soul and body meet in faith, food, and fitness

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Pesto Pizza with Bacon and Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts Pizza

One of my husband’s favorite meals is his mom’s pesto pizza. I don’t know if there is a real recipe for her version or not, but I dared not try to recreate it….mostly because I had few of the ingredients on hand. So I started from scratch with what I had, which was a pile of fresh basil, a flatbread pizza dough recipe, a ball of fresh mozzarella and went from there.  Upon opening the fridge to grab cheese I discovered leftover bacon from Sunday brunch and Brussels sprouts several days past their prime. So what’s a chef  pregnant lady to do? Pile them on the pizza. And you know what? It was a huge hit. Happy day! Continue reading


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Starting 21 Day Fix Extreme

Today is day 1 of 21 Day Fix Extreme, one of Beachbody’s newest programs. Sitting trying to figure out the container system and meal planning is a tad daunting for me, actually.

I thoroughly enjoy cooking and being creative in the kitchen, but I’ve never been very good at planning in advance. I am more a spontaneous cook based on what is available to me. So trying to look out a week is rough for me. It’s a lot of components to figure out so it is easy to get overwhelmed by it.

That being said, I am giving it a go and going to try it out! Sitting here at day 1 of meal planning, I fully expect to come out the other side thinking that Whole30 was an easier challenge! I promise to keep you updated as I go.

As far as the workouts are concerned, they are great so far!  I’ve done the first two workouts, Plyo and Upper Fix, and boy do I feel it! I’ll try to keep you all updated as I go.


What I learned from Whole30

At varying points in my Whole30 journey I felt great, terrible, bloated, like it was the easiest and greatest, and like it was the worst and would never end.  It was a bit of a roller coaster at times, but overall, I’m quite glad I tried it out and think I have a few things I can carry along with me for the long term.

What is Whole30 you ask? In a nutshell, for 30 days you remove all sugar, dairy, legumes, and grains from your diet to hit a reset button in your body and let it heal from years of poor eating.*  There’s a whole science behind it if you care to learn more (it’s quite interesting and even though my Whole30 is over, I still want to finish reading the book).

Sausage veggie goodness

One of my favorite meals of the month

Let me start off by admitting that I didn’t even make it the full 30 days and my Whole30 was far from perfectly compliant.  Eating meals can be so community driven. For example, when I was eating in groups, celebrating with others (weddings! milestones! Yay!), it was hardest to stay compliant. I also slipped on the rules when travel complicated my ability to control my meals.

Doing Whole30 forced me away from my addiction to sugar and away from my reliance on grains to round out a meal.  Prior to Whole30 I felt I ate a fairly balanced diet already and stayed away from most highly processed foods.  However, I would be the first to admit my reliance on sugar.  Not simply as a quick energy source, but also for emotional reasons – rewards, a crutch during stressful times, etc.

breadless sandwich

Trying a breadless sandwich idea from Amazon_Ashley

Whole30 helped me begin to recognize my emotional reliance on food a bit more and try to address it slowly. Thirty days is not long enough for me to completely break out of those habits, but it did highlight for me how closely my eating can be tied to emotions. Instead of not eating at all, I would substitute for something Whole30 approved to munch on.  That’s not exactly the point – but feeding my body something good is a step in the right direction, rather than eating sugar or salty processed foods.

Whole30 also gotten rid of that 3 o’clock haze that I often experience at work.  In feeding my body well with fruits, vegetables, and proteins, I was able to rid myself of that most dreaded part of the afternoon where my mind goes a bit fuzzy after lunch and I hit a slump.  Ding, ding, ding – it’s tied to lunchtime carbs and how I process them.  Cleaner lunches helped me stay more focused at work, and I also wasn’t dipping in energy from a sugar crash – extra bonus points.

My body feels well nourished, my mind is sharp, I know I’m fueling myself well so why quit? Why not make Whole30 a permanent part of my life?

brining pork chops

Brining pork chops is a revelation!

Food is about more than nourishing my body.  Of course that’s the bulk of it, but as I alluded to earlier, the toughest moments of Whole30 were when I was with my community and I couldn’t fully participate because of my chosen diet.  Especially when eating as a guest in someone’s home, I did not always have the option to be compliant. I also had a work trip during my Whole30 that completely derailed my efforts to stay compliant.  Trying to figure out compliance while traveling deserves it’s own full post, to be honest.  I did try my best for the first few days of the trip but there was an emotionally exhausting piece of trying to balance a new work situation, travel in a new locale, and the funky way of eating. Hence the derailment after a while.

All that said and done, I do hope to incorporate what I’ve learned from Whole30 into my every day life going forward.  I hope to keep grains to a minimum still (after going a bit grain and sugar crazy this first weekend off Whole30) and also keep off the addiction to sugar.  Sugar cycles are crazy quick to take hold in my body and I have a major sweet tooth.  So, my goals are to figure out the balance of celebrating and enjoying food, but not letting the hormonal affects of food dictate what I’m putting into my body.  I also have been entirely convinced that long term, to fuel my body well, I may need to take drastic measures (drastic as in Whole30) when I find myself in a season of poor food decisions.  It’s the reset I needed after summer sweets and treats.

I know some of you other Catholic bloggers did Whole30 – what are your reflections now that it’s over? Link in the comments and I’ll be sure to click over too!

*I also modified to continue drinking Shakeology throughout my Whole30 experience, after having followed another Beachbody coach’s experience of going off Shakeology and doing Whole30.

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7QT: Whole30, new jams and more

It’s been a while, but I’m linking up with Jen at Conversion Diary again!

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At the risk of being WAY disjointed in my 7QTs, the rest are completely unrelated and jump from topic to topic. But hey, that’s the name of the game, right? I’m in a hurry to get out the door!

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I’m a week into my Whole30 challenge, you know, the one that Haley started? She invited me to be sort of the “fitness guru” of the group, if you will.  So far, it’s been a great community of people to bounce ideas and learn their favorite Whole30 compliant recipes.  I feel GREAT, but then again, that’s what happens when you fuel your body well, amiright? I needed a reminder of that before I started the Whole30 challenge.  My eating had gotten so poor over the summer that a few of those pesky pounds crept back on. But….

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…that doesn’t mean I’m losing perspective on the progress I’ve made already. Maybe you missed my last post with transformation pics from my journey with Beachbody fitness programs. If so, please stop by!

Before and After

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All this feel good-ness from Whole30 means I’ve been eating a lot of great meals with lots of good protein.  I am committed to eating locally when I can, so meals like this are a win! I knew the source of every item on my plate! Veggies all from my Bergefurd farm CSA and beef from my parent’s farm. Grilling, whole30, and locavore win!

locavore win

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Did you see the push Gina is doing for her friend’s son to get a Diabetic Alert Dog? Please check it out! Cameron’s 8 year old words are so heartfelt.

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sweet gift from a reader


A few days ago I was surprised by mail from a work connection who follows me here and on Facebook. She sent me the sweetest note and a book she thought I would find inspiring. She wrote, saying that although she doesn’t comment or interact much, she has been inspired by what I’ve written and she put herself on a journey to better health because of it. It was such a kind gesture and a reminder that even if I don’t know about it, words can be a powerful catalyst to change in someone’s life. I know I’m a small fry blogger, but it was so encouraging.

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I’ve been feeling blah lately about the music in my car and waiting to be inspired by someone new.  Thankfully, my best friend Rach told me to check out Steffany Gretzinger’s The Undoing.  And BAM…a similar kind of heartfelt, inspiring, powerful music that I enjoy from Audrey Assad, right out of Bethel Music.  I promise it’s worth the purchase. Enjoy!


7QT: Seven Benefits of Community Supported Agriculture

First off, if you are not familiar with CSAs, it stands for Community Supported Agriculture.  In short summary, a member of a CSA pays a fee at the beginning of a growing season and each week picks up their share of the farm’s harvest.

This will be my fourth summer as part of a CSA and I can’t wait for my share pickup to begin next week! I know several friends who have considered making the leap to participate in a CSA, but weren’t sure if they wanted to jump.  So I wanted to link up with Kathryn and share my 7 quick takes on why I enjoy being a member of community supported agriculture. Without further ado…

7 benefits of a CSA

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It’s a good value.  I tend to easily go over my grocery budget when farmer’s market season rolls around and a CSA helps keep my spending on produce in check. After all, it’s only me and the ocassional extra mouth that I’m cooking for at this point, so there is only so much that I can eat in a week.  THAT however, doesn’t tend to stop me from stocking up on the abundance of beautiful ingredients staring at me as I walk through the farmer’s market.

By having a CSA share I have paid upfront for my produce and that means at the height of summer when I’ve got zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, and corn coming out my ears, I wouldn’t have to spend anything at the farmer’s market if I didn’t want to.

But usually I still want to. I mean all the Blue Oven Bakery bread, Canal Junction cheese, Backyard Orchards fruit….come on.  My willpower is weak. Continue reading


Meaghan’s Change to Clean Eating

I’m pleased to introduce a fellow runner and college friend of my sister, Meaghan Arzberger, for a guest post today. She’s had quite a journey the first couple months of 2014 as she started eating cleaner and realizing how much diet impacts health – not simply exercise. 

Guatemalan Market

I ran my first race at age 7, and I haven’t stopped running since.  At almost 29 years old, I have completed more 5ks, 10ks, 15ks, etc than I can count, about a dozen half marathons and four marathons.  I have also completed Insanity twice and regularly attend a beach boot camp three days a week (I live in Maine).  Basically, I have always thought to myself, “I am healthy.  I exercise!”
As I am sure many of you know, our health is so intertwined with other aspects of our life.  About five years ago, I lost my mother-in-law quite suddenly, which put a lot of strain on our family.  Unfortunately, our bad luck continued.  My husband’s cousin was in a terrible ATV accident resulting in serious brain damage, his sister was in a car accident and nearly lost her life, and his step-father passed away after a failed liver transplant.  All of these events occurred in about a three year period for our family.  We also had our share of happy moments such as the birth of my niece and a couple of beautiful weddings!
I continued my strenuous exercise routine throughout all of these ups and downs.  I still believed that I was healthy.  About a year ago, I started seeing a therapist.  I didn’t really have any set agenda. I just knew that I had been through a lot and felt like I wanted to just process some of the things that I had been through.  I finished my meetings this past fall with new clarity and priorities in life.  My mental and emotional health process helped me reconnect in a positive way with my exercise, my marriage, and my faith.  “Finally!”, I thought to myself.  “I am now truly healthy!”

Again though, I was mistaken.  One of the ways I had coped with our family struggles was with food.  While I was still exercising and had taken the time to focus on my spiritual, mental and emotional well-being, I had neglected my diet.  I thought, “I am exercising so I can eat what I want!!”

Continue reading