
What is your favorite smoothie recipe?

I finally did it! I took the plunge to start CrossFit! My only regret about starting it, is that I didn't start it right when I got home for the summer. My friend Jess, who has made some amazing changes in her life to become more healthy and fit, had been trying to get me to go to this gym since last summer. The gym I go to was not a CrossFit gym last summer, but turned CrossFit some time after the summer. Jess was able to hook me up with a free three-day pass to try out the gym. Needless to say I feel in love and haven't left since!

What was holding me back?
As you all know I thrive off of a great workout. I enjoy adding variety into my workouts, which is why I had really been having fun training myself, on my own. I have to admit though I had some apprehensions holding me back from trying out CrossFit, for as long as I have. First, I just didn't think I could keep up. I've seen the CrossFit games and different workouts posted all over websites, which quite frankly intimidated me. I basically was psyching myself out. Second, being fit in my own terms is one thing, but I didn't want to bring anyone else down around me, or better yet, embarrass myself. Lastly, the money. When researching CrossFit previously I had started incorporated a lot of their moves into my workouts. If I could do it on my own I wouldn't need to pay right? Especially when I am at school, I don't have the time for a job, which probably means not having the money for the classes. But I really wanted to try out "the real thing".

Why now?
When I got home for the summer, I knew I wanted to try something different, and really take this time to push myself. It's the summer too, so I don't have the excuse of classes and meetings to keep me from making a class time. Excuses keep us from taking on our fears and this summer I have no excuses!

What keeps me going?
One of my favorite things about CrossFit, is having a coach and other CrossFitters to push you to lengths that you never thought you could go. I have missed the team aspect of sports now that I am in college and being apart of this class has given me that team feeling again. I also, am loving the energy it gives me to take on the day! And I feel so much stronger and more confident. Confident in how I look and what I can accomplish in and out of class. Waking up early hasn't proven to be hard because I am excited to get to class. Even though I was nervous the first couple of days, and I still get nervous when I see workouts posted before the class that I don't think I can do, I am more excited to see what I can accomplish. Continually I have surprised myself with all that I have been able to do in the past couple of weeks. There are things that really challenge me like pull-ups and proper technique push-ups, but I know if I continue to go to class pushing myself as hard as I can every class then I will get better. More importantly I find that I want to work to get better rather than running in fear like I used to.

Do I really have the time?
Have I mentioned these classes are less than an hour long?! Talk about maximizing your time! On top of that I am more than energized for the day, putting me on the right foot to tackle whatever the day has planned for me, may it be work, errands or some healthy cooking in the kitchen!

What's next?
I have about a month and a half left at home for the summer. I plan on using everyday here bettering and challenging myself. Hopefully I will continue to learn a lot from the class and be able to implement what I have learned into my workouts when I have to go back to school and have to workout on my own. As I continue to learn throughout the summer I will continue to share with you all.

I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes from my idol Jillian Michaels that keeps me going everyday..."Get comfortable with being uncomfortable!"

Care to share:
Who else does CrossFit?
What are some of your favorite CrossFit workouts?
I hope everyone is enjoying their summer as much as I am! One of my favorite parts of summer is finally being able to experiment in the kitchen again. It has been a little harder with awkward part time work schedules but I manage to get a new recipe or two in per week. Did I mention I am working at a frozen yogurt shop this summer? Can you say heaven?!

I have a couple of recipes I'd like to share with you today. First I have a Quinoa Vegetable salad! This salad can be served warm right away, or served again cool. I really enjoyed it cooled over the following days.
Quinoa Vegetable Salad
1 cup of dried quinoa
1 orange bell pepper
3 tomatoes of choice
1/4 of a red onion
1 can of rinsed garbanzo beans
1 1/2 cups of corn
2 tbl. olive oil
2 tbl. lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp. basil

1. Cook 1 cup of quinoa in about 2 cups of water. Let water come to a boil then let sit 15 minutes to set.
2. Meanwhile dice all the vegetables and combine in a bowl.
3. Make dressing combining the olive oil, lemon and basil in a small bowl.
4. Once quinoa is done add to vegetables then add dressing.

This made a huge batch so beware! I loved it though because it has been a perfect snack to bring to work.
I even grilled up some salmon the other night with some of my vegetable quinoa salad it was the perfect dinner before a night of work!

I recently made Chocolate PB Energy Bites from The Lean Green Bean. I am experimenting with different snacks like these so I can hopefully come up with some on my own! Lindsey is the blogger behind The Lean Green Bean and I have fallen in love with her site! So many pictures and she is a true healthy blogger, blogging everyday and living a truly healthy and happy life! Here is her recipe:

1 1/2 cup of oats
2 tbl. chia seeds
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1/2 cup craisins
1/4 cup natural peanut butter
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips

1. Combine all dry ingredients, except chocolate, into a bowl.
2. Melt peanut butter, honey and chocolate together in the microwave until smooth.
3. Pour chocolate peanut butter mixture into dry ingredients.
4. Form into balls. Refrigerate and keep in an air tight container. 

Did I mention I made them along with some dark chocolate covered strawberries! Talk about yummy!
What are your favorite go to make ahead snacks?! If you don't have any yet give these a try and keep experimenting like I am.

Happy experimenting everyone!