Fitness, Transitions


Confidence is a fleeting feeling. Sometimes you get on a roll and confidence is limitless. Other times, confidence wavers.

In the last few years, my confidence has been pretty consistent. How did I build that? How do I regularly feel confident?

It’s because I keep the promises I make to myself.

If it sounds simple, it’s because it is simple.

Recently I was reading through all of the notes stored on my iPhone and found the goals I had written for 2017. The two big goals I made were to compete in 2 NPC shows and to buy a home on a nice lot and an open kitchen. I even had strategies for reaching those goal written down, which I did.

I accomplished both of those things in 2017. I busted my ass to keep those promises I made to myself.

It scared me to death to get back on that stage twice last year, but it was a goal I knew I wanted to accomplish, so I put in the work day in and day out and I did compete twice. Shoot, I even won an overall title.

It scared me to death to sign those mortgage documents, but it was a goal I knew was right for my husband and me. So we saved like crazy, moved in with my parents for a few months, and made our dream a reality.

The confidence I’ve built is a result of the promises I’ve made to myself and I’ve kept regardless of any excuses I could come up with.

Does the confidence sometimes still waver? Of course it does. But I know the choices I need to make to feel that limitless confidence and am self-aware enough to know when I haven’t been making them.

Do you want that kind of confidence? Make some promises to yourself and do the little and big things it takes every day to keep those promises.

Fitness, Recipes, Transitions, Veganism

Cold weather meals ~ Vegan Jambalaya

I live in Florida. I love living in Florida. Especially when it’s literally freezing everywhere else and it’s in the 70s here. I do not love cold weather. I do not love the layers and the constant battle against the frozen nose and toes. I do however, enjoy stews, chili, and jambalaya which this ridiculously cold Florida weather (lows in the 30s) is perfect for.

Because of our recent cold-snap, I’ve decided to share my veganized twist on jambalaya. I initially made this recipe based on this one that is from The Plant Pure Nation Cookbook and was shared on . This meal has become a staple in our house for rainy or chilly days. Enjoy!

The key to any great jambalaya is the base ~The Holy Trinity of Cajun cooking~ equal parts of onion, bell peppers, and celery. Roughly chop these three veggies and steam sautĂ© in your favorite veggie broth. This time, I also had some bell peppers from my parents’ garden, so I was able to use those tasty little peppers. If you’re a garlic lover, you can add a clove or two of minced garlic 3-5 minutes into sautĂ©ing.

Once the onions become translucent, you can add in a large can of fire roasted diced tomatoes, 2-3 tablespoons of tomato paste, liquid smoke, frozen okra, parsley, thyme, salt, pepper, and a bay leaf. Allow those to simmer over low heat, while stirring occasionally for at least 30 minutes, but an hour or more is best. Really let those flavors come together.

While the jambalaya is simmering, cook up a pot of rice. I usually serve jambalaya with regular old brown rice, but lately I’ve been loving the Royal Blend from Rice Select. It’s got white, brown, wild, and red rice in it. Again, this part is totally up to you!

After the jambalaya has simmered long enough, add in whatever meaty substitute you desire. For the healthiest version, add in cubed tempeh – as much or as little as you like. Some people recommend pre-cooking the tempeh to get rid of the bitter taste, but I’ve never done that and have had no problems. I’ve also used the Field Roast sausage links in this recipe before. While it’s not the healthiest option, it certainly is tasty. You can also add beans at this point if you like. Although, when you add beans, does that technically make this a chili or a gumbo?

Once you’ve added in your meaty alternative, allow the jambalaya to continue simmering until everything is heated through.

Serve up your veganized jambalaya with the cooked rice on the side or you can choose to mix the rice you’ve already cooked right into the jambalaya.

I wasn’t totally sure what the difference between jambalaya, gumbo, and chili is so, I got on the ole Google machine to find out. I was curious, so I know someone reading this is probably curious too!

Jambalaya is more of a rice based dish typically with andouille sausage and shrimp or other shellfish. Gumbo is a roux-thickened stew with poultry, sausage, and/or shellfish that is typically served over rice. Chili is made from tomatoes, meat, and a source of heat (ie. chili powder). Funny, no beans mentioned in the jambalaya or gumbo, but the jury is still out regarding beans in chili. So it’s tough to say that this recipe is truly a jambalaya or a gumbo or a chili. All I know is that it is delicious and warms me right up on a chilly Florida night.

Vegan Jambalaya

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A hearty veganized version of jambalaya sure to warm you up on a chili night.


  • 1/2 cup of vegetable broth
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 green or red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 large can of fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 2-3 T. tomato paste
  • 1 t. Liquid smoke
  • 1/2 c. Frozen okra (optional)
  • 1 T. Dried parsley
  • 1 t. Dried Thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Your choice of rice, cooked according to package directions.
  • Your choice of meat substitutes such as, tempeh, Field Roast Vegan Sausage Links, etc.


  1. Roughly chop the onion, bell pepper, and celery. Mince the garlic and set aside.
  2. In a large stock pot, bring vegetable broth to a simmer and add the onion, bell pepper, and celery. Steam sauté for 3-5 minutes.
  3. When onion is translucent, add in minced garlic and sauté form2-4 minutes longer.
  4. Add in diced tomatoes, tomato paste, liquid smoke, okra (if using), parsley, thyme, and bay leaf. Stir well and allow to simmer over low heat for 30 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally.
  5. While jambalaya is simmer, prepare rice in a separate pot or a rice cooker.
  6. Just before serving, add in meat substitute and allow to simmer long enough to heat through.
  7. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Serve with prepared rice.

Fitness, Transitions, Veganism

Why does going vegan seem so hard?

I was recently approached by a gym friend about the fact that I’m vegan. He had no idea that I was until he saw my Instagram page (which makes sense since we usually just have the cordial, ‘Hey! How’s it going?’ chat). As we were talking, he kept mentioning how hard it must be to be vegan and I kept reassuring him that it eventually became my new normal and it’s really not that difficult. But the conversation got me thinking, why does it seem so hard to be vegan?

Like most changes we make, it may seem daunting when you first consider going vegan. If you’re like me, then you grew up eating meat, dairy, and eggs. What the hell are you going to eat if you aren’t going to eat those things? It took me an entire year of being flexible with my diet and indulging in meat and dairy (mostly dairy) before I felt confident enough to eliminate animal products completely. The key for me was actually not placing that ‘vegan’ label on myself until I felt completely ready. And even still, I don’t feel guilty about a tiny bit of dairy creeping into my meal if Kyle and I choose to eat dinner anywhere but at home.

Another thing that helped to make the change easier was having a purpose beyond just losing weight. Yes, the weight loss was an amazing bonus, but I was truly focused on regaining my health. I mean, at 24 years old my doctor was talking to me about having high blood pressure. She even reassured me that it was to be expected since I have a family history of high blood pressure. That’s not normal for any healthy 24 year old. My blood pressure is now 108/73 in case you’re wondering. But I digress. If you’re truly interested in eating a plant based diet, you need to have a purpose that is meaningful to you for making such a dramatic shift.

For me it was my health. I witnessed my Papa suffer for the last few years of his life with poor health. I also saw how that impacted our entire family and how it still does to this day, 10 years after his passing. I just do not want to ever have to endure the doctors visits, treatments, and surgeries that he went through.

The three most common reasons people begin a plant based journey are: health, environment and ethics. There are numerous documentaries widely available that address all three of these reasons for switching to a plant based diet. Forks Over Knives, Cowspiracy, and Earthlings are just a few I would recommend.

So back to my original question, why does it seem so difficult to go vegan? I honestly think that it’s the fact that you are going to do something so different from what you grew up doing and likely so different from what your friends and family are currently doing that it feels impossible. But I promise, it’s not.

Have the courage to be different, give yourself some room for trial and error, and be open minded about how eating a plant based diet can improve the quality of your life. đŸŒ±

Fitness, Transitions, Veganism

Setting Big Goals and Making Small Decisions 

I’ve really been enjoying listening to podcasts lately. After my last competition in July, I had been feeling a bit uninspired by music in general at the gym. I tried training without music and it was uncomfortable and not in the way that helps you to improve. At about the same time I was seeing more and more mention of listening to podcasts in my social media feed. So I started with The MFCEO Project with Andy Frisella. I’ve been hooked ever since. I love the way Andy delivers a no nonsense message. He owns his opinion completely, even if it’s controversial. I love listening to inspiring speakers during my training sessions.

So, what does this have to do with goal setting?

That’s something talked about a lot on The MFCEO Project and has really left an impression on me.

The MFCEO Project Podcast

In regards to wanting more (whether with fitness, success, family, etc.), you honestly need to set a big goal. Dream big. Put it out into the universe. Visualize having the things you want.

When you really put that goal out there, making the small decisions every day will be easier because you’ll be able to make those choices with the big goal in mind.

If your goal is to have better health, maybe more specifically to lower your cholesterol or blood pressure, then the actions you take every day need to lend themselves to that goal. When you grocery shop, choose foods that are going to help you reach your goal, not sabotage your efforts. Instead of watching anther episode on Netflix, go for a walk around the neighborhood. Choose water over soda. Again, all of your choices should reflect your goals.

As you make these decisions, people will notice and people will make comments. Some supportive, many judgmental.

Who cares what other people think? Those people’s reaction to the changes you are making reflect their level of comfort (or in many cases, discomfort) with themselves.
Who cares if it seems unrealistic? You’ll never know if you can achieve your goals unless you set them big and WORK toward them.

Fitness, Transitions

How fitness has changed my life… for the better

We all know that exercise is a good thing for us. But how can getting up for that walk our doctors recommend really, truly, and practically impact our lives?

Before I get started, I want you to realize that I’m speaking here from first hand experience. In my short life, I’ve gained and lost over 50 pounds. 

No really. Over 50 pounds. 

Getting into a fitness routine is hard.  When you haven’t been active in a while, the thought of getting up and exerting yourself physically is not appealing. You might feel embarrassed to get out and go for that walk or dare I say it, step foot into the gym. 

Seriously though, don’t be embarrassed. When I see someone in the gym who isn’t in great shape, but they are there and working, all I can think is, ‘Hell yeah! You got this!’

So back to how fitness has changed my life. Below are the top 5 ways my life has changed for the better because of fitness. (Being a very concrete-sequential thinker, I figured the easiest way to outline the changes would be a brief, bulleted list. You’re welcome.)

  1. Strength – I know physically I’m the strongest I’ve ever been and I will continue to develop that. Mentally, I know that I can push myself in all areas of life. When you can go into the gym and push yourself to do a few more reps when your arms feel like falling off, you know that you can literally do anything in any area of your life. 
  2. Confidence – this goes along with strength, but I really do feel more confident than I ever have. Knowing I have this physical and mental  strength makes me confident in my abilities in all other areas of life. 
  3. Energy – I have so much energy! I wake up feeling like a I can conquer the world (most days). 
  4. Sleep – along with having a lot of energy, my sleep has improved immensely. I sleep soundly through the night and on the rare occasion I do wake up in the middle of the night, I’m able to get back to sleep. 
  5. Relationships – I take care of myself first which allows me to care for the people in my life. 

I could go on and on about how exercise has changed my life for the better, but I feel like these areas have been the most profoundly impacted by my exercise routine. 

So go tie up those laces. Go for that walk. Use that gym membership you’ve been paying for. Get some of these benefits in your own life.