Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Difference Between Your Passion and a J-O-B

I like to educate myself on the things I do, and while reading a blog titled, "10 Lessons Seth Godin Can Teach You About Blogging" by Neil Patel on the difference was brought up between blogging because of your passion or blogging because of the money. This got the wheels turning for me...

What you do in your life, are you doing it because it's a passion or because it makes you money? If you are lucky enough, then whatever you do does both of these things, but for many of us that's not the case. Many of us hear the word, "passion" and feel like any passion has been sucked out of us. We don't even know what it means to have a passion or a dream anymore. Or! We know what a dream is: it's a dream. Something nice to think about, but the odds of it happening? Ehhh...not great!

And this is where we lose any chance we have of achieving anything that we want. The moment we succumb to the feelings of doubt, especially doubt in our own abilities, is the moment in which we have admitted defeat, stop trying, and barely find a reason to get out of bed in the morning other than to go sit in rush hour traffic on the way in to work. And if this is you, it's okay. It happens. I've been there. Totally fixable.

Find your passion. Go with it.

I'm not saying quit your job and go be a juggler because juggling is your passion, but hey! if you can get a business going with that and it can support you, by all means, my friend. Do yo thang!

Being real though, a passion creates a fire inside of you that keeps you moving forward towards your dreams when it feels like you can't. A passion gets you through those days at the office where you just want to throw your monitor out of the window. A passion can even get you away from that terrible office if you play your cards right, work hard, and get committed to it.

But there is a word of caution: your passion must remain your passion or you are doomed to fail. This isn't easy, especially once you start doing what you love full time. There needs to be a balance between keeping your passion your passion, and not doing too much that it becomes another J-O-B.

See, you should never want a vacation from your passion. It's what drives you. When you wake up in the morning, it is what you set out to do no matter what! It is something that FULFILLS some need inside that you have. And it does this without obligation, without stress, and without procrastination. That's your passion. Anything else is a job. And if you have turned your passion into a job, and it feels like a job, take it back to its roots. Why was it a passion in the first place? There's meaning behind what you are just need to find it.

The best way to keep it fresh? Always be learning about it. Always be challenging yourself in new ways to reach new heights with it. Always keep your eye on your "prize"...and while your eye is on it, throw in an added obstacle that you need to clear to REACH it because the more you push, the more you learn, the more you conquer, the stronger you become. When you are strong in an area, nothing can hold you back from achieving your dreams except yourself.

Do you have some crazy, amazing, uuber awesome dream but you aren't sure where to even START! Shoot me an email and let's talk

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Les Mills Instructor Training: What to Expect

As I was setting off on this journey myself, searching for resources about what to expect at a Les Mills instructor training, I found nothing. It was a bit frustrating because I am one of those people who loves reading reviews prior to setting out to do anything. I had heard a lot of wonderful things from friends of mine who were instructors, but I wanted MORE. So I wanted to type up this quick little blog to give you a tidbit of what you can expect at a Les Mills (LM) Instructor training as I recently attended Body Combat for two days and it blew my mind (yes...they are THAT good).

An LM Instructor training can be summed up with 3 words: Empowerment, Strength, and Friendship

Empowerment: Have you ever just wanted to be yourself? Sure, you might preach that you are always your own person, but I would be willing to bet that there has been a time or two when you have tucked "yourself" away for fear of being judged by others. This was the first atmosphere that mixed a variety of people together where I think everyone felt safe being who they are. I know I did. The shyness wore off VERY quick and it seemed like after lunch that first day you would have thought we all had known each other for years, and not a mere 5 hours.

Beyond getting your true self out there for others to experience (because let's face're awesome) the LM training left participants feeling empowered to follow their dreams, be amazing at whatever they set out to do, and left us all with a mindset that if we want it, we can get it. I know personally, that on my 2 1/2 hour drive home through the high mountains of Maryland and West Virginia that I felt on top of the world (literally and figuratively). I wanted to write a blog, post a video, and tell every stranger I could about the experience that I just had. In fact, I went to pick up some food and treated  myself to a beer while waiting, and it took a lot to not start gushing to everyone at the bar and showing them how to throw a proper punch (no, no, no! Strike surface is the first two knuckles!). I figured that might be TOO much, so I just silently sipped my beer and continued to reflect on the amazingness from the weekend.  If you go to a Les Mills instructor training, be prepared to come out feeling like you are on top of the world.

Strength:  There are two areas of strength that are going to improve by attending one of these trainings: physical and mental. In order to prepare for your training you will be provided with the most current release from your program. For some releases you must memorize all of it, and for others you are designated certain tracks. You should be practicing this every day, multiple times a day, for the two weeks leading up to training. At training itself, it's a 10 hour day full of physical activities designed to perfect your motions and get you comfortable with teaching the LM format.

Here's the crazy thing, though: on a typical day, could you go to the gym for 10 hours, enjoy every moment, and continuously push yourself to a new limit? Unlikely. But at an LM training YOU DO! If you read my blog, follow me on Instagram (@Nik4213) or on Facebook, you know that I am a huge advocate of positive thinking to achieve positive results, and my training proved that theory. I'll never forget, there was a section where we all had to stand in a circle, arms around each others shoulders, and practice our roundhouse kicks for one minute (which we will all agree, it was longer than that!). Each of us was relying on the others to keep a strong core and balance (because you never put that foot down). We were exhausted, sweat was dripping, but we just kept talking to each other and at one point we all started singing the song that was on at the time. It was probably one of the highlights of the training for me, because in that moment we really all came together as one tribe, with one goal. We refused to allow any of us to fail, and if you did see someone starting to go not only did you encourage them to stay strong, but you got a little bit stronger for that person. If you go to a Les Mills instructor training, be prepared to come out mentally and physically stronger than you have ever been, with a new meaning and feeling of respect when you think of the word "teamwork".

Friendship: I have been to quite a few instructor trainings for programs that are not LM. I have been to seminars, networking meetings, and rallies and at these you can typically find a "buddy" to hang out with if you are by yourself. If you come with a group, most likely you might stay within your group. This is not the case at an LM training. Within my group there was a group of girls that all taught at the YMCA where the training was located. At first, being the only one NOT from the state of Maryland I thought that it might be a very long, very lonely weekend. Again, within the first few hours we were all one tribe. There was no division based on who taught what, where you taught, or where you were from. I'm not sure what it was (perhaps just an amazing instructor) but the entire room just ... meshed. Positive comments came in abundance after each practice of a track, we built each other up when we thought we were at a place where "up" was not a reality, and if you ever got the feeling of "this might not be for me", the group reminded you of why you showed up, your abilities, and why you SHOULD be a Body Combat instructor. Never in my life have I experienced such a situation.  This wasn't just friendship for the weekend, this felt real. Two weeks later I still talk with at least one of the girls every day. Though we are separated now, and some are lucky enough to practice together, we are still pushing each other and cheering one another on through the computer screen. I know that these friendships are something that are going to last a long time, and continue to have a positive impact on each of our lives as we continue through our LM journey. If you go to a Les Mills instructor training, be prepared to leave with some new, quality friends that are more like a family.

I cannot say enough about this experience. This blog does not even begin to do it justice. I struggled, I ached, I laughed until I almost peed my pants (thanks, Anne). It was 20 hours of hard work, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Stay with the fight!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Crock Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup

While pinning this week, I came across this amazing blog SkinnyMom.  While I am not a mother myself, this blog is AMAZING because of its healthy recipies that the entire family can really enjoy. Health food is no longer going to be looked at as tasteless and bland with these recipes. Check her out, or in the meantime, try this awesome chicken tortilla soup that you can make in your crock pot..just like Max & Ermas but MUCH better for you!
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 16 oz can black beans
  • 16 oz can kidney beans
  • 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 10 oz package frozen corn kernels
  • 2 - 10 oz cans diced tomatoes w/ chilies
  • 1 packet reduced-sodium taco seasoning
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 24 oz (3-4) boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 32 oz reduced-sodium fat free chicken stock
  1. Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker.
  2. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours.
Nutrition Info and Tips
Per Serving (1/4th of pot):Calories: 358Fat: 6g

Carbohydrates: 38gFiber: 10gProtein: 38gSugars: 12g

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Meal Planning Made Easy!

I find nothing exciting about meal planning - nada; however, I find that when I actually take the time to plan out what I am going to be eating for the week, it really helps me to stay on track. As you all know, I love food. I love bar food the most, and know, the WORST ones for you, but I know that I am no longer 15 these things can catch up with me pretty quickly.

So, I meal plan. And it's always been boring. It is that one thing I put off doing because it just isn't fun! I don't do "not fun". Blah. Recognizing this problem, I decided to take the task and chop it into smaller tasks. Instead of sitting down for an hour on a single day and figuring out what I'm going to eat and grocery shop for, I do it one day at a time. So for example, today is Wednesday so today I will be making up my meals for next Wednesday.

For me, lunch and dinners are the issue. I have the same thing for breakfast every day (a loaded protein shake), and my snacks are typically a fruit and string cheese, or a fruit and almonds in the morning followed by my Shakeology in the afternoon. Lunches and dinners are scary because if I don't have it planned I'll find an excuse to go out and eat..because again, I love food. So here is what I do:

Step 1: I enter in my "usuals" into my meal planner (template for you below) for the week. There, done, with little thinking involved.

Step 2: If I need anything for my snacks (like grapes, almonds, etc) it goes immediately onto my shopping list WITH the location where it is cheapest (Ex: Aldis Almonds, Trader Joes Bananas)

Step 3: I browse either my nutrition guides that I have received from my Beachbody programs (most common method) or I venture off onto Google and find some random blog. I choose a pretty simple lunch that I can either make and it feeds me for days, or a standard salad for which I use no dressing and instead add in various vegetables for flavors (try sweet peppers! Yum!) Add my choice to my meal plan, and the ingredients into the shopping list app

Step 4: Same thing for dinner. Now me personally, I plan my dinners around the weather. If its a nice night, I prefer it on the grill..if its chilly and crisp, I like it from the crockpot. I try and consider my moods when I plan my food. Think about it, if you know you are swamped at work on Wednesday do not pick some complicated dinner dish! Pick a crockpot meal..simplify your life. Onto the planner it goes, and into the food app

That's it! I'm done! I do this every day and the entire thing takes me 5 minutes at the most!

Here is a simple template that I have developed in Google Docs that you are free to use. I also try and make it a habit to upload my meals onto to check the levels of sodium, protein, etc. to make sure I am not over-indulging in anything

Oh, and while I'm at's a little tunage to make it more fun. Nothin' like a good ol fashioned meal planning party!
Questions? Comments? Concerns? Email me!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Body Beast for Women: Week 1 Overview

I have successfully completed my first week of the Body Beast Lean Beast schedule. At first, I thought that I wouldn't care for this exercise DVD and this would be the longest 90 days of my life, but here we are at the end of week 1 and it flew by!

In addition, so far I do LOVE the program! I'm not sure what it is about weight lifting, but it seems to go by a lot quicker than cardio for some reason (and I'm sure some will disagree with me there). This week has been especially challenging because at the same time I am doing work for grad school, working overtime, and learning my tracks for Body Combat certification next week; however, in order to get around all of those hurdles I am waking up an hour earlier in the morning and just getting it done. Sagi says, "Whatever it takes" and while at first that waking up early thing sucked, I'm just fine with it now.

The workouts are not hard, but they are wonderfully diverse. I have done P90X and ChaLEAN Extreme and was never disappointed in the way that each of those workouts introduced new moves that I had never done before. While I have done all of the moves in Body Beast, as they are currently fairly basic, Sagi does stack them in a way where the challenge for the muscles is something completely new to me. I love the way that the "super sets" and "giant sets" really challenge me both physically and mentally. To me, that's what a good workout is all about.

Saying that the moves thus far are basic is not to discredit the program by any means! I have yet to meet a workout that did not give me that awesome muscle shake at the end of it, that did not leave me sore the next day, or that did not challenge my own strength. Every day I am challenged, and each day I can feel myself growing stronger.

I'm really excited to see where this program ends up taking me. So far, I actually look forward to it each morning and it starts the day off on a positive foot. Stay tuned for more weekly updates, progress photos, tips and tricks! Have questions for me? Feel free to email me at

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Pumpkin Protein Pancakes

If there is one thing that I LOVE around this time of year, it is anything with pumpkin in it. I become a pumpkin FIEND. In my opinion there is nothing better than the taste of pumpkin: that mix of spices, just tastes like Fall. The only thing better would be if I could combine it with one of my favorite foods: Pancakes

Oh but wait....I did. And it is SO simple!


  • 2 cups baking mix, such as Bisquick
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1-1/4 cups almond milk
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar (optional. I did not use)
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  •  1-2 scoops vanilla Whey protein powder (depending on how much protein you want)
    Mix the Bisquick, eggs, milk, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg together. Then add in the pumpkin, and finally the protein powder. You may need to add a bit of water, or a bit more Bisquick depending on if your mixture is too watery or too thick.  Drop 2 spoonfuls per pancake onto a greased griddle and flip when sides look dry and top is bubbly.
    And that's it! Top it with some sugar free syrup, raw honey, or Agave and you are good to go!
    Yields 10-12 hearty pancakes

    Monday, September 2, 2013

    Body Beast for Women

    So today I am stepping completely out of my comfort zone and taking on a new program that combines heavy weights with some intense lifting sets - Body Beast. Body Beast is designed to build muscle through and bulk with Dynamic Set Training (ladies, keep in mind our testosterone levels are not he same as men, therefor the bulk for us will be more a strong, lean look and not Barbie's head on GI Joe's body). The program runs for 90 days and was developed by champion body builder, Sagi Kalev (and ladies...he's not too shabby to look at, either).

    So many people are asking me why I have decided to do a body building program when I am typically a cardio junkie, and that's just the problem - I'm a cardio junkie! I am a big ball of energy housed in a little body, so I love letting loose and dancing, or kicking, or punching..and sometimes I'll even take a break to just swoon over Shaun T and his abs...but cardio is only going to get you so far. If you want FULL results, if you want to reach your goals, if you want to kick a plateau's ass...then you gotta throw in some weight training.

    I am a lazy weight trainer. I am. I'll go for about 3 days, it will last a week, I'll quit and just go back to cardio so I NEEDED a change. No..not even a change, a challenge. One thing that always keeps me on my toes is a good challenge and I think Body Beast is going to be perfect.

    I'm also setting out to prove the myth that women will bulk with this program as being false. My friend did this program and had amazing results as well. Check out her Beast transformation here he

    The bottom line is: I want what is best for my body. Clean eating, proper cardio, and weight training are the three of the best things you can do for your body, in my opinion.

    Do you have questions about trying Body Beast? Feel free to shoot me an email or you can check out my site for more information regarding the product